Manitobans tested for COVID-19 can now look for negative test results online
People who test positive for COVID-19 will still receive a phone call from public health officials
Manitobans who have been tested for the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can now access their negative test results online.
Lanette Siragusa, Shared Health chief nursing officer, announced the new web page for those who have been tested for the novel coronavirus at the daily provincial pandemic briefing, where Dr. Brent Roussin reported no new cases of COVID-19.
"It is our goal that this initiative will allow Manitobans to have faster access to negative results," Siragusa said. "We also hope it will relieve some of the stress and anxiety of anyone who's been tested."
People who test positive will still receive a phone call about their results from public health officials, Siragusa said, but as of Monday, people who have tested negative now have an online portal where they can view their test results.
A Manitoba Health card is required in order to access the test results, but Siragusa said anyone without a health card or internet access can call a toll-free number.
Last week, the province expanded testing criteria to allow any Manitobans experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 to be tested.
Nearly 27,500 COVID-19 tests have been completed in Manitoba, with 642 tests done on Sunday.
In addition to announcing no new cases of the novel coronavirus, Roussin, the province's chief public health officer, said one more person has recovered from the COVID-19, dropping the number of active cases to 37. The total number of cases to date is 281.
Five people are in hospital, but no one is in intensive care. The death toll remains at six.
The first phase of the Manitoba government's reopening plan started Monday, allowing some non-essential businesses to resume some operations, and playgrounds and outdoor recreational facilities can open as well.
"This is not a return to normal," Roussin said. "This is a gradual and conscious reopening of the economy, with very stringent restrictions at first to continue our limitation of the transmission of this virus."
People must continue practising health protocols such as physical distancing, and anyone who is symptomatic must continue to stay home, Roussin said.
"Our battle against this virus is not over. This virus is still in our province, so we must do whatever we can to limit the transmission of it," Roussin said.
Manitobans returning to work as part of the first phase of the province's reopening are now eligible to access child care by searching for available spaces on the province's website.
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Some medical service providers that had to close because of the public health order, including dentists, physiotherapists and chiropractors, also can reopen.
However, "all clinical services that can be delivered virtually should be delivered in that way," Siragusa said.
Some surgical and diagnostic services that were postponed to reduce the strain on Manitoba's health-care system during the early pandemic response are now being scheduled and performed, Siragusa said, but patients who have greater health risks will be prioritized.
Later this week, Siragusa will give an update about how the demand for those services has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
People are still not permitted to visit those in health-care facilities, but the province is reviewing how and when those restrictions can be lifted, Siragusa said.
"We appreciate that Manitobans understand that we need to continue our efforts and protect all of our patients and residents," she said.
Recall won't seriously impact testing capacity: Roussin
Roussin said the province was committed to begin reopening as soon as it was safe to do so.
"The issue here is that tough public health restrictions that were needed to [be] put in place, they can't be in place forever," Roussin said. "They have negative effects on health as well."
He directed businesses with questions about how to reopen safely to visit the province's website for more guidance.
Roussin also said new restrictions from Health Canada on the Spartan Cube, a made-in-Canada, rapid COVID-19 test, won't have a significant impact on testing capacity in the province.
Over the weekend, Health Canada announced restrictions on the device, which was reported to deliver test results in under 60 minutes. The health agency initially approved the devices for use in April, but walked it back Sunday after the National Microbiology Lab found issues that made test results unreliable.
The company issued a voluntary recall to perform more clinical tests.
In Manitoba, officials had planned to deploy the devices in settings like hospitals where results are needed very quickly. However, the devices can process a limited number of tests per day and only one test at a time, so Roussin said they were never expected to make a large dent in testing volumes.
Scientists here had already received some of the devices to research their reliability, Roussin said.
"That's why. These things need to be validated, and right now there was some reports of under-performance," he said.
"We don't have a large number of Spartans right now and I don't have the details on any order that we have. But certainly at this time it won't be a part of our testing strategy until better results are available."
WATCH | Full news conference on COVID-19 | May 4, 2020:
With files from Aidan Geary