Manitoba posts record-tying 9 COVID-19 deaths and 474 new cases on Thursday
Record-high test positivity rate, hospitalizations also announced
Manitoba's chief public health officer urged people in the province to stop socializing with those they don't live with, after another "sobering" round of record-setting COVID-19 numbers on Thursday.
"The message is: stay home. The message is: do not socialize outside of your household," Dr. Brent Roussin said at a news conference.
Along with 474 new cases of the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, Roussin announced a provincewide test positivity rate of 11 per cent (11.4 in the Winnipeg area) and hospitalizations that have climbed to 227 (including 34 people in intensive care).
The latest update also marked the second straight day Manitoba announced nine more deaths — highest number of coronavirus-linked fatalities reported in a single day in the province.
Those numbers came as all of Manitoba was moved to the red, or critical, level of the province's pandemic response system.
That shift left the provincewide cap on gatherings at five, but comes with a strong recommendation to avoid socializing with anyone you don't live with — one Roussin pleaded with people to take seriously.
"These orders are here to save Manitobans' lives," he said. "We don't need to find a way around them. We just need to find a way to step up and follow them."
That five-person maximum, which does not include household members who are hosting, came into effect across Manitoba on Nov. 2.
It's unchanged in the measures rolled out on Thursday, contrary to statements Roussin made earlier this week when he said gatherings with people outside the household would be banned.
Roussin said such a ban would be difficult to enforce and require too many exemptions, and so is not part of Manitoba's latest public health order — but it's still advice people should follow, he said.
The province no longer has a handle on the transmission chains of its COVID-19 cases, he said, and he's worried about accelerating cases and hospitalizations among people on First Nations.
The restrictions introduced in Manitoba this week are the toughest the province has seen during the pandemic, Roussin said. Even with widespread shutdowns in April, group sizes of 10 people were still allowed and no restrictions on private gatherings were brought in, he said.
WATCH | Dr. Brent Roussin explains how new gathering rules are stricter than during spring shutdowns:
The new rules also shut down gyms, places of worship, theatres, hair salons, recreational centres and non-essential retail stores. Those measures will stay in place for at least two weeks, but likely longer, Roussin said.
Care home deaths increase
The deaths announced in Manitoba on Thursday include four people linked to the outbreak at the Maples Long Term Care Home, he said: three men and one woman, all in their 80s.
They also include a woman in her 90s linked to the outbreak at Holy Family Home, a man in his 80s linked to the outbreak at the Bethesda Regional Health Care medicine unit and a man in his 60s linked to the outbreak at Parkview Place Long Term Care Home.
Two other Winnipeg women not linked to any outbreak — one in her 50s and one in her 70s — were also among the deaths announced Thursday.
Meanwhile, an outbreak has been declared at the River East Personal Care Home in Winnipeg, which has now been moved to the critical red level of the pandemic response system.
Most of the new cases announced Thursday — 315 — are in the Winnipeg health region. There are 94 in the Southern Health region, 26 in the Interlake-Eastern health region, 20 in the Northern Health region and 19 in the Prairie Mountain Health region.
Manitoba also announced two new COVID-19 test sites on Thursday: one at 2007 Saskatchewan Ave. W. in Portage la Prairie and another at Assiniboia Downs (3975 Portage Ave.) in Winnipeg. Those sites will together increase testing capacity by up to 520 per day, the province said in a news release.
More details about locations and hours for the new sites will be available on the province's website.
There have now been 9,782 cases of COVID-19 detected in Manitoba. Of those, 6,030 are considered active, though Roussin said that number is skewed because of a data entry backlog and is likely closer to 3,163.
Another 3,620 people have recovered and 132 have died.
On Wednesday, 3,717 more COVID-19 tests were completed in Manitoba, bringing the total done in the province since early February to 300,169.
Possible COVID-19 exposures are listed on the province's website.
WATCH | Full Nov. 12, 2020, COVID-19 news conference: