Manitoba records first COVID-19 death, tightened restrictions on public gatherings coming March 30

A Manitoba woman in her 60s has died from COVID-19, chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said at a March 27 press conference.

The woman was from Winnipeg and had been in intensive care. She was among 14 new positive tests for the novel coronavirus reported by the province March 25.

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There have also been three more positive tests in Manitoba for the virus, bringing the total of probable and confirmed cases to 39. The locations, ages and genders of the newest positive tests have not been announced.

On March 26, 606 COVID-19 tests were processed and 6,203 tests have now been done in Manitoba since the first positive test on March 12.

“Hearing this tragic news very likely may increase anxiety levels for many Manitobans,” said Roussin. “Now is not the time for fear. Now is the time for action. all Manitobans have a role to limit days like this.”

The province is elevating measures instituted under the Public Health Act to limit public gatherings, announcing that no more than 10 people may gather in any indoor or outdoor location as of 12:01 a.m. March 30. This includes religious facilities and family events such as weddings or funerals, but not places where health or social services are provided, such as child-care centres or homeless shelters. Stores such as supermarkets, pharmacies and gas stations, as well as public transportation facilities must ensure separation of between one to two metres between patrons.

Roussin said he knows of only one other person besides the woman who died who was hospitalized as a result of COVID-19, though that patient was subsequently discharged.

“Almost all of those individuals [who have tested positive for the virus] are recovering at home,” said Roussin. 

Manitoba chief nursing officer Lanette Siragusa says that Health Links received 2,560 calls from people wondering if they should be tested for COVID-19 on March 26 and that the average wait time was 18 minutes. She said hundreds of new lines have been added for today to enable people to get through immediately.

“Wait times and busy signals should be done,” said Siragusa.

People who tested negative for the virus should be getting informed of their results soon. Anyone who tests positive receives an expedited phone call from public health, said Siragusa.

Roussin said that while they don’t have evidence of community transmission in Manitoba yet, he expects it based on what is happening in other provinces.

“We know that’s coming to Manitoba,” he said.

As of 11 a.m. Eastern time March 27, there were 4,018 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba and 35 probable cases, not counting the three announced in Manitoba this morning, and 39 people have died. Across the country, 164,564 people have been tested for the virus. 

Quebec has 1,629 cases and eight deaths. Ontario has 858 cases and 15 people have died. There are 725 COVID-19 cases in B.C., where 14 people have died. There are 486 confirmed cases in Alberta and two residents of that province have died from the novel coronavirus.

© Melita New Era