Manitoba reported its youngest COVID-19 victim for the second time in less than a week Friday.
The man in his 20s from Winnipeg is one of nine deaths health officials reported Friday, as 438 new cases of the virus were added to Manitoba’s total tally of cases.
A woman in her 30s from the Interlake, whose death was reported Wednesday, had previously been Manitoba’s youngest victim.
“All these announcements are much more than numbers — these are people — this is a young man,” Manitoba’s chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, said of the latest young victim, who he said had underlying conditions.
“This is tragic to see all of these listings every single day now. We have to maintain our focus that these are not just numbers, these are people, — this was a son, a Manitoban — and we need to continue to be vigilant to stop days like these going forward.”
Manitoba has reported daily COVID-19 numbers in the triple digits for more than a month, and at least one death from the virus every day since Oct. 21.
Since the pandemic arrived in the province in March, 207 Manitobans with COVID-19 have died and 12,919 Manitobans have fallen ill, according to provincial data.
On Thursday health officials reported 475 new cases and eight additional deaths.
Hospitalization numbers continued to climb Friday with a record-setting 281 people reportedly in hospital, with 43 in intensive care.
Four in 10 testing positive in Steinbach
The highest number of new cases announced Friday — 247– came from the Winnipeg Health region, but Roussin said 114 reported from the Southern Health region are part of a disturbing trend in the area.
He pointed specifically to Steinbach where he said the 10-day COVID-19 test positivity rate has hit 40 per cent.
“Forty per cent of people getting tested are testing positive,” he said. “We’re seeing about 30 to 40 positive tests every day, just in Steinbach.”
— Manitoba Gov News (@MBGovNews) November 20, 2020
In Ste. Anne, Roussin said the 10-day test positivity rate is roughly 20 per cent, and the rate is 30 per cent and climbing in the RM of Hanover, he added.
The five-day test positivity rate for all of Manitoba dropped from 14 per cent to 13.7 per cent Friday.
Steinbach was the site of an anti-mask rally last weekend, although many attendees came from other communities. Roussin said there was no direct link between the event and the rising numbers.
The numbers in the region have been rising for weeks, he added. Last Friday, emergency room nurses at the Steinbach hospital reported they had to triage patients in their cars because there was no room inside.
Roussin said further restrictions could be imposed on Steinbach if the numbers don’t improve, but he did not provide specifics.
“We’re seeing a lot of disproportionate numbers and we need to end that,” Roussin said.
Friday’s other new cases include 22 in the Interlake-Eastern Health region, 28 in the Northern Health region, and 27 in the Prairie Mountain Health region.
As well as the man in his 20s who died, Friday’s new deaths include:
- a woman in her 50s from the Northern health region;
- a woman in her 60s from the Winnipeg health region and linked to the outbreak at the Keekinan Centre;
- a woman in her 60s from the Interlake–Eastern health region;
- a man in his 60s from the Southern Health region;
- a woman in her 80s from the Winnipeg health region;
- a man in his 80s from the Winnipeg health region and linked to the St. Norbert Personal Care Home outbreak;
- a man in his 80s from the Prairie Mountain Health region and linked to the outbreak at Gilbert Plains Personal Care Home; and
- a man in his 100s from the Winnipeg health region and linked to the St. Norbert Personal Care Home outbreak.
While deadly outbreaks are ongoing at dozens of personal care homes and several health facilities across Manitoba, the province said two at the Swan Valley Health Centre and Swan Valley Lodge personal care home, have ended as of Friday.
Personal care home outbreaks
But Manitoba’s COVID-19 spike continue to hit personal care homes hard.
The military has been brought in to help at one home on the Opaskwayak Cree Nation. Paramedics have had to rush to some homes in Winnipeg to make up for staff who are off sick or self-isolating.
On Thursday night, Golden Links Lodge in Winnipeg called in paramedics and asked relatives of residents to come and sit by their bedsides and monitor them for any change in condition.
“We are struggling with staffing as many staff are off sick, reached capacity with picking up shifts, are COVID-19 positive themselves, etc.,” read a note posted by chief executive officer Marcy-Lynn Larner on the home’s Facebook page.
“We are asking the primary caregiver for each resident to consider coming into our home to help care for your loved one. There is risk involved with this and we know that.”
Larner said relatives would be provided with protective equipment. The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority said 42 of the 81 residents at Golden Links Lodge had tested positive for the virus.
The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service said one patient at Golden Links was taken to hospital, and a paramedic crew remained at the site on standby Friday.
There have been COVID-19 outbreaks in 27 of the 39 long-term care homes in Winnipeg.
‘We are at a critical juncture’
In an effort to stop the virus’ spread, Roussin put the entire province under level-red restrictions last week, closing restaurants, bars, gyms, non-essential retail stores and other facilities.
On Thursday health officials beefed up the restrictions, banning gatherings at private residences and limiting in-person retail sales to essential items only.
On Friday Roussin repeated a call he’s been making for weeks, pleading with Manitobans to stay at home to curb the rising numbers that are pushing the province’s health-care system to the brink.
“We are at a critical juncture right now, our hospitals are reaching capacity, we need to do better,” he said.
As of Thursday, 7,861 cases remained active across Manitoba and the province remains the highest in Canada for per-capita infection rates.
Earlier in the day Friday Canada’s chief public health officer said if contacts increase above current levels nationally, we’ll be hurdling toward a worst-case scenario.
Dr. Theresa Tam said if Canadians increase their contact rates going into the holiday season, COVID-19 cases could skyrocket to 60,000 per day by the end of the year, according to the modelling.
That would be a twelvefold increase from the current level of around 5,000 cases per day, which is already straining the health-care system in some regions.
Tam said at current rates of contact, Canada is careening toward a surge of more than 20,000 cases per day by the end of December, with a commensurate increase in hospitalizations and deaths.
There are about 52,000 active cases in Canada to date, with a cumulative tally of more 315,000 cases.
–With files from The Canadian Press
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.
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