Five new cases of COVID-19 in the north announced Oct. 19

Locations of new cases include Thompson, Gillam, Wabowden and Cross Lake

Five new positive tests for COVID-19 were reported in the Northern Regional Health Authority Oct. 19, including one new case in Thompson.

Other new cases included one in the Bay Line Health district, one in the Gillam/Fox Lake Cree Nation health district, one in the Cross Lake/Pimicikamak Cree Nation health district and one from an unknown district, which may be a person from outside the north who was tested in the region or a former resident of the area who moved and did not update their address on their health card. 

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There were seven active cases and 10 recovered cases of COVID-19 in Thompson on Monday, but at least one other case in the north – listed as having come from the Nelson House/Nisichawyasihk Cree Nation (NCN) health district – is an NCN member who lives in Thompson, according to information posted online by NCN Chief Marcel Moody.

Manitoba’s chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said Oct. 19 that he didn’t believe any further cases had been linked to the five at the Thompson YWCA that prompted the province to declare an outbreak at the facility last week but that there were new cases being found in Thompson in which the source of the infection had not been identified.

“We do know that we’re seeing more cases in Thompson,” Roussin said. “We know now that we’re seeing non-epi-linked cases in the Thompson area, so we’re watching that situation very closely.”

Roussin also took time to remind Manitobans that there is a ban on non-essential travel from the province’s south to north of the 53rd parallel.

“We’ve heard of people, non-essential travel to the north we’re also seeing increasing cases in the Northern Health Region that we’re watching very carefully so we want to ensure that we’re protecting the north and the remote isolated communities,” he said.

Although the number of cases in the north has more than doubled in the past two weeks and gone from three overall in Thompson since the pandemic began to 17 overall now, Roussin said people are not powerless against COVID-19.

“I think what we need to continue to conclude is that we’re not helpless against this virus, that we’ll see those numbers double, but it’s not out of our hands. We can all take steps right now to reduce the impact of that transmission. That’s those fundamentals,” Roussin said. “We’ll continue to adhere to the northern travel restrictions, all those fundamentals – handwashing, staying home when you’re ill, physical distancing, wearing a mask in indoor public places – we all know what we can do and we know that it’s challenging to adhere to all the time, but that would be my message – let’s get back to the fundamentals and we’ll start seeing the interruption of transmission.”

Possible exposures to COVID-19 occurred in Thompson at Salon Italia between the hours of 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Oct. 9. Possible exposures also occurred on Maple Bus Lines trips from Thompson to Winnipeg Oct. 7-8 and Oct. 9-10 between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

The Town of Snow Lake confirmed that someone who had COVID-19 had been working in Snow Lake, adding the person who tested positive was a resident of Thompson who had come to work in the community for Strilkiwski Trucking. The person who tested positive is now self-isolating in Thompson.

There have been no possible exposure sites or other cases connected to the initial case.

“Contact tracing and identification of individuals affected by being in contact with this person has been completed and those individuals have been sent home to isolate as a precaution… public health has said that the risk to the general population of Snow Lake is low,” reads an Oct. 19 statement from the Town of Snow Lake, signed off on by Mayor Peter Roberts.

Gillam Mayor Dwayne Forman said in a message posted on Facebook Oct. 19 that all close contacts of the person in the Gillam/Fox Lake health district who tested positive had been informed and were self-isolating and monitoring themselves for symptoms, while the person with COVID-19 was also self-isoalting and is in daily contact with health region officials.

Possible exposure to the virus occurred in Gillam at the Assiniboine Credit Union Oct. 13-16 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. each day.

The Bay Line district case is in Wabowden. Mayor Reg Meade said in a message posted on Facebook Oct. 18 that he and council had been informed of a positive case in the community.

“Our health team will be doing testing tomorrow morning for those  who have come into direct contact,” said Meade’s message. “Everyone will have a chance for testing. Please be patient and self-monitor yourself until you are able to be tested.”

O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation in South Indian Lake said Oct. 15 that there have been three positive tests among residents of the community, although only two active cases are listed for the health district it is in on the province’s website.

Province-wide, cases in Manitoba remain near all-time high levels. Cases were found in all five Manitoba health regions Oct. 19, with 80 total cases found. Of those 80 cases, 51 were found in Winnipeg. Two more deaths were also reported - a man in his 70s and a woman in her 80s, both in Winnipeg and both linked to an outbreak at the Heritage Lodge long term care home in the provincial capital. The province has now seen 42 deaths from COVID-19, 21 of which have taken place in October. On average, at least one death has been reported in Manitoba each day this month.

The test positivity rate has sat around four to five per cent in recent days, with the provincial rate sitting around 4.2 per cent.

As of Oct. 19, there are 1,743 active cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba, with 28 people in hospital and six in intensive care with the disease. Out of the 1,743 active cases, 1,484 are in Winnipeg.

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