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Half of new cases of COVID-19 linked to bars, restaurants: Manitoba’s top doctor

The province announced 37 new cases Sept. 24

September 25, 2020  The Canadian Press

WINNIPEG — Manitoba’s chief public health officer is warning of a trend in Winnipeg as half of people who have tested for COVID-19 in recent weeks had visited bars, pubs or restaurants.

“We’ve had a number of cases that have visited more than one bar in a single evening and reports are that (there was) crowding and many people in attendance,” Dr. Brent Roussin said Sept. 24.

“We have cases that have attended more than one bar in the evening while symptomatic, one of which had more than 36 contacts.”

Roussin said people need to take more precautions around how they are associating with others as case numbers continue to surge in Winnipeg.

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The province announced 37 new cases Sept. 24, 30 of which were in the capital city.

There was also one more death, a woman in her 90s who was in a personal care home, bringing the total to 19.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cautioned against people gathering for Thanksgiving during a public address on Wednesday. The country has seen an average of more than 1,100 new cases a day this past week compared with about 380 a day in mid-August.

Manitoba’s top doctor echoed those concerns saying any large family gatherings should be reconsidered as the province’s trajectory heads in the wrong direction.

Many of the new cases are young adults in their 20s. Roussin described gatherings in bars and restaurants, as well as instances where people on sports teams maintained distance on the field, but then got together in large groups afterward.

Roussin said he understands it’s difficult to constantly follow public health recommendations, but the consequences of not doing so can be serious.

“No one’s risk is truly their own,” he said. “No one can just single-handedly decide they are willing to accept a higher risk because you are not accepting that higher risk on your own behalf. You are accepting that higher risk on many Manitobans and anyone you are around.”

Manitoba’s health officials are monitoring the growing numbers in Winnipeg and Roussin said bringing back restrictions is on the table.

He encouraged people to wear masks in enclosed indoor public spaces, wash their hands, social distance and stay home when they are sick.

There have been 1,711 positive cases in Manitoba, 449 are active. Eleven people are hospitalized, six are in the intensive care unit.

By Kelly Geraldine Malone