The number of new COVID-19 cases in Manitoba is falling, but health officials are warning the province’s risk is still high.
At the province's April 13 daily update, Manitoba chief provincial health officer Dr. Brent Roussin announced four new cases of COVID-19, with 99 people recovered. The province is tracking under 150 active cases.
“These numbers certainly are remaining low, but that could change if we loosen up on our strategies at this point,” Roussin said.
“The idea is to limit the amount of cases and the amount of severe cases, but it also gives us time to continue our preparations in the healthcare system.”
Manitoba has processed over 17,000 COVID-19 tests as of April 13.
“Some of the early numbers that we see indicate that our efforts are working,” Roussin said.
“Our social distancing strategies are keeping numbers down. We are able to flatten the curve. We need to continue our efforts to keep this progress up.”
While officials are becoming more optimistic about the Manitoba COVID-19 situation, Roussin extended the existing provincial emergency health order to the end of April. All non-essential businesses will remain closed and gatherings of more than 10 people are banned. Businesses and individuals breaking the order could face fines and arrests.
“It's very likely that social distancing strategies are going to be in place for the foreseeable future, just to what degree will depend on what we see,” Roussin said.
“We're going to have to have some restriction on group sizes, some changes in how we live day to day. I do not expect to see that degree of physical distancing strategies that we have right now in place for that many months.”
Roussin said the province may announce further restrictions this week, but other restrictions could be relaxed sooner than anticipated.
“If we double our efforts now, we could in the near future be able to relax some of these public health interventions,” he said.
Manitoba chief nursing officer Lanette Siragusa thanked everyone who stayed home over the holiday weekend and found creative ways to connect with friends and family while maintaining social distancing.
“This wasn't the typical Easter or Passover that any of us would have anticipated or preferred, but by staying socially distant, we are doing our part to flatten the curve so we can celebrate in the future together,” she said.
“Thank you all for doing your part. We truly are all in this together.”
Roussin said Manitoba would begin confirming the use of a faster way of testing later this week.