34 new cases of COVID-19 announced in Manitoba on Friday

Thirty-four new cases of COVID-19 were announced in Manitoba on Friday, bringing the total number of active cases to 265.

More than half of the new cases are in Southern Health region, province says

A person is screened for COVID-19 at a drive-thru test site on Main Street in Winnipeg. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

Thirty-four new cases of COVID-19 were announced in Manitoba on Friday, more than half of which are in the Southern Health region, the province said in a news bulletin.

The update brings Manitoba's total number of active cases to 265.

Nineteen new cases were announced in Southern Health region on Friday. Initial investigations into those cases suggest most are linked to a known cluster in the area, the bulletin said.

The new cases in that area include two girls: one under nine and the other between 10 and 19. The other cases in the region are three women and three men in their 20s, two women and a man in their 30s, two men in their 40s, three women and a man in their 50s, a woman in her 60s and a man in his 80s.

Another nine of the new cases are in the Winnipeg health region: a girl under nine, a boy between 10 and 19, a woman and two men in their 20s, two women in their 30s, a man in his 40s and another in his 70s.

The five new cases announced in the Prairie Mountain Health region include two boys: one under age nine and another between 10 and 19. The other new cases in that area are three men: two in their 40s and one in his 50s.

The final new case announced Friday is a woman in her 30s from the Interlake-Eastern Health region.

More information about the new cases will only be released if there's a risk to public health, the bulletin said.

The province's COVID-19 test positivity rate climbed to two per cent on Friday, from 1.9 per cent on Thursday. This marks the first time since April 5 the rate — which represents a rolling, five-day average of the number of COVID-19 tests that come back positive — hit that number.

Five people are now in hospital in Manitoba with COVID-19: one in the Interlake-Eastern region, three in the Southern Health region and one person in intensive care in the Prairie Mountain region, according to the province's COVID-19 data portal.

Manitoba's test positivity rate for COVID-19 climbed to 2 per cent on Friday. (Jacques Marcoux/CBC)

Public health officials also announced two more possible COVID-19 exposures in the province that happened this week.

One was on Aug. 18 at the Canadian Tire store in Portage la Prairie, between 1:30 and 2 p.m.

The other was in Winnipeg at the Olive Garden restaurant on Reenders Drive, from noon to 12:45 p.m on Aug. 19.

The risk of transmission is low, but public health is providing the information so people can assess their own risk.

New Prairie Mountain restrictions start Monday

Twelve people with COVID-19 in the province have died, including four within the last week.

To date, 553 people in Manitoba have recovered from the illness caused by the new coronavirus.

The total number of cases identified in the province since the start of the pandemic is now 830.

Starting Monday, people in the southwestern Manitoba Prairie Mountain Health region, which includes the city of Brandon, will be required to wear masks in public places and restrict gathering sizes to 10, Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin announced on Thursday.

The restrictions came as the health region was moved to the orange "restricted" level under the province's new colour-coded pandemic response system.

There were 242 cases identified in that region as of Friday afternoon, including 116 that are considered active, the province's data portal said. That includes 99 active cases in Brandon as of Friday.

Some of the COVID-19 cases in the southwestern Manitoba city are linked to a cluster involving workers at its Maple Leaf Foods pork processing plant. As of Friday, 70 employees of the plant had tested positive for COVID-19, UFCW Local 832 union spokesperson Chris Noto said in a news release.

Public health officials in Manitoba have previously said the Brandon workers contracted the virus outside the workplace.

Friday's new cases are spread out across nine of Manitoba's health districts. New case figures on this chart may not add up exactly with the daily announcement total, due to retroactive data adjustments made by the province. (Jacques Marcoux/CBC)

Numbers on the province's COVID-19 data portal show a significant portion of the new cases were in the Niverville-Ritchot health district. As of Friday, there were 23 active cases listed in that area.

Ritchot Mayor Chris Ewen said his municipality has been asking the province to break down the cases between the town of Niverville and the municipality of Ritchot, instead of lumping them together into one district. Making that change could give people in some of the area's smaller communities a better sense of whether the virus has been identified in their neighbourhoods, he said.

"We have the small towns, like Ile des Chênes, St. Adolphe, Ste. Agathe, Howden, which [are] … around less than 1,200 people per town. But then you have Niverville, where you're at that 5,000 mark," he said.

"To have it separated so we could see if the numbers are in fact Niverville, or regions around Niverville, such as Ritchot, that would be very helpful. But until we have those breakdowns, we really don't know how to mitigate the situation, what to do next."

Manitoba's total identified COVID-19 cases increased to 830 on Friday. (Jacques Marcoux/CBC)

Ewen said the way those numbers are broken down right now has left people feeling like they're in the dark in their own communities.

"It's all uncertainty," he said.

A new walk-in COVID-19 test site will open in Winnipeg on Tuesday, the bulletin said. The site at 2735 Pembina Hwy. will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

As a result, Access Fort Garry on Plaza Drive will no longer offer COVID-19 testing after 4 p.m. Monday.

On Thursday, 2,331 more COVID-19 tests were completed in Manitoba, bringing the total number done in the province since early February to 122,291.