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This article was published 15/3/2020 (312 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The number of cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba is growing.

Manitoba's chief provincial public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, said Sunday there are three presumptive positive cases of COVID-19, in addition to four confirmed cases.

The additional cases involve a man in his 70s, a woman in her 70s who had recently travelled, and a woman in her 50s.

The only other details provided are that one of the new cases involves a person from the Interlake and a person in Winnipeg.

Roussin advised all Manitobans, including health providers, to cancel or postpone non-essential international travel.

"By cancelling or postponing our international travel plans, we're limiting the importation of this virus back into Manitoba," he said.

He said travellers who are abroad should strongly consider returning to Manitoba as soon as possible.

"People without symptoms: there is no need for you to be tested."

"There are growing travel restrictions in many parts of the world. You could become ill when you are away, or be forced to quarantine, so consider all of these when travelling," Roussin said. "Now is not the time to travel outside of Canada."

He also said anyone who had returned to Manitoba after travelling internationally in the last 14 days, should self-isolate.

"We know in Canada, the vast majority of cases are travel-related," Roussin said.

The province said plans are being made to screen health care workers who return to Manitoba from international travel.

900 tests done

Nine-hundred people have been testing for the novel coronavirus at four testing sites in the city in the last three days, said chief nursing officer Lanette Siragusa.

Health Links, a telephone line, received more than 1,000 on Saturday.

International travellers who have cold or flu symptoms within two weeks of coming back to Canada should contact Health Links at 204-788-8200 or toll-free at 1-888-315-9257, the province advised.

Lanette Siragusa, chief nursing officer and health system integration lead with Shared Health. (Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press)</p>

Lanette Siragusa, chief nursing officer and health system integration lead with Shared Health. (Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press)

"Now is not the time to travel outside of Canada."

Roussin said there are two groups of people who should be tested: those who have returned from international travel who have symptoms — respiratory problems such as shortness of breath, a fever or cough — and those who are symptomatic and have been in contact with a known case.

He emphasized that people who have no symptoms, should not ask to be tested.

"People without symptoms: there is no need for you to be tested," Roussin said. "There is a growing demand on our lab. We want to make sure we can test as many eligible people as possible."

Health Sciences Centre

Health Sciences Centre in downtown Winnipeg is restricting the number of public entrances beginning immediately, so visitors can be screened for COVID-19.

These restrictions will protect patients who may have underlying medical conditions that put them at greater risk of severe illness due to COVID-19.

Patients will only be allowed one visitor at a time. Exceptions will be made at a manager’s discretion for special circumstances, such as visitors who require an escort or those seeing patient nearing the end of their life.

At the entrance at 700 William Ave. on Sunday, members of the public were allowed into the building and directed to stand in line so they could be questioned about their health, including whether they had recently returned from travelling internationally. Once cleared, they were asked to use hand sanitizer before visiting a patient.

"I strongly discourage Manitobans from being fearful, and panic–buying and hoarding of supplies."

Scrap sick notes

Roussin stressed that businesses must allow workers to call in sick without having to produce a sick note. Requiring such a note, he said, puts an unnecessary burden on health care professionals.

"Our system needs to focus on this pandemic, not on signing notes for individuals right now," he said.

Siragusa said Sunday the Access Centre in Thompson would accept patients for testing starting on Monday. It will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Other centres in rural Manitoba will open next week, she said.

Similar measures are being considered for other health-care facilities throughout the province and at long-term care homes.

Stop panicking

Roussin cautioned Manitobans to stay calm and understand there is no evidence of community-wide transition of COVID-19. He said Manitoba is being proactive by taking measures so quickly.

"I strongly discourage Manitobans from being fearful and panic-buying and hoarding of supplies," he said.