Manitoba

'Not at our peak right now': Manitobans likely to contend with COVID-19 until vaccine arrives, says top doctor

Manitoba's top doctor has a blunt assessment of the future of the novel coronavirus pandemic in the province — but encourages Manitobans not to give up.

'Our strategies against this virus are not going to be short-lived,' says Dr. Brent Roussin

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba's chief public health officer, says while the province should expect the pandemic to go on for the foreseeable future, 'now is not the time for fear.' (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

Manitoba's top doctor has a blunt assessment of the future of the novel coronavirus pandemic in the province — but encourages Manitobans not to give up.

At the daily public update on Tuesday, Dr. Brent Roussin, the provincial chief public health officer, said Manitobans should be prepared to deal with the pandemic in one shape or another for the foreseeable future.

"We're likely going to be dealing with this virus for some time, until there is a vaccine," he said.

Scientists all over the world are ramping up their research efforts to create that vaccine and find ways to treat the virus, but these processes take time.

In light of the unknown future ahead for Manitobans, Roussin did offer words of encouragement.

"Now is not the time for fear. Now is the time for knowledge. Now is the time for action," he said.

"We do know that our strategies against this virus are not going to be short-lived. So this virus is likely going to be around in one shape or another for some time in the future." 

That means Manitobans should continue to practise social distancing, hand hygiene, and self-isolating if they're sick.

As of Tuesday, Manitoba has 217 presumed and confirmed cases of COVID-19. Three people have died and 21 have recovered, leaving 193 active cases in Manitoba. (Duk Han Lee/CBC)

On Tuesday, Roussin reported the death of a third person in the province who had tested positive for COVID-19, as well as 13 new cases.

At this point, there are 193 active cases — those where people are still experiencing symptoms of the illness — in the province. Twenty-one people diagnosed with COVID-19 have recovered so far in Manitoba.

He says the province is bound to see more cases.

Also on Tuesday, public health experts with the Quebec government projected between 1,200 and 9,000 people could die of COVID-19 there by the end of the month.

Last week, Ontario health experts said they expect COVID-19 could kill 3,000 to 15,000 people in Ontario over the course of the pandemic, and that its ramifications — including possible multiple waves —  could last from 18 months to two years.

Here in Manitoba, though, Premier Brian Pallister has so far been unwilling to make a similar projection for the province, saying he does not want to "scare the hell out of everybody" — but Roussin says the situation is serious.

WATCH | Dr. Brent Roussin on the future of the pandemic in the province:

In spite of a blunt outlook for the future of the COVID-19 pandemic in Manitoba, Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer, says there's a lot we can do to protect ourselves and others. 0:45

For now, though, he wants to focus on this initial wave of cases in the province, knowing it's likely not nearly at its end.

"We're certainly, in my opinion, not at our peak right now. I think we're going to see many, many more cases here in Manitoba, but we know we're going to continue with our efforts and we're going to escalate our efforts if necessary," he said.

"We don't know a lot about it, but we should prepare that we'll be dealing with this virus for the foreseeable future."

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