New COVID-19 case reported in northern Manitoba, province works through test backlog

One new case of COVID-19 was reported in northern Manitoba Thursday as provincial testing numbers begin to heat up.

Manitoba chief provincial health officer Dr. Brent Roussin announced 40 new positive tests April 2, increasing the province's overall number of cases to 167. One of the 40 positive tests was in the Northern Health Region (NHR). The location or community of origin of the new positive test was not announced.

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COVID-19 testing at Manitoba's Cadham Provincial Laboratory is beginning to speed up.

Roussin announced in a daily update April 1 that the lab can process a test in under 48 hours.The Cadham lab tested 1,300 samples April 1, bringing the province’s total tests over 11,000. 

Manitoba’s health care facilities are beginning to feel the strain caused by the virus. At least 40 nurses from the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg are in self-isolation after potential exposure and the province announced a possible outbreak at a personal care home in Gimli after an employee tested positive.

“Stay home if you're having any symptoms,” Roussin said. 

“This includes our health care workers. Even mild symptoms are important. Stay home if you're ill.”

Manitoba chief nursing officer Lanette Siragusa said in the update that the province would increase the amount of protective equipment health care workers wear at COVID-19 testing sites.

“We'll make sure that we support regions and facilities and staff to ensure that they have the appropriate equipment to keep them safe,” she said. 

“We had planned for this eventuality and the escalation of cases in recent days at health care facilities means that it is time for us to begin implementing this change.”

Roussin praised the Cadham lab for expanding their testing, adding workers there are now able to test more groups of people and are beginning to detect community transmission of the disease.

“We've now increased testing to all symptomatic health care workers and testing First Nations is a priority,” he said. 

“The people at Cadham Provincial Lab have put us in a very good position for our testing capabilities.”

Siragusa reminded Manitobans testing sites are not walk-in facilities. Symptomatic people are encouraged to call Health Links - Info Santé at (204) 788-8200 or toll-free at 1-888-315-9257 to see if they need to be tested.

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