Man­i­toba re­ports first death from coro­n­avirus

Calgary Herald - - ACROSS THE WEST -

WIN­NIPEG Man­i­toba re­ported the prov­ince’s first death re­lated to COVID -19 on Fri­day and is re­duc­ing the size of pub­lic gath­er­ings to slow the spread of the novel coro­n­avirus.

A Win­nipeg woman in her 60s who was in in­ten­sive care ear­lier this week has died, said Dr. Brent Roussin, the prov­ince’s chief pub­lic health of­fi­cer.

“It’s a tragic loss. It’s a Man­i­to­ban that we lost and our hearts go out to their friends and fam­ily,” Roussin said. “But this is our time to act now.

“To stay home if you can, prac­tice good so­cial dis­tanc­ing, wash your hands ... all Man­i­to­bans have a role to limit days like this.”

Roussin also re­ported three ad­di­tional cases of COVID -19, bring­ing the to­tal in the prov­ince to 39. There was no im­me­di­ate in­for­ma­tion on whether the peo­ple had trav­elled or had caught the virus from some­one in the com­mu­nity.

Start­ing Mon­day, pub­lic gath­er­ings are to be capped at 10 peo­ple, down from the cur­rent 50.

The ban will ap­ply to church ser­vices, wed­dings and other events in­doors and out.

It will not ap­ply to health fa­cil­i­ties, home­less shel­ters and re­tail busi­nesses, although Roussin said stores will be re­quired to en­sure cus­tomers main­tain so­cial dis­tanc­ing of one to two me­tres.

The idea of forc­ing non-es­sen­tial re­tail out­lets to close is on the ta­ble, Roussin said, but is not yet be­ing en­acted.

“The trig­ger, typ­i­cally, for these type of in­ter­ven­tions is sus­tained com­mu­nity-based trans­mis­sion.”

While some Man­i­toba cases have in­volved peo­ple who got the virus from some­one else who had trav­elled — an event that could be con­sid­ered com­mu­nity trans­mis­sion — the prov­ince has not yet seen a sus­tained spread in the com­mu­nity, he added.

Schools across Man­i­toba are in the mid­dle of a three-week shut­down. Roussin has said that could be ex­tended.

The prov­ince is also set­ting up in­for­ma­tion check­points at some air­ports and in­ter­provin­cial high­way bound­ary cross­ings to in­form trav­ellers about their obli­ga­tions to self-iso­late for 14 days.

Staff will also pro­vide in­for­ma­tion on how peo­ple can get gro­ceries and other sup­plies while stay­ing at home.

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Scott Field­ing an­nounced a change to labour reg­u­la­tions that will ex­tend the pe­riod in which work­ers can be tem­po­rar­ily laid off with­out be­ing for­mally ter­mi­nated.

The Man­i­toba Fed­er­a­tion of Labour sup­ported the move, say­ing it will let work­ers be re­called more quickly and en­sure they main­tain their se­nior­ity rights.

Also Fri­day, Premier Brian Pal­lis­ter an­nounced free men­tal-health sup­port to peo­ple suf­fer­ing from anx­i­ety due to the COVID -19 pan­demic. An in­ter­net-based cog­ni­tive be­havioural ther­apy pro­gram will be of­fered to any Man­i­to­ban over the age of 15 for up to one year.

The pro­gram is be­ing pro­vided by hu­man-re­sources firm Morneau She­p­ell at an es­ti­mated cost to the prov­ince of $4.5 mil­lion.

“We are cre­at­ing ther­apy pro­grams ... and we’re mak­ing it eas­ier than ever for (peo­ple) to get con­nected to pro­fes­sion­als who can help,” Health Min­is­ter Cameron Friesen said.

Pal­lis­ter said he has bat­tled with de­pres­sion, most no­tably a few years ago when his mother died.

“I faced up to the chal­lenges with de­pres­sion at var­i­ous times in my life ... and you bot­tle it up some­times.”

The premier read from a han­detched gift his daugh­ter gave him af­ter his mother’s death, with a mes­sage about op­ti­mism.

“It’s some­thing that helped me when I needed that help, and that’s what we’re talk­ing about to­day — some­thing that’s go­ing to help you when you need the help.”

KEVIN KING/POST­MEDIA NET­WORK

Dr. Brent Roussin, Man­i­toba’s chief pub­lic health of­fi­cer, an­nounces the prov­ince’s first COVID-19 death.

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