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A new report on the early days of the novel coronavirus in Manitoba reveals that two people died as a result of an outbreak at Health Sciences Centre, while another provincial workplace had 24 cases and one death.

The report, completed in July and released this month, sheds light on the province's first grouping of COVID-19 infections, 279 cases from March 12 to May 1.

There were 30 hospitalizations reported in that period, and six Manitobans who had tested positive subsequently died. Most of those who died had underlying health conditions.

Health care workers accounted for 36 of the coronavirus infections during this period, or 13 per cent of the cases. Women accounted for 81 per cent of this group; 36 per cent were nurses. Just over 30 per cent of the health-worker cases were acquired by travel, half were acquired by close contact to a known case, while close to 20 per cent had "an unknown exposure."

The outbreak at HSC, which is not mentioned by name in the report, resulted in 25 cases, including 16 staffers and five patients. Until the report's release, the public was not told that the outbreak had resulted in two fatalities.

Also revealed in the report is that two dozen cases early on in Manitoba were recorded at a single non-health workplace. One person died. The report does not identify the workplace or its location, although it appears to have been in Winnipeg.

Manitoba health officials have consistently refused to identify workplaces stricken with COVID-19 cases if they believe there is no risk of spread to the public.

The provincial government report, titled Epidemiology of COVID-19 in Manitoba: March 12 to May 1, 2020, shows that the coronavirus was largely confined to Winnipeg in the early days. Three-quarters of the cases were recorded in the city, compared with 10.8 per cent in Southern Health, 6.8 per cent in Interlake-Eastern health authority, 6.1 per cent in Prairie Mountain Health and 1.1 per cent in Northern Health.

Those infected ranged in age from one to 90, with a median age of 42 years. Case counts were highest in people in their 20s. A total of 144 (51.6 per cent) of the reported cases were female and 135 were male.

Of those who were hospitalized, 93 per cent had at least one chronic health condition. Seventy per cent of hospitalized patients had hypertension, 43.3 per cent had diabetes, 43.3 per cent had musculoskeletal issues and 36.7 per cent had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or asthma.

Meanwhile, 148 people who were homeless were tested for COVID-19 during the first seven weeks of the provincial outbreak. Ninety-five per cent of them listed Winnipeg as their home city. More than half listed a shelter as their address.

The 174 tests conducted on this group represented 0.6 per cent of all tests performed in the province at that time. Some persons were tested more than once. Two-thirds of homeless persons tested were male.

The report does not state how many of the homeless people had tested positive for COVID-19.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Larry Kusch

Larry Kusch
Legislature Reporter

Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.

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