Second phase reopening details coming soon for Manitoba, no new cases found Monday

Manitoba officials will release exact plans for the province's second phase of reopening the economy later this week.

Dr. Brent Roussin, the province’s chief provincial health officer, made the announcement during a May 25 testing update and briefing. No Manitobans are in hospital with the virus and the province is only tracking 17 active cases.

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“A lot of the results from phase one were largely positive,” Roussin said.

“We’re going to start compiling that feedback and hoping this week we’ll announce a firm date for when [phase two] can start.”

The proposed second phase of reopening will include some loosening of restrictions on northern travel , allowing direct travel to campgrounds and lodges.

“With these orders, we don’t want to go back and forth,” Roussin said.

“We want to keep progress reopening. We don’t want to have to draw it back should we go too quick.”

On May 22, the province announced it had begun testing asymptomatic people. Roussin said testing asymptomatic people is a low priority.

“What I’m concerned about is having the ability to ramp up our testing and we do have that capacity,” he said.

“I’m concerned we have the ability to test all symptomatic manitobans. We don’t have restrictions on who can be tested if you’re symptomatic and we have a low test-positivity rate. Those are the things I’m watching really closely.”

Roussin said the value of any negative asymptomatic test is low, because symptoms could develop days later, leading to a positive test. 

Any positive asymptomatic test will be treated the same way as other positive tests, including extensive contact tracing. Manitoba has processed nearly 40,000 tests for COVID-19 since the outbreak began.

Officials also announced a new mental health hotline, aimed to assist Manitobans with disabilities and their caregivers through the pandemic. The hotline, developed by the St. Amant Centre, can be reached outside of Winnipeg toll-free at 1-877-858-7076.

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