12 COVID-19 deaths, 325 new cases in Manitoba today

Manitoba has passed 400 deaths due to COVID-19 as 12 more people have died and there are 325 new cases, health officials say.

The five-day test positivity rate is at 13.7 per cent provincewide and 14.6 for Winnipeg.

There are 310 people in hospital due to the illness, down 38 from yesterday, with 39 people in intensive care, down from 43 on Sunday.

More than 19,000 Manitobans have tested positive to date, about two-thirds of them since the beginning of last month.

A woman in her 60s from Winnipeg, linked to the Health Sciences Centre outbreak in the GA3 unit, is among the dozen deaths announced today.

“These are all Manitobans lost to us,” Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said.

He urged Manitobans to get tested when symptomatic or otherwise advised to by a health professional. A total of 1,736 tests were done yesterday.

Active case numbers are down significantly after the province worked to catch up with a weeks-long data backlog that didn’t track all recovered cases, Roussin said.

More than 4,000 cases previously listed as active were confirmed to be recovered.

The number in hospital has also dropped as a data backlog there has been partly cleared, Roussin said.

A symptomatic person with COVID-19 attended a funeral at Sapotaweyak Cree Nation on Nov. 27, and people who were there should self-isolate and call the local health centre for instructions, he said.

Roussin urged Manitobans not to travel during the holiday season.

If you choose to travel outside of Canada, you could end up stuck abroad, he said.

“Restrictions are changing quickly and may be imposed on countries with little warning,” he said.

“Your trip may become much longer than you planned. You may have reduced access to quality health care.”

He again repeated that the current number of cases is too high and it’s endangering the health-care system.

“It won’t be like this forever but is this way now,” he said.

More to come

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Manitoba health officials will provide an update on the latest coronavirus numbers in the province after the deadliest two-day period yet.

Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin and Lanette Siragusa, chief nursing officer for Manitoba Shared Health, are expected to release details about COVID-19 at 12:30 p.m. CT.

CBC News will live stream the news conference here, on CBC Gem and on Facebook and Twitter.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced this morning that several hundred thousand doses of vaccine will be available in Canada by the end of the year.

The Manitoba update comes after a weekend when 33 deaths were reported — the deadliest two-day period so far, which included a daily record 19 deaths on Saturday. 

As of Sunday, 395 people in Manitoba had died due to COVID-19, the vast majority of them in the past two months. One in five deaths due to the illness have occurred in the first seven days of this month.

Friday will mark one month since widespread restrictions closed a range of businesses, places of worship and other services when officials implemented provincewide code red restrictions under Manitoba’s pandemic response system.

Despite tightening restrictions and a gradual ramping up of enforcement, Manitoba’s COVID-19 outlook has largely worsened in the past month.

Daily new cases appear to have plateaued recently, albeit in the 300 to 400 range, and provincial test positivity rates remain among the highest in Canada.

So do hospitalization rates per capita. Manitoba had just over 220 people with COVID-19 in hospital on Nov. 12 when the near total lockdown came into effect and hit a record 361 in hospital late last week.

The latest weekly numbers also suggest Manitoba First Nations continue to be disproportionately impacted by coronavirus.

Currently, private indoor gatherings aren’t allowed. Public gathering sizes are limited to five, though officials have implored Manitobans to altogether eschew non-essential gatherings with people who don’t live with them.

In-person church services have been cancelled for weeks, but a few churches have continued to hold in-person services in defiance of public health orders and enforcement officers.

Springs Church in Winnipeg sought an exemption to hold drive-in services, but a judge ruled against the request Saturday.

Roussin and the premier have both tried to brace Manitobans for a continuation of restrictions when the current provincial health order expires on Friday, suggesting the numbers aren’t where they need to be in order to safely restore some services.

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