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With zero COVID-19 cases reported thus far in July, Manitoba’s top doctor is warning people not to be complacent about the novel coronavirus — and to brace for the fall.
Dr. Brent Roussin says Manitoba could be hit with a second wave of COVID-19 worse than the 325 cases reported so far in the first.
"Manitoba's numbers remain favourable, but we need to remain vigilant to keep those numbers low," Roussin said at a news conference Thursday. He reported there are only four active cases in the province, none of which are hospitalized, and 314 people have recovered.
"Manitobans are well-versed in the things that have led to our flattening of the curve: hand hygiene, physical distancing and, most importantly, now as we move forward, is to stay home when we're ill," Roussin said. ''This is going to be vital to our success.
"We can't have people with symptoms of respiratory illness going to work or to school. We need to ensure we're protecting everyone and staying home when ill."
Even if there are no active cases in Manitoba, people can't let their guard down: a lot more COVID-19 cases are expected, he warned.
"We need to prepare to see an increase in cases in the fall, higher than even our first wave, possibly," the chief provincial public health officer said. "We're going to do whatever we can to not get back into an area where we were in March and April, with large shutdowns.
"We want to learn how to live with this virus."
That means reducing the risk — especially for those most susceptible to severe outcomes. Health officials are working on a messaging campaign urging residents to get a seasonal flu shot and, if they have symptoms, to get tested for COVID-19 and stay home.
"The early identification of cases is vital so we can do that contact tracing, we can isolate cases," Roussin said. "We're going to be getting Manitobans prepared to see increased absenteeism at work and increased absenteeism at school, because we want those people to be at home when they're ill."
The province has increased its stockpile of personal protective equipment and has "a much better system of tracking our stores of PPE," Roussin said.
"Even if we see influenza A activity in November and not COVID, we don't know that COVID won't be here in December or January, so we're going to need to treat this upcoming respiratory (flu) season as a COVID season until proven otherwise."
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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