Officials alert public about Selkirk emergency department worker with COVID-19

A health-care worker at Selkirk Regional Health Centre has been diagnosed with COVID-19, Manitoba officials say. The province has seven new cases of COVID-19, bringing the province's total to 103.

Public also warned that a person with COVID-19 was at Winnipeg's Club Regent Casino on March 16

A health-care worker at Selkirk Regional Health Centre has been diagnosed with COVID-19, Manitoba officials say. (Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority)

A Manitoba health-care worker who spent several days on the job in a Selkirk emergency room while symptomatic has been diagnosed with COVID-19, Manitoba public health officials say.

It's the first time health officials in the province have confirmed a health-care worker has the disease.

It's also the first time officials have provided specific details about a patient's movement, in an effort to find and warn anyone who may have been in close contact with the worker to go into self-isolation.

The staff member worked in the Selkirk Regional Health Centre's emergency department and medicine ward from March 19 to 23, said Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba's chief provincial public health officer, on Tuesday.

It's believed the worker got the virus while travelling within Canada. The individual returned to Manitoba before the province ordered people to self-isolate for 14 days following interprovincial travel, Roussin said.

But the province has long advised any Manitobans who are sick to stay at home.

"How a symptomatic person was working for … three days — I can't answer that," Roussin said.

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba's chief public health officer, speaks during the province's COVID-19 update in Winnipeg on March 26. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

Public health officials are investigating the case, he said, including followup with all close staff and patient contacts. All known contacts are being asked to self-isolate for 14 days.

Dates and times of possible exposure, all at the Selkirk Regional Health Centre emergency department, include:

  • March 19 from 7:45 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • March 20 from 7:45 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • March 21 from 7:45 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • March 22 from 11:45 p.m. to March 23 7:45 a.m.

Manitoba has seven new cases of COVID-19, Roussin said Tuesday, bringing the province's total to 103.

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Selkirk Mayor Larry Johannson said his city has been preparing for the virus, but was hoping it wouldn't show up.

"It's disappointment and sadness, but this is a pandemic," he said. "It can hit anywhere."

Johannson wouldn't comment on the health-care worker going to the hospital while sick, but said he trusts provincial health officials to take the appropriate next steps. 

"The ones we have to fear are the ones that are out there that may have it, and aren't quarantined," he said. "So as bad as this case is, we know it happened. [The province has] it under control and we're going to notify the right people.

Winnipeg emergency nurse infected at work

A Winnipeg emergency department nurse also has tested positive for COVID-19, the Manitoba Nurses Union said Tuesday. She is recovering in self-isolation at home, the union said.

The union believes the Winnipeg nurse contracted COVID-19 while working in an emergency department, caring for patients sick with the virus. She hadn't travelled internationally for several months.

When asked about that case and reports of another exposure at St. Boniface Hospital on Tuesday, Roussin would not confirm any specifics.

The province is also warning the public that a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19 was at Club Regent Casino on March 16. The casino is located at 1425 Regent Ave. W in Winnipeg.

The date and location were listed on the province's website, along with a list of flights that had passengers with confirmed cases.


As of Tuesday morning, three COVID-19 patients were currently in hospital, including two in intensive care, Roussin said. The patients are in isolation, but not at the dedicated 30-bed isolation space at Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre, said Lanette Siragusa, chief nursing officer of Shared Health.

There aren't enough patients yet to warrant use of that space, she said.

Four people have recovered from COVID-19 in Manitoba as of Tuesday morning. The total number of reported deaths in the province from the disease remains at one.

Call for more critical care nurses

None of the currently diagnosed COVID-19 patients in Manitoba are from First Nations, Roussin said.

The province needs critical care nurses to come forward to help the health-care system respond to the virus, Siragusa said Tuesday.

They're calling on registered nurses and licensed practical nurses with previous experience in adult or pediatric critical care to pick up shifts.

The province also is continuing its call for donations of supplies to help fight the virus.

The call includes requests for N95 respirators of various models and sizes, surgical masks, gloves, disposable gowns and disinfectants and cleaners.

Supplies must be in their original packaging, clean and in usable condition. Expired supplies cannot be accepted, officials said.

On Tuesday morning, Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced in-class teaching for kindergarten to Grade 12 students in Manitoba is suspended indefinitely for this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Grade 12 provincial exams also have been cancelled.

The announcement followed an expanded public health order made by the Manitoba government on Monday.

WATCH | Full news conference on COVID-19 | March 31, 2020:

Manitoba government daily briefing on coronavirus: March 31

2 years ago
Duration 45:55
Provincial officials give update on COVID-19 outbreak: Tueday, March 30, 2020.

Non-essential services such as bars, hair salons and massage therapy offices will shut down and restaurants will be banned from serving in their premises starting Wednesday under an expanded public health order made by the Manitoba government on Monday.

Social distancing 'not a short-term solution'

Social distancing measures are likely to be in place for "many, many weeks at this intensity," Roussin said Tuesday.

"We do have to expect this is not a short-term solution," he said.

Public health officials also ask people to stay within or close to their home communities.

That includes limiting travel — even within the province — to essential trips only. 

Roussin said businesses or employers that aren't affected by the province's public health order should still take social distancing measures "very, very seriously."

"You don't need an order to help Manitoba," he said.

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With files from Sam Samson