Manitoba recorded nine COVID-19 related deaths for the second day running Nov. 12, bringing the total since the pandemic began to 132.
Eight of the people who died were from Winnipeg and one was from the southern health region.
There were 474 new cases of the virus reported provincewide on Thursday and 227 Manitobans in hospital, 34 of them in intensive care. The test positivity rate in Manitoba was 11 per cent.
In the north, 20 new cases were reported Nov. 12, in health districts including The Pas/Opaskwayak Cree Nation/Kelsey, Grand Rapids/Mosakahiken/Moose Lake/Easterville/Chemawawin, Sayisi Dene/Tadoule/Barren Lands/Brochet/Northlands/Lac Brochet and Pukatawagan/Mathias Colomb Cree Nation, which reported its first positive test for COVID 19. The number of northern residents in hospital increased by one from Wednesday, with 14 people hospitalized, including one in intensive care.
At a press conference to address public health orders that came into effect at 12:01 a.m. Nov. 12, chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said that although they allow gatherings of up to five people, Manitobans should not socialize outside their household. He also noted that these are the most restrictive public health orders that have been in place since the pandemic began.
"We had no limits on private gatherings in the spring,” he said. “This is really breaking ground for us. It’s difficult but it’s definitely needed.”
The rapid rise in the number of cases of COVID-19 in Northern Manitoba in the last six weeks is mostly attributable to large gatherings, Roussin said.
“We’ve seen a lot of gatherings lead to transmission. We’ve seen that in funeral settings and other types of gatherings. It’s certainly not unique there. We’ve seen that in pretty much every region but it just highlights the importance of not gathering right now.”
The second wave has seen overrepresentation of younger people among new cases – 40 per cent of all cases in the north since the pandemic began have been among people aged 29 or younger.
“That’s why early on in the second wave we saw relatively lower hospitalization rates,” Roussin said. “We’re now seeing that trend change as we’re seeing it’s getting into older age groups. It’s getting into personal care homes and it’s getting into First Nation communities.”
Roussin expressed concern about increasing numbers of cases and hospitalizations among First Nations people.
“It’s very concerning to see that disproportionate effect.”.
He also said that Manitoba can’t continue the way it been going. New daily case count numbers in the province in recent days are close to or more than double what they were a few weeks ago.
“Even these case numbers right here we can’t sustain in the long term.,” Roussin said. “We need to see these numbers come down and we certainly could not sustain another doubling of these numbers without any intervention. Out hospitals are nearing capacity.”