Manitoba reported 243 new cases of COVID-19 and five deaths on Friday, while another region was moved to the red, or critical, level in the province’s pandemic response system.
Dr. Brent Roussin, the province’s chief public health officer, announced during Friday’s news conference that the Southern Health region will move to the highest level of the pandemic system as of Monday, Nov. 9.
The region will be under restrictions similar to those currently in place in the Winnipeg area, which moved to the red level earlier this week.
Southern Health — which includes larger population centres like Steinbach, Portage la Prairie, Winkler and Morden — has seen 293 new cases since Oct. 31, including 52 new cases on Friday.
Most of the new cases Friday — 136 — were reported in Winnipeg, the current epicentre of the surge.
Another 23 are in Northern Health, 17 are in the Interlake–Eastern region, and 15 cases are in the Prairie Mountain Health region.
Of the five deaths announced Friday, two were linked to the outbreak at the Victoria General Hospital: a man and a woman from Winnipeg, both in their 90s. Another death, involving a man in his 90s, was linked to the outbreak at the Maples Long Term Care Home in Winnipeg.
A woman in her 40s from the Northern Health region and a woman in her 60s from the Interlake–Eastern region have also died.
There are now a record-high 161 people in the hospital with the illness, with 20 in intensive care, according to the latest figures from the province.
The hospitalization number has risen every day since Oct. 19, when there were 28 COVID-19 patients in Manitoba hospitals.
Critical care beds are 94 per cent full, with 78 of the province’s 84 beds in use, said Shared Health Chief Nursing Officer Lanette Siragusa.
Twenty of those patients are COVID-19 positive, with 15 on ventilators, she said.
In recent days, three ICU beds have been added to the health-care system — two in Winnipeg, and one in Brandon, she said.
Roussin urges people to stay home
The province’s test-positivity rate — a rolling average of the percentage of COVID-19 tests that come back positive — is now 9.1 per cent, also a new high.
Roussin urged people to reduce their close contacts and only go out for essential reasons to curb the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
He also said that health officials have heard reports of people trying to work around COVID-19 rules and asked Manitobans to respect the purpose of those restrictions.
“No one should be looking for ways for Manitobans to gather,” he said.
“We know that’s challenging but we must maintain our health-care system.”
Health officials are also reporting outbreaks at the The Pas Homeless Shelter–Oscar’s Place in The Pas, Maplewood Manor in Steinbach, and the St. Norbert personal care home in Winnipeg.
Those sites have now been moved to the red, or critical, level of the the province’s pandemic response system.