Manitoba nursing home residents to be tested for COVID-19 as cases grow

WINNIPEG — More than 40 health-care workers at a Winnipeg hospital have been sent home to self-isolate after two staff tested positive for COVID-19.

Health officials said it will have an impact on services at the Health Sciences Centre and some patients are being moved to a different area of the hospital.

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"They are going to have to reorganize ... it's not easy," Lanette Siragusa, the province's chief nursing officer, said Thursday.

Health officials also reported that nine residents at a nursing home in Gimli, Man., have developed symptoms of a respiratory illness and are being tested for COVID-19 after a staff member there tested positive.

Because of the positive tests, along with earlier cases at other health-care facilities, the province is expanding the use of protective equipment by nurses and other health-care workers.

Instead of donning a surgical mask, gloves and gown when dealing with a suspected COVID-19 case, staff will use the equipment for all patients, Siragusa said.

A day earlier, Manitoba announced new screening protocols for health-care staff that requires them to have their temperature taken before reporting to work — a measure that has led to long lineups outside some hospitals.

The province reported an additional 40 probable or confirmed cases on Thursday, bringing the total to 167. Five people are in hospital, four of whom are in intensive care. The province has had one death attributable to COVID-19 and 11 people have recovered.

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba's chief public health officer, has said the novel coronavirus was starting to spread in the community, not just among people who had travelled and their direct contacts.

He urged people again Thursday to stay home as much as possible.

"We want to ensure that people are aware that once we see this virus in the community in low levels, it's possible to acquire that virus should we not practise our social distancing," Roussin said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 2, 2020

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