The rising number of COVID-19 cases in southern Manitoba has prompted the provincial government to reinstate a ban on non-essential travel to Northern Manitoba.
The new ban takes effective Sept. 3 and will include exemptions for people who live in Northern Manitoba, employees of government agencies and Crown corporations who need to travel to the region for work, health care workers and people who own businesses in the area or need to travel there to deliver goods or provide professional services. Visitors are also allowed to travel directly to campgrounds or lodges in Northern Manitoba.
Manitoba’s chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin says the novel coronavirus could spread significantly if it gets into a remote or isolated community and that he had been in consultation with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) and Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), First Nations organizations that called for a new travel ban following the first positive test for COVID-19 in the north since April, which was announced Aug. 23 and declared recovered five days later.
A previous ban on travel to the north was in place from April 16 to June 26.
MKP Grand Chief Garrison Settee said the organization was pleased to hear that restrictions on northern travel would be returning.
“We are fortunate that to date, our measures have been effective in keeping COVID-19 out of the First Nations in Northern Manitoba,” Settee said in a press release. “On behalf of MKO, I send my thanks to Dr. Roussin as well as the province of Manitoba for listening to First Nations leadership and putting this measure is put into place. We have no cases of COVID-19 in our MKO First Nations and our leaders and citizens continue to do everything they can to prevent the introduction of this virus into our communities.”
Roussin announced 28 new positive tests for COVID-19 in Manitoba at Monday’s press conference – 13 in the Prairie Mountain region, seven in Winnipeg, six in the southern region and two in the Interlake-Eastman region. The Northern Regional Health Authority area had its first case since early April on Aug. 22 but that case was listed as recovered as of Aug. 28.
To date, there have been 1,214 cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba since the pandemic began and 469 were active as of Aug. 31. There were 11 people in hospital due to the virus on Monday, including one in intensive care. Fourteen people have died from the virus in the province so far.
Since early February, 137,499 Manitobans have been tested for the novel coronavirus.