'We're going to help you': Atwal urges Manitobans to stay home as another 497 cases reported

Manitoba public health officials announced 497 new COVID-19 cases and no new deaths from the illness on Friday.

Province has now seen more than 50,000 COVID-19 cases since start of pandemic

There are now 69 people with COVID-19 in intensive care units in the province, down from 73. However, that number does not include 27 Manitoba patients who are receiving care at hospitals in Ontario and Saskatchewan. (Mikaela MacKenzie/The Canadian Press pool)

As Manitoba reported 497 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, the province's deputy chief public health officer pledged help for anyone who needs it in order to isolate.

The surge in cases — 200 more than Thursday's daily increase — pushes the province's total number of cases since the start of the pandemic past the 50,000 mark. Manitoba has now recorded 50,144 cases.

Dr. Jazz Atwal urged people to get tested as soon as possible, preferably within 24 hours, if they are showing any symptoms related to the coronavirus.

"And if it's positive, work with public health to self-isolate. If you're having issues with self-isolation, public health will help you," he said at a news conference early Friday afternoon.

WATCH | Atwal urges COVID-19 protesters to gather virtually not physically:

"It's a potential for that superspreader event": Dr. Jazz Atwal urges COVID-19 protesters to gather virtually, not physically

2 years ago
Duration 1:56
Dr. Jazz Atwal, Manitoba's acting deputy chief provincial public health officer, said Friday Manitobans have the right to protest, but gathering in person puts people at risk, as the province's hospital struggle to keep up with a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU admissions.

"We have a lot of resources there to address any issues you have. You need food? We're going to find a way to get you food.

"You need someone to help you out with your kids or your extended family in your home? We're going to help you out. If it's easier getting you out of that house, we're going to help you out."

The key message is to get tested, rather than waiting until you wind up in hospital, Atwal said.

There were no new deaths from COVID-19 reported on Friday — a big change after the province recorded eight deaths on Thursday, the highest daily number during the pandemic's third wave.

The Winnipeg health region had the largest number of Friday's new cases, with 324. That's more than the entirety of cases on Thursday (297) for the province.

The Prairie Mountain Health region has the next most at 80, followed by the Southern Health region with 36.

There are another 32 cases in the Interlake–Eastern health region and 25 more in the Northern Health Region.

The total number of Manitobans who have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began remains at 1,042, including 60 deaths related to coronavirus variants of concern.

'This isn't about hurting someone'

Atwal also urged people to comply with the current public health orders, which the province has extended until June 12.

That means no indoor or outdoor gatherings with people outside your household. The rule applies to playgrounds, golf courses, parks, sports fields and campgrounds.

It allows for some exceptions, including for child care and for people who live alone, who are allowed one designated visitor.

Retail businesses are allowed to stay open at 10 per cent capacity or 100 occupants, whichever is lower.

Even as he encouraged adherence, Atwal said it is crucial anyone who breaks the rules and becomes ill does not hesitate to get tested out of fear of being fined.

"It's going to be paramount in our ability to keep case numbers down, look at case and contact management and make it effective, and to help people out who need that help," he said.

"This isn't about hurting someone. If you develop symptoms, you test positive, but you hung out with your friend and that's how you got it, we're not going to give you a ticket.

"We're going to help you to find a way to self-isolate properly to mitigate the issues related to spreading COVID-19. So work with public health, work with the orders, work with the messaging, and that's how we're going to get out of this third wave."

WATCH | Atwal talk about workplace COVID-19 transmissions in Manitoba:

Dr. Jazz Atwal on workplace COVID-19 transmissions in Manitoba

2 years ago
Duration 0:59
Dr. Jazz Atwal, Manitoba's acting deputy chief provincial public health officer, said Friday many cases of workplace transmission of COVID-19 are related to people breaking workplace protocols, such as eating together at lunch, or activities related to work such as carpooling.

Manitoba's seven-day average of new cases has been over 400 new cases a day for more than two weeks. The province recently became the jurisdiction with the highest infection rate of any province or U.S. state.

There were declines in some statistics on Friday, including the total number of people in hospital due to COVID-19. That is now 312, down from 324 on Thursday.

As well, there are 69 people with COVID-19 in intensive care units in the province, down from 73.

However, that does not include 27 Manitoba patients who have been transferred out of province and remain in care at other hospitals. As of Friday, there were 26 critically ill COVID-19 Manitoba patients in Ontario and one in Saskatchewan.

One other patient who was previously transferred was returned to hospital in Manitoba, after their condition improved, a Shared Health spokesperson said in an email Friday.

With the out-of-province patients, the total number of Manitoba COVID patients in ICUs is actually 96.

The Shared Health spokesperson said more patients are tentatively scheduled for transfer.

    The current five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate is 12.5 per cent provincially, an ever so slight decrease from 12.6 on Thursday. It remains at 14 per cent in Winnipeg.

    Another 579 cases involving the more contagious coronavirus variants have also been identified, according to the province's dashboard.

    Variant of concern cases now account for 57 per cent of active cases in Manitoba.

    A news release from the province says outbreaks have been declared at two new sites: the Carman Memorial Hospital in Carman and Eastview Place Personal Care Home in Altona.

    Both facilities have been moved to the red, or critical, level on the province's pandemic response system.

    Meanwhile, an earlier outbreak at the Russell Health Centre in Russell has been declared over.

    Adult day program suspension extended 

    The ongoing impact of the pandemic's third wave means the suspension of day services for adults with intellectual disabilities, funded by Community Living disABILITY Services in Winnipeg, is being extended another two weeks.

    The suspension will extend until June 11. It was initially set to expire on May 31.

    In its news release, the province said some exceptions may be made where the safety of individuals cannot be managed in residential care or at home during the day. 

    The Department of Families will continue to support the redeployment of day services and transportation staff to individuals' places of residence, the province says.

    WATCH | Full news conference on COVID-19 | May 28, 2021:

    Manitoba government daily briefing on coronavirus: May 28

    2 years ago
    Duration 48:03
    Provincial officials give update on COVID-19 outbreak: Friday, 28, 2021.


    Darren Bernhardt spent the first dozen years of his journalism career in newspapers, at the Regina Leader-Post then the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. He has been with CBC Manitoba since 2009 and specializes in offbeat and local history stories. He is the author of award-nominated and bestselling The Lesser Known: A History of Oddities from the Heart of the Continent.