Northern Manitoba surpassed 400 total cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began with the announcement of 41 new cases by the provincial government Nov. 10, the same day it was announced that the entire province would be moved to the critical level on the Pandemic Response System effective Nov. 12.
There have now been 413 cases of COVID-19 in the north since the pandemic began in March. There are 274 active cases.
The vast majority of the new northern cases announced by the province Nov. 10 were in The Pas/Opaskwayak Cree Nation/Kelsey health district, where there were more than 30 new cases, bringing the total to 142 active cases and 183 overall. The Grand Rapids/Mosakahiken/Moose Lake/Easterville/Chemawawin health district had three new cases Wednesday while the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation/Nelson House health district had two new cases, as did the Cross Lake/Pimicikamak Cree Nation health district, which now has 70 active cases.
Cases are identified by the home addresses on the health cards of people who test positive, though some may not currently be living in that health district.
Fourteen northern residents are in hospital due to COVID-19, one of them in intensive care. Another 32 northern residents are isolating in alternative isolation units throughout the region, said Manitoba chief nursing officer Lanette Siragusa. The province is increasing the number of intensive care beds available as demand dictates and also increasing the number of medical beds in all regions by converting some beds intended for surgical patients to medical beds. As a result, 449 non-urgent and elective surgeries have already been postponed and further slowdowns of such surgeries through the province are being considered.
Across the province, there were 384 new cases of COVID-19 reported Nov. 10, including five deaths, bringing the total number of deaths in the province since the pandemic began to 114. There are 207 Manitobans in hospital due to COVID-19, 30 of them in intensive care and 22 on ventilators. The current test positivity rate for the province is 10.6 per cent.
Manitoba chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said moving the entire province to the critical level of the Pandemic Response System is intended to help protect the ability of Manitoba’s health care system.
“This is a 100-year pandemic that we’re all trying to navigate our way through,” he said. “We need to take these steps now. We’re at a critical point.”
The entire province will remain at the critical level for at least two weeks, but likely longer.
“I think we should plan for four weeks,” said Roussin, who said there would have to be a reduction in the growth rate of new cases, a drastic reduction in the test positivity rate back down to three per cent or less and evidence that the health care system is not under strain in order to relax restrictions any earlier.
“Right now our numbers are higher than most other spots in Canada,” Roussin said. “Right now we're going to focus on reducing our contacts. Non-essential socializing is really what we’re trying to get at here. Socialize only within your household contacts.”