While reporting on Sunday that Manitoba has surpassed the 200 mark in terms of positive and probable cases of COVID-19, the chief provincial public health officer also released some positive news.
Dr. Brent Roussin said the health care worker at Betel Home in Gimli who had tested positive for the virus on Wednesday, is in fact, negative. He said it has been concluded the worker had a false positive test initially.
The province had said on Saturday that all nine residents of the long-term care home who had been tested for the virus, had negative results.
On Sunday, the province reported a total of 203 cases of the virus had been identified in Manitoba. Eleven people were in hospital, with seven of them receiving treatment in intensive care.
Roussin was asked if he could shed light on whether Manitoba is "flattening the curve" of the virus, as has been reported by other provinces such as B.C. and Ontario.
"Isolation centres are for those who may require some additional support"
He said it’s too early to tell because Manitoba’s first case was reported on March 12, while B.C. and Ontario first reported cases in late January.
He repeated the message that people must stay inside and only venture out when necessary, such as getting groceries or medication: "Stay home when you can. Only go out for essentials… If you have to go out, practise social distancing," he said.
The advice applies to every community in the province, he said.
He called on families to cancel get-togethers at Easter, which is next weekend.
Province opens first isolation centre
Meantime, the province is opening its first isolation centre for people who have tested positive for COVID-19 or been exposed and can’t isolate at home because of a vulnerable family member.
Lanette Siragusa, Shared Health’s chief nursing officer, said Manitoba is opening its first isolation centre this weekend.
"Isolation centres are for those who may require some additional support as they self isolate," Siragusa said during the province’s daily news conference on Saturday.
"It will include health care workers and other Manitobans who have COVID-19, who may have been exposed, or they need a dedicated required space to isolate them from their families, loved ones or their roommates."
Siragusa said once a person has been taken into the isolation centre they will have to actually isolate.
"Guests will be required to self isolate in their rooms at all times," she said. "There will be zero contact whenever possible."
Siragusa said the first people accepted will not be people who don’t want to be there.
"If there are people who have different social needs, and they are not complying with the public health orders, that would be a different route and it would be a strategy we would have in place to manage," she said.
"The first one is for people who are compliant and could self isolate at home but, for whatever reason, someone in their home, a little person or a chronically ill person makes it a higher risk situation."
Siragusa said the centres will have enhanced cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing. They will have a separate area for people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and another for people who have to isolate because they have been exposed to someone.
She said the Winnipeg one is the first, but the province does have plans to open others, including in Brandon.
"We’re starting off slow this weekend," Siragusa said.
"We want people to arrive, be safe, have a clear pathway to their rooms and make sure they have everything they need in terms of food and how they can call for help.
"We will continue to refine it and grow it as the need demands."
Siragusa said Saturday that of those who had tested positive for the virus, 14 are health care workers, with 12 working in Winnipeg and two others from the Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority.
Two people have died of the virus.
The latest updates on the novel coronavirus and COVID-19.
Meanwhile, while a custodian at Windsor Park Collegiate has become the second death related to COVID-19 in the province, the superintendent of the Louis Riel School Division said in an email sent out to parents and guardians of students on Saturday that public health officials have not confirmed to the division how the man died.
The email, from superintendent Christian Michalik, said "we do not have confirmed details from Manitoba Public Health authorities on the cause of this employee’s passing.
"If there were any additional steps or recommendations to ensure the continued safety of our staff, students and parents/guardians, Manitoba Public Health would provide us with those processes. I can assure you, they have not been in touch with us regarding any additional steps."
The 55-year-old custodian told the school’s principal on March 18, before the province ordered schools to close classes on March 23, that he was feeling sick. He was told go to home and contact Manitoba Health Links.
The man was diagnosed with pneumonia on March 23, by the 27th he was in intensive care, on April 2, he died.
Kevin Rollason Reporter
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press.
Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.
— Manitoba has 203 positive and probable cases of COVID-19
— 11 individuals are hospitalized, including seven in intensive care
— 17 individuals have recovered from COVID-19
— Two people in Manitoba have died
As of April 5, 12,998 tests have been performed at Cadham Provincial Laboratory
No masks, gloves for home care workers
The union that represents many home care workers in Manitoba says its members will be without personal protective equipment for another week, despite a directive they be used as of April 4.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents home care workers in Winnipeg and southern and northern Manitoba, says the province issued a directive that home care workers use equipment such as masks and gloves as of April 4, but due to a shortage, some won't have access to it until the week of April 13.
"The lack of (equipment) for home care workers is yet another indignity that home care workers have been forced to endure from a health care system and government that treats them as second class," said Christine Lussier, president of CUPE Local 8600, which represents northern workers.
The union has written to Health Minister Cameron Friesen asking that supplies be made available now.
There is a global shortage of such supplies, but Canada is expecting a shipment to arrive on Monday.
CUPE raised attention to its list of outstanding work issues. It says that unlike other public health care workers in the province, home care workers do not have fully paid sick time, extended health care benefits, long-term disability and a guaranteed defined-benefit pension.