Manitoba reports 75 new cases, two in "unknown district" in north, tighter restrictions for Winnipeg

Manitoba has reported 75 new cases of COVID-19 Friday, with two cases listed as within an "unknown district" in the Northern Health Region (NHR).

The two new cases have pushed the NHR to 24 active cases of COVID-19. One person who was previously ill in the Thompson/Mystery Lake district has now recovered. That district now has four active cases, with another four listed under "unknown district". Eight cases are listed by the province as active in the Shamattawa/York Factory/Tataskweyak/Split Lake district, with two cases each in the Bunibonibee/Oxford House/Manto Sipi/God's River/God's Lake, Island Lake, Lynn Lake and Cross Lake/Pimicikamak districts and one in the Nelson House/Nisichawayasihk district.

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Restrictions on travel into northern Manitoba from the south and at the Thompson YWCA remain in place.

Within Manitoba, most of the new cases have been concentrated around Winnipeg - 63 of the 75 new cases announced Friday are within Winnipeg. Exposures at nine schools, one child care centre, two transit routes and a nightclub have been reported by the province in southern Manitoba.

Manitoba currently has 1,582 active cases of COVID-19 - more people currently have COVID-19 in Manitoba than have had the disease previously and recovered. Twenty-five people are in hospital with COVID-19, with five of those people in intensive care. In the past five days, 5.2 per cent of COVID-19 cases in Manitoba have come up positive. Over the same time, that five-day rate has been 6.3 per cent.

New restrictions are now in place in Winnipeg, which has seen most of the province's new cases. Within the city and surrounding communities, gathering sizes dropped to five maximum - in addition to household members, only five others can come to a home, for example.

Manitoba chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said the new restrictions would be added on top of existing restrictions on Winnipeg.

"These numbers show we have lost our way," said Roussin.

"We have to keep our group sizes below five to reduce the number of close contacts and prevent community transmission."

Casinos, beverage rooms and the like will be closed, while restaurants and lounges will be only allowed to operate at 50 per cent capacity,  with two-metre distancing in effect and group sizes limited to five. All other measures, including contact tracing and mask use, will stay in effect. Sports and recreation facilities will need to reduce capacity to 25 per cent of a building's maximum. The restrictions will be paired with fines and possible penalties for businesses or groups that don't follow the new rules.

Roussin advised Manitobans to keep to stick to basics in fighting COVID-19 spread - sanitizing, keeping distance, wearing masks when necessary and staying home when sick - something he said some Manitobans aren't doing.

"We know, for success moving forward, we have to stop going out when we're ill. We need to limit our contacts - for things like sporting events, for example, only one parent should go with a child if possible. The entire family shouldn't go shopping together - send one person if possible," he said.

"We know with recreational sports, we've seen a number of contacts and a number of transmission events during recreational sports. Playing a game of hockey, but having drinks afterwards with the entire team or with both teams, we're seeing transmission events."

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