Manitoba’s top doctor said the number of reported COVID-19 cases is going down, but said they haven’t decided yet on when restrictions will change or be loosened in the province.
During his first media conference of 2021, Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer, reported five deaths and 118 new cases.
Manitoba has been under Code Red restrictions since Nov. 12, 2020, with the latest orders set to expire on Jan. 8. Premier Brian Pallister hinted last week that restrictions are likely to be loosened in Manitoba.
Roussin said despite lower case numbers and the possibility of loosened restrictions, Manitobans still need to keep their guard up.
“Our test positivity rates are still quite high, our hospitalization and ICU numbers are still high, and it’s also too early to know the effects of what gathering over the holidays may have had on our numbers,” he said.
“It’s premature to determine any changes to our restrictions. We’re going to continue to monitor the impact of holiday gatherings throughout this week, and we haven’t yet landed on the new restrictions.”
Roussin said an update to the orders will be released this week.
He reminded Manitobans to continue practising ways to minimize the spread of COVID-19, including handwashing and not going outside while sick.
Roussin also addressed questions about large group sizes reported outside in Winnipeg over the weekend. The current public health orders limit outdoor gathering sizes to five people.
“You just want to avoid the large group sizes altogether, spending a lot of time, even outside,” Roussin said.
While mask-wearing in outdoor public spaces is not mandatory under the health orders, Roussin still recommended people wear a mask.
“We know that putting on and taking off your mask is often a time where you put yourself at a bit of risk for inoculating yourself, so you know, I think handwashing, wearing a mask whenever you can, it is just good advice,” he said.