New restrictions placed on Winnipeg schools, Northern Health as 4 COVID-19 deaths announced in Manitoba

New restrictions placed on Winnipeg schools, Northern Health as 4 COVID-19 deaths announced in Manitoba

Schools in the Winnipeg area and people in northern Manitoba will soon face further restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19, Manitoba’s chief public health officer says.

Starting Monday, the Northern Health region and Churchill, Man., will see new public health orders come into effect for at least two weeks.

The new rules will be the same as those currently in place in the Winnipeg metropolitan region, which is at the orange, or restricted, level on the pandemic response system.

Schools in the Winnipeg region and Northern Health region will also see new measures in place starting Monday, which may include more learning at home.

Four more people have died of COVID-19 in Manitoba and there were 147 new cases of the illness announced on Thursday — the second-highest one-day increase in new cases.

Two of the deaths announced on Thursday — two men, one in his 70s and one in his 80s — are linked to Winnipeg’s Parkview Place personal care home. There have now been 13 coronavirus-linked deaths at the site, in the deadliest outbreak in the province.

The other two deaths were men in their 80s — one in the Winnipeg health region and one in the Interlake-Eastern health region, Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said at a news conference. 

All the cases were previously announced. The deaths bring Manitoba’s total fatalities linked to COVID-19 to 47.

Manitoba’s five-day test positivity rate — a rolling average of the COVID-19 tests that come back positive — is now 5.6 per cent, the highest it’s been in the province.

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The restrictions that will come into effect in the north include the following measures:

  • Reduced gathering sizes.

  • Casinos, bingo halls and entertainment facilities (that have a licence that requires live entertainment) must close, with the exception of providing food take-out or delivery service.

  • Occupancy limits of 50 per cent at other licensed businesses, retail stores and restaurants

  • Occupancy limits for personal service businesses of 50 per cent or one person per 10 square metres (whichever is lower).

  • Sites including restaurants or licensed premises, theatres, museums, galleries, libraries, personal service businesses, concert halls and fitness facilities need to keep contact information from people for 21 days to support contract tracing.

The rules that will apply to schools include the following measures:

  • Two-metre physical distancing will be required to the greatest extent possible.

  • Extracurricular activities will only be allowed if all learning and distancing requirements have been met.

  • Staff who move between different cohorts (including substitute teachers) will need to wear medical-grade disposable masks, which have been given to all schools.

  • Indoor choir and wind instruments will not be allowed. 

  • All field trips must be postponed or cancelled.

  • Blended in-class and online learning for grades 9 to 12 where distancing isn’t possible will continue as it has been.

  • Students from kindergarten to Grade 8 may be offered temporary remote learning options.

All other public health measures will stay in effect.

An outbreak has also been declared at the Ochekwi Sipi Cree Nation Personal Care Home on Fisher River Cree Nation after a health-care worker there tested positive for COVID-19. The facility has been moved to red on the pandemic response system.

The outbreak at the Bethesda Place personal care home in Steinbach has been declared over.

There are now 42 people in hospital with COVID-19 in Manitoba — the highest the province has seen — including eight who are in intensive care.

There are 87 new cases in the Winnipeg health region, 33 in the Southern Health region, 10 each in the Interlake-Eastern and Northern health regions and seven in the Prairie Mountain Health region.

There have now been 3,773 cases of COVID-19 identified in Manitoba. Of those, 1,920 people have recovered and 1,806 are considered active — though Roussin has previously said that number is skewed because of a data entry backlog.Another 2,220 COVID-19 tests were completed in Manitoba on Wednesday, bringing the total done since early February to 233,222.

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