Five active cases of COVID-19 among Thompson/Mystery Lake health district residents

Four new cases in the north announced Oct. 14, including one in Thompson area, one in Cross Lake and two in Island Lake region

There are currently five active cases of COVID-19 in the Thompson/Mystery Lake health district after four cases were announced Monday and one more each Oct. 13 and Oct. 14.

The case in the Thompson/Mystery Lake district that was announced Oct. 5 – the first positive COVID-19 case in the area since early April – is now considered recovered and one other case in the Thompson/Mystery Lake health district was added to the recovered list Oct. 14.

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There have now been nine positive tests for COVID-19 in the Thompson area since the pandemic began, including two in early April and seven since the beginning of October.

Three other new cases in the NRHA were announced Oct. 14, two in the Island Lake health district, where there are now three active cases, and one in the Cross Lake/Pimicikamak Cree Nation health district.

Three of the cases announced in the Northern Regional Health Authority (NRHA) area over the seven days leading up to Oct. 13, which included five in Thompson, one in South Indian Lake Oct. 12, and at least one case last week, had not yet been linked to known cases as of around 1 p.m. Oct. 13, said chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin at a Tuesday COVID-19 press conference.

“I don’t really have much details on those cases,” Roussin said. “The region will be investigating those. Three of those cases … we’re unable to link to a known case at this time. Sometimes there’s a delay in getting that information.”

Roussin also announced that new exemptions would be added to the order restricting travel to Northern Manitoba and remote communities to allow people to travel to the region without self-isolating first in order to care for a seriously ill friend or family member who is not in a health-care facility, to visit a friend or family member in a health-care facility with a life-threatening illness or to attend the funeral of a family member or friend. People from outside Northern Manitoba will also be allowed to complete any required self-isolation in the north.

“These are very tightly related to compassionate reasons for caring for an acutely ill person or a critically ill person, visiting a critically ill person or attending a funeral,” Roussin said. “These are just that balance that we’re trying to achieve with the restrictions. Certainly people are required to self-isolate otherwise but we just felt with impacts of this pandemic on so many levels that we want to ensure we’re showing compassion where that’s needed.”

A checkpoint was set up on Highway 6 by Misipawistik Cree Nation (MCN) at Grand Rapids to monitor how many people were travelling to and from Northern Manitoba, said an Oct. 13 press release by Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO).

“I am very concerned about the volume of travel into the north,” said MCN Chief Heidi Cook. “The travel restrictions in place don’t seem to have any effect because they are not widely known. If there was any monitoring and enforcement happening, they would become widely known. We don’t know yet what impact Thanksgiving weekend will have in terms of cases in the north, hopefully none. But given a lot of people travel to visit family for the holiday, and this is not the best time to be doing that, Misipawistik Cree Nation put up a check stop to monitor the non-essential travel restrictions for Northern Manitoba. From 8 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 9 to 8 a.m. today, Oct. 13, we recorded a total of 1,773 vehicles passing through. Only 629 of these were considered essential travellers.”  

University College of the North (UCN) sent out an email to staff and students Oct. 13 advising that they had been informed by public health that there was a confirmed case of COVID-19 in someone connected to the Thompson campus, who was present on campus Oct. 5 while they may have been infectious. Public health investigations to identify people who may have potentially been exposed began when the case was confirmed and anyone identified as a close contact of the person who tested positive will be contacted by public health.

There are currently 21 active cases of COVID-19 in the NRHA, including eight in the Shamattawa/York Factory/Tataskweyak/Split Lake health district that have not yet been declared recovered by Manitoba public health, though York Factory First Nation Chief Leroy Constant said last week that the family in York Landing that had tested positive for the virus were considered recovered, though they planned to self-isolate for another week. There is also one active case in the Lynn Lake/Marcel Colomb First Nation/Leaf Rapids/O-Pipon-Na-Piwin/Suth Indian Lake region and two in the Bunibonibee/Oxford House/Manto Sipi/God’s River/God’s Lake health district, as well as two from unknown districts, which may be people who have moved out of the north and not updated their addresses or residents from outside the north who were tested at Northern Manitoba testing sites. Although the total number of cases in the NRHA since the pandemic began is officially 29, the province’s online dashboard shows that there have been a total of 30, including three unknown district cases.

Three NRHA residents were in hospital due to the virus as of Oct. 14, none of them in intensive care.

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