Manitoba has 17 COVID-19 cases; drive-thru testing in Selkirk

Manitoba has reported two more Covid-19 cases, bringing the total to 17 as of March 19.

Both cases appear travel related.

Chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said one of the 17 cases has been hospitalized with mild symptoms.

“This individual is stable at this time and we will monitor the situation closely,” he said.

Public health continues to investigate one case that has not been directly linked to travel or to another confirmed Manitoba case, he said.

More than 3,200 people have been tested.

The province opened its first drive-thru testing site in Selkirk. It is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and allows people to be registered, tested and advised all without leaving their vehicles.

A drive-thru site is opening in Steinbach March 19, and another will open soon in Winnipeg.

Cameron Friesen, health minister, said the situation is evolving quickly.

“I know that at times it can feel to Manitobans like the ground is shifting underneath their feet and we should not discount the degree of anxiety” that the pandemic is creating as people stay home, he said.

“So far we have such tremendous respect for the many Manitobans who are taking this seriously,” he said.

The province’s doctors and the government have agreed to allow virtual doctor and psychotherapy visits, and labour unions in the health sector have agreed to allow staff to be moved into surge areas as they may be required.

The government is making space available at Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre to house patients separately if needed.

Friesen also said the province has received 27 ventilators to add to the 243 it already had and more are on the way.

The online self-assessment tool, designed to take pressure off the province’s health line, had 53,000 hits March 18 alone, he said.

He cautioned people not to read too much into the numbers of cases as they rise.

“The numbers are rising because our system is working,” he said.

Contact karen.briere@producer.com

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