Manitoba’s COVID-19 testing being expanded beyond returning travellers and contacts of known cases

Manitoba’s chief public health officer said March 26 the testing capacity of the Cadham Provincial Laboratory is increasing and that the province its expanding its testing parameters beyond contacts of known COVID-19 cases and returning international travellers showing signs of respiratory illness.

On Wednesday, 734 COVID-19 tests were conducted in Manitoba and there have been 5,606 COVID-19 tests done so far in the province.

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As testing capacity is increasing, the public health department is expanding its list of people who will be tested. COVID-19 testing will now be provided to symptomatic health care providers, people who live in remote communities, including First Nations, those who live in group settings such as correctional facilities, shelters or long-term care and residential facilities, as well as people in remote work camps.

Testing is just one component of public health’s pandemic strategy, said chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin. 

“Equally as important is our social distancing strategy,” he said. “We need to consider the entire program at once if we want to adequately affect the impact of this virus on Manitobans. The most important way to reduce the spread of this virus is to stay home as much as you can.”

Manitoba’s chief nursing officer Lanette Siragusa said that people whose tests came back negative but have not heard back from the lab should be getting those results soon.

“They will start calling tomorrow,” she said, with results about tests done today and any backlog from previous days. Roussin said by the end of the week that the time between tests being performed and results being provided will be back down to about 48 hours.

One new case of COVID-19 has been identified in Manitoba since yesterday in a man in his 20s from Winnipeg which appears to be linked to a previously announced case of the virus. That brings the total number of probably or confirmed cases to 36. 

As of 11 a.m. March 26, there were 3,355 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada and 24 probable cases, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, not counting the one new Manitoba case announced by Roussin. All the probable but not confirmed cases are in Manitoba.

Thirty-five Canadians have died from COVID-19, including 14 in B.C., where there are 659 cases the virus, and 13 in Ontario, where there are 858 cases. Six people have died in Quebec, which has 1,339 cases. In Alberta, where there are 419 COVID-19 cases, two people have died.

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