Despite detecting no COVID-19 cases in the province for the ninth consecutive day, Manitoba officials aren’t planning a victory lap.
Manitoba chief provincial health officer Dr. Brent Roussin announced the province is tracking four active cases of the virus during a July 9 testing update.
“Manitobans need to expect to see cases. We need to prepare to see an increase in cases - higher than even in our first wave, possibly,” he said.
“What we want is that we don't stop our progress because we see some cases... We're going to do whatever we can to not get back into an area where we were in March and April with the large shutdowns.”
Roussin said the population should expect a shift in advice from the province on mask use heading later in the summer, toward the cold and flu season this fall.
“Manitobans are going to get used to hearing more and more about mask use,” he said.
“It’s probably going to become more and more of an approach we have here as we get closer to respiratory flu season. The big take-home message is that, for the most part, masks shouldn't be seen as a substitute for other precautions that we have.”
Officials are preparing for an increase in flu vaccine demand during the fall and winter. In the aftermath of the 2009 H1N1 outbreak, demand for flu shots increased. Under one-third of Manitobans received a flu shot last year.
“We're definitely going to see a respiratory virus season,” Roussin said.
“We're going to have to treat it as a COVID-19 virus season, because we're not going to know whether COVID-19 has made a return or not until it’s over.”
Roussin said the province wasn’t looking at active case numbers as its main benchmark.
“The fact that we have [high testing] capacity and the fact that we have really no restrictions on who can get tested, those are the important things for me rather than day by day number,” he said.
Manitoba has performed over 68,000 tests since the outbreak began.
Once again, more cases of COVID-19 have been found in Saskatchewan.
Five new cases were reported in the province July 9 - one each in the far north and central regions and in Saskatoon with two found in southern Saskatchewan. Five people are in hospital, including one person in intensive care in Saskatoon.
Forty-eight active cases are being tracked in Saskatchewan, including 32 in northern communities. Twenty-five of those cases are in the far north, the region that includes Creighton, Denare Beach and other Saskatchewan communities near Flin Flon. No cases have been reported from any northeast Saskatchewan community.
An increase in COVID-19 has been reported in Prince Albert by the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA), leading the group to provide an alert for people travelling through the city. Visitation at Victoria Hospital and at area long-term care homes has been restricted as a result.
Saskatchewan entered the next stage of its phase four reopening Thursday. According to the provincial Reopen Saskatchewan plan, bingo halls and casinos will be able to reopen as of July 9. Other public spaces, including indoor pools and rinks, arts, cultural centres like libraries and galleries, theatres, day camps, spray parks, outdoor pools and seasonal recreation areas, have been previously reopened.
The final portion of phase four, slated to include opening racetracks, rodeos, performances in restaurants and licensed establishments, car and trade shows and banquet and conference facilities, is planned to start July 16.