Manitoba recorded its fifth straight day of double-digit increases in the number of positive tests for the novel coronavirus Aug. 10, announcing 16 new cases.
That came a day after 35 new cases were reported on Sunday. There were also 16 cases announced on Saturday and 17 on Friday as well as 30 announced Aug. 6, though that number was later revised down to 29.
The 35 cases announced Aug. 9 was either the second-highest daily total since the pandemic began (40 new cases were announced at an April 2 press conference) or the highest, as the province’s graph of daily cases since the first positive test in mid-March indicates that 33 new positive tests occurred April 1.
From Aug. 5 through Aug. 9, 113 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in Manitoba, mostly in Brandon and in the southern health region. The only other time that there have been five consecutive days of double-digit increases was from March 31 to April 4, when a cumulative total of 97 new cases were reported, according to provincial statistics online.
The number of COVID-19 cases detected in the Northern Regional Health Authority (NRHA) area remains at three and there has not been a positive test in the region for more than four months.
“We are seeing increased numbers of cases but that is to be expected,” said chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin during his regular Monday press conference, accompanied by Health Minister Cameron Friesen.
The fact that there are now more active cases - 196 - than there were in the spring when public health orders restricting most businesses from being open does not mean that the province is looking at another widespread shutdown, Roussin said.
“Fundamentals can allow people to live with the virus rather than shutting things down,” he said. “Nothing is without risk but there is risk to not sending kids back to school, there is risk with massive shutdowns.”
Those fundamentals include staying home and self-isolating when ill, practising good hand hygiene and physical distancing, and avoiding indoor gatherings. Roussin said people at increased risk due to other medical conditions or in areas with known clusters of cases like Brandon, should stay home as much as possible.
“We need to find ways to live with this virus and not continually shut things down when we see cases,” Roussin said. “We know it’s still going to be here likely a year from now, even more.”
Roussin also said that the optimal time for someone to get tested for the coronavirus is 24 hours after the onset of symptoms. Getting tested earlier than that increases the chance of a false positive result, while getting tested later can make public health contact tracing more difficult.
Friesen said by the end of this week the government may be providing “more nuanced” details about the location of active cases than simply by health region, while Roussin said it is possible that more targeted shutdowns and restrictions could be used if necessary to curb the spread of the virus in particular communities or regions.
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), which represents 26 Northern Manitoba First Nations, urged their members to remain vigilant about COVID-19 even though there are currently no active cases in the north.
“Although we have no cases in Northern Manitoba for now, we want to remind everyone to follow recommended public health measures to help prevent the spread of this virus,” said MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee in an Aug. 10 press release. “We are living through a pandemic. We all must work diligently to help protect the health of First Nations peoples. I encourage First Nations citizens to remain calm and not panic. Do not feel embarrassed or ashamed to seek out a COVID test if you have symptoms. Encourage others around you to get tested if they are showing symptoms. Let’s continue working together and supporting each other to help keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.”