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Still no confirmed cases of coronavirus after 97 Manitobans tested

Chief provincial public health officer urges public to avoid misinformation

Mike Sudoma / Winnipeg Free Press Files</p><p>Manitoba Chief Public Health Officer, Brent Roussin.</p>

Mike Sudoma / Winnipeg Free Press Files

Manitoba Chief Public Health Officer, Brent Roussin.

Nearly 100 Manitobans have been tested for COVID-19 and, as of Thursday, no one has tested positive, the chief provincial public health officer said Thursday. 

The risk of getting it remains low, Dr. Brent Roussin said at the legislature during a weekly update on Manitoba’s preparations for handling an outbreak.

He said 97 tests have been conducted in Manitoba as of Thursday, and no COVID-19 cases were confirmed. 

"Right now we’re in the containment stage, so we’re searching hard for that index case," — the first confirmed COVID-19 patient, said Roussin. 

"Our preparedness has to include the eventuality of community-wide transmission," he said. "We’re increasing our ability to test and we’re preparing our health systems should that eventuality arise."  

Roussin urged Manitobans to wash their hands frequently, use proper cough etiquette, stay home when they have symptoms, stay away from those who are showing symptoms and stay on top of a developing situation.

"Try to avoid misinformation," said Roussin, encouraging those with questions to call Health Links and to look for answers from reliable online sources, such as the Manitoba Public Health and Public Health Agency of Canada websites. 

Shared Health and the province are working together to prepare for COVID-19, said Lanette Siragusa, Shared Health’s provincial lead for health system integration and quality and chief nursing officer, who joined Roussin for Thursday’s COVID-19 briefing.

"We have been working on a provincial co-ordinated response for the past several weeks," Siragusa said.

When asked about plans for public operations like Winnipeg Transit, Siragusa didn’t offer any specifics.

"We have made sure that the information we’re developing — whether it’s protocols or guidelines — are available on the website," she said. "We are happy to share that information with whatever organization feels they would like it. We can certainly be consulted if there’s specific questions. We would encourage all organizations to develop their local plans," Siragusa said.

All sites in all health regions are looking at their "critical care capacity" to make sure they have what they need in case there is an outbreak of coronavirus with very sick people.

"They need to have those plans in place," said Siragusa.

When asked if there are enough front-line hospital staff outfitted with N-95 masks, a concern raised by the Manitoba Nurses Union, Siragusa said those masks are required for doing "aerosol-generating procedures" like intubating a COVID-19 patient, which so far hasn’t happened.

Roussin said people need to be prepared in case they’re required to self-isolate at home for 14 days. He said there’s no need to "stockpile" supplies — just make sure they have two weeks’ worth of medication and food.

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders’ reporting on newcomers to Canada has made international headlines, earned national recognition but most importantly it’s shared the local stories of the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home.

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