Manitoba marked the province’s deadliest day of the pandemic with four COVID-19 deaths and further restrictions for the Winnipeg area and the north.
Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, said two of the deaths — a man in his 80s and a man in his 70s — were linked to an outbreak at a personal care home in Winnipeg. There has been a total of 14 deaths at the Parkview Place care home.
The other deaths were two men in their 80s.
“It’s such a difficult situation to go through. We are really in this 100-year pandemic,” Roussin said.
There were 147 new cases of the virus Thursday. Eighty-seven were in Winnipeg where restrictions on restaurants, pubs and gathering sizes were enacted earlier this week.
The province also marked its highest rate of hospitalizations — 42 people in hospital and eight in intensive care.
Roussin said there is widespread community transmission and warned against people continuing to socialize outside their homes.
“We see infectious people at work, out in public at gatherings. This certainly can be avoided,” Roussin said.
The capital city went weeks without any new infections over the summer, but case numbers have risen rapidly in the last two months.
In the north, there had been a total of four cases until late in September compared with 69 now.
Roussin expressed concern over increasing infections in the northern region and announced that, starting Monday, he is putting the area under the same elevated restrictions as Winnipeg, which include closing casinos, bingo halls and limiting occupancy in restaurants.
“We know that the north is already at risk for transmission of this virus, especially in remote isolated communities (where there is lack of) access to health care,” Roussin said.
Extra measures are also being put in place for schools in the Winnipeg area and the north starting Monday. They include cancelling field trips, banning choirs and wind instruments and requiring substitute teachers to wear medical masks.
Twenty-seven cases connected to a poultry plant in Blumenort, southeast of Winnipeg, are linked to infections in the community, Roussin said.
An outbreak at Headingley provincial prison nearly tripled this week to 32 positive cases.
Roussin said the growing numbers are “all a result of increased contacts.”
“We have to change things. We fell back on the fundamentals,” he said. “We got back to all that normalcy that we want, but we just know this is what happens when we attempt that.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 22, 2020.
Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press