Winnipeggers in 30s, 40s among new COVID-19 deaths in Manitoba

A Winnipeg man in his 30s and a Winnipeg woman in her 40s are among 11 new COVID-19 deaths in Manitoba, health officials say.

Manitoba hit a new record high for COVID-19 hospitalizations with 342 people in hospital on Monday, as the province added 343 new cases to its total. There are 43 positive patients in intensive care units, down one from Sunday.

Seven of the deaths are connected to outbreaks at long-term care homes, including a man and a woman in their 80s at Fairview Personal Care Home.

The deaths also include a woman in her 70s linked to the outbreak in the GA3 unit at Health Sciences Centre, a man in his 80s linked to the Villa Youville personal care home, a man in his 80s linked to the Charleswood Care Centre, a man in his 80s linked to Golden Links Lodge, a woman in her 90s linked to St. Norbert Personal Care Home, a man in his 90s linked to the Bridgepark Manor assisted living facility, and a Winnipeg woman in her 90s.

“These people are more than statistics. They are parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and brothers and sisters and now a child,” Manitoba Shared Health Chief Nursing Officer Lanette Siragusa said at a news conference Monday.

“It’s a heartbreaking loss for people, for their families and friends to endure, and it’s made harder because of the inability to gather together and comfort each other and grieve.”

WATCH | ‘These people are more than statistics’:

Chief Nursing Officer Lanette Siragusa talks about the 247 people who have died after testing positive for COVID-19. Eighty per cent of those deaths were in November. 1:24

On Saturday, health officials announced the youngest person to die of COVID-19 in Manitoba, a boy under 10 from the Winnipeg health region. 

Although underlying health problems played a role in the boy’s death, “that doesn’t diminish the loss,” Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said.

The deaths announced Monday bring the total death toll in Manitoba since the start of the pandemic to 312. Nearly 80 per cent of those deaths have occurred in the month of November.

Manitoba’s test positivity rate is 13.4 per cent, a slight increase of 0.1 percentage points from Sunday but still lower than at any other point last week.

Outbreaks at the Women’s Correctional Centre in Headingley and the Keeyask Generating Station near Thompson have been declared over. 

New outbreaks have been declared at the Lakeshore General Hospital in Ashern and West Park Manor Personal Care Home in Winnipeg.

The Winnipeg health region had the most new cases, with 207 confirmed infections, while the Southern Health region had the second most, with 53. The rest of the cases were in the Northern Health region (46), Interlake-Eastern health region (23) and Prairie Mountain Health region (14).

Manitoba has now had 16,825 confirmed coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, with 9,260 reported as still active, although that number is likely inflated due to a backlog in clearing recovered cases.

Health system at risk

Siragusa and Roussin warned that Manitoba’s health-care system is at risk of being overwhelmed if daily case counts don’t come down.

Although earlier pandemic models estimated Manitoba could have seen daily case counts of up to 1,000 at this time without any intervention, the numbers remain unsustainably high two weeks after the entire province went to red, the highest level on the pandemic scale, Roussin said.

“I think we all know we can’t continue along these lines. We have to bring these numbers down. We can’t keep losing this many Manitobans,” he said.

About 14 per cent of close contacts to positive cases develop COVID-19, which is why people need to stay home as much as possible and reduce their contacts if they want to see pandemic restrictions lifted, he said.

“I don’t think anyone wants these restrictions in place,” Roussin said.

“The consequence of lifting these restrictions right now is a much longer page of Manitobans that we lost to this virus, overwhelming of our health-care system, more strain on our health-care workers.”

Two Manitoba churches, the Church of God near Sarto, Man., and Springs Church in Winnipeg, held drive-in services on the weekend, in violation of public health orders capping gatherings at five people and ordering religious services to move online.

WATCH | Why drive-in church services aren’t allowed right now:

Dr. Brent Roussin says all church services must be virtual for the time, and even drive-in services could pose a risk. Here’s why. 1:04

When asked why the drive-in services violated the public health limits, Roussin said that although past orders made explicit exemptions for these kinds of events, there are still risks involved whenever large numbers of people gather in one place.

“Are people going to be in their car? Is that all household people in there? Does anyone need to use the washroom during this time?” he said.

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