WINNIPEG — Manitoba has reported two additional presumptive positive cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the total to three.
Health Minister Cameron Friesen says the first patient is a woman in her 40s from the Winnipeg area, who recently travelled through the Philippines. The woman is in isolation at home and remains in stable condition.
Both additional cases were announced late Thursday and include men in their 30s who live in the Winnipeg health region. Health officials say it appears both men were exposed to the virus through recent travel.
The province is also asking anyone who may have been on the following flights March 7 and 8 to self-isolate and monitor their symptoms for 14 days:
• Philippines Airlines flight PR 466 from Manila to Incheon, Korea – rows 48 to 54;
• Air Canada flight AC 0064 from Incheon, Korea to Vancouver International Airport – rows 30 to 36;
• Air Canada flight AC 8624 from Vancouver International Airport to Winnipeg – rows 24 to 29.
Friesen also says, beginning today, Winnipeg will open two screening centres allowing for people to receive testing in a dedicated space.
Individuals in Winnipeg directed by Health Links–Info Sante to be tested for COVID-19 will be asked to visit Access Winnipeg West (at 280 Booth Dr.) and Access Fort Garry (135 Plaza Dr.).
Screening will be available at these locations from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. on weekdays and until 4 p.m. on weekends. Those who require screening after hours will still be directed to urgent care sites and emergency departments. In addition to screening, these centres remain open for regularly scheduled clinic activities.
Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin says the province was prepared to rapidly respond.
He says the amount of testing has significantly increased and international travellers are encouraged to self-monitor and get tested.
Roussin says it’s time for people in Manitoba to begin social-distancing strategies — such as not shaking hands and avoiding crowded events — to limit chances of being exposed.
The Manitoba government announced earlier this week that it’s spending about $35 million on personal protective supplies such as gloves, face masks and hand sanitizer for patients and health-care workers.
The World Health Organization declared the outbreak of novel coronavirus disease a pandemic on Thursday.
Employers should ensure employees who are ill can stay home without facing unnecessary burdens like doctor’s notes, Roussin added. Employers should also consider cancelling non-essential work-related travel and look at whether they can conduct virtual meetings so people are not crowded closely in rooms.
Schools and educational institutions should increase distances between desks, Roussin said. They should reduce large group activities and consider conducting online classes if possible.
“We know many people are anxious and may be worried about this,”he said. “We want to reassure Manitobans that the health care system is at the highest level of preparedness for this.”
Updated at 5:23 p.m.
— With files from The Canadian Press