COVID-19 cluster detected at Manitoba workplace

Contact tracing is underway to isolate a small cluster of cases connected to an undisclosed workplace in western Manitoba.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 05/05/2020 (943 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Contact tracing is underway to isolate a small cluster of cases connected to an undisclosed workplace in western Manitoba.

Manitoba’s chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, also said Tuesday a seventh Manitoban has died from complications of COVID-19.

Public health officials are investigating the cluster of five cases of COVID-19 in the Prairie Mountain Health Region, Roussin said. The workplace is not connected to health care.

“The investigation shows it is not putting members of the public at risk,” he said at his daily briefing.

Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, and Lanette Siragusa, chief nursing officer for Shared Health, speak during the province’s latest COVID-19 update on Tuesday. Public health officials are investigating the cluster of five cases of COVID-19 in the Prairie Mountain Health Region. The workplace is not connected to health care and Dr. Roussin said that the investigation shows it is not putting the public at risk. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

Roussin said employees who have tested positive and their close contacts are self-isolating and detailed contact tracing is ongoing to identify possible exposures and contain the cluster.

Ten cases have been announced in Manitoba over the past week, including four on Friday. Roussin said cases connected to the cluster in western Manitoba were identified over the weekend.

The province’s top doctor said he doesn’t believe the outbreak poses a significant risk to the public and the company is cooperating with the province to test workers and put sanitization protocols in place.

"Certainly it’s led to a very thorough contact investigation and a number of people being advised to self-isolate," Roussin said.

Roussin declined to comment on where the cluster is located or what industry the company belongs to.

"It’s been investigated internally at the site and so we’re not giving further details about that," he said.

A spokesman for United Food and Commercial Workers Local 832 said the union is not aware of any outbreaks of the virus at unionized workplaces in the region, including meat packing plants and grocery stores.

Two large meat processing facilities are based in the Prairie Mountain Health Region — Maple Leaf Foods in Brandon, Man. and HyLife Foods in Neepawa, Man. — and packing plants have proven to be vectors of the virus in other communities. In High River, Alta., over 900 cases have been identified at a Cargill meat packing plant.

Chart showing daily cumulative counts of positive COVID-19 cases

“Depending on the situation … that probably would be something we would disclose given the issues in other places," Roussin said. "Our contact investigation shows that it’s not posing a risk to the public in general."

He said Manitoba’s seventh pandemic-related fatality was a man in his 70s who had underlying health conditions and was in intensive care at hospital before being moved out of the unit. Roussin said the man was not a resident of a long-term care facility.

"We extend our condolences to their family and friends,” Roussin said. "Certainly it’s sad to see each of these cases and we get lost in numbers, but we certainly realize these are all Manitobans that we’ve lost."

He said 238 people are considered to have recovered from COVID-19 and 37 cases remain active. Four people are hospitalized with no patients in intensive care, as of Tuesday afternoon. The total number of cases in Manitoba is 282 and 27,775 tests have been performed since early February.

Chief nursing officer with Shared Health, Lanette Siragusa, said the province has made a down payment to buy the rapid COVID-19 testing system known as a Spartan Cube but no decision on moving forward with the purchase has been made as the province awaits approval from Health Canada to use the test in clinical settings.

Danielle Da Silva

Danielle Da Silva

Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.


Updated on Wednesday, May 6, 2020 9:34 AM CDT: Fixes video link

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