Two of the recent COVID-19 cases found in Manitoba were people who travelled out of province, came into contact with a known case of COVID-19 and did not self-isolate for two weeks upon their return, public health officials confirmed Monday.
Last Friday evening, the province released information about two new cases: a man and woman both in their 50s from the Southern health region. One of them had also visited JT’s Store and Diner on Penner Drive in Blumenort, Man., while symptomatic around 6 p.m. on June 10.
On Monday, Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin confirmed that the couple had travelled to Alberta and the U.S. While in Alberta, they came in contact with a known positive case of COVID-19.
“It appears that the self-isolation orders were not followed, so certainly there could be penalties imposed,” said Roussin.
“Most Manitobans are knowing that we’re in this together, and things like stigma and fear isn’t what’s going to get us through it — it’s working together,” he said.
“We find, in public health, we’re much better able to help protect the health of Manitobans through cooperation with people than levying fines.”
Penalties for people who break the public health order are in place for situations where people refuse to comply, Roussin explained, so the best way tends to be educating people so they get back to following rules.
Manitoba entered Phase 3 of its reopening on Sunday. According to the plan, Manitobans travelling from Western Canada or northwestern Ontario are no longer required to self-isolate when they come home.
But public health rules also state that anyone who comes in contact with a known case of COVID-19 is required to self-isolate.
Truckers make up 3 of last 6 new cases
One new case of COVID-19 was found in Manitoba on Monday: a truck driver in his 40s from the Southern Health region.
The testing actually took place in Ontario, which is where the trucker travelled, Roussin said.
There are now 14 active cases in the province, after five new cases of COVID-19 were identified last weekend.
One of the cases announced Friday was also a truck driver in his 40s, from the Winnipeg region. A case found Saturday was a trucker in his 30s, also from Winnipeg.
“We knew that the highest risk to Manitobans was the importation of the virus,” said Roussin on Monday.
“Even though we’ve seen this increase in cases, we’re not seeing significant community contacts. Any contacts are simply household [contacts] for the vast majority of these. [They’re] getting tested appropriately, isolating appropriately and also limited contacts with others,” he said.
Public health officials will continue with their messaging and their work with the trucking industry, Roussin added.
A woman in her 20s from Winnipeg also tested positive for COVID-19. This was discovered through the province’s asymptomatic testing, Roussin said.
No one is in hospital due to the illness.
There were 1,951 COVID-19 tests conducted last weekend, pushing the total performed since February to 58,221.
There were 272 health-care workers tested for the illness caused by the novel coronavirus last week — none were positive.
Nearly a month ago, personal care homes were supposed to have plans in place to allow for outdoor visits between residents and their loved ones.
On Monday, Manitoba Health Minister Cameron Friesen announced changes to visitations to personal care homes, including allowing indoor visits.
“There was a lot of work behind the scenes to make sure that we made this as safe as possible,” said Lanette Siragusa, chief nursing officer of Manitoba Shared Health.
Part of the preparation includes refresher courses on proper use of personal protective equipment, reviewing disinfectant protocols, ensuring outbreak protocols at PCHs are updated, and that screening questions have been updated, said Siragusa.
Indoor visits can start Tuesday, she said, though noting that this does not indicate a return to normal.
“Care homes will be working with residents and families to identify a small number of loved ones who can come inside to visit,” said Siragusa, and a plan must be developed to allow that to happen, including when and for how long.
“It’s not prescriptive on, it has to be the next of kin, necessarily. It’s whoever is most valuable to that resident’s care-giving,” she added.
Visitors will be required to wear non-medical masks, maintain physical distancing and will be screened upon arrival, she said.
“Visits may be suspended at any time, without notice, if there is an outbreak in the care home, or the community, or upon the direction of the Chief Provincial Public Health Officer,” said Siragusa.
“This is a high-risk population, and we do want to find a balance between making sure that people can visit their loved ones and stay safe, so we’re asking all Manitobans to support us in this.”
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