COVID-19 pandemic in Manitoba
|COVID-19 pandemic in Manitoba|
|First outbreak||Wuhan, Hubei, China|
|Arrival date||March 12, 2020|
(8 months, 1 week and 5 days)
The COVID-19 pandemic in Manitoba is a viral pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a novel infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Manitoba ranks at fifth in the provinces and territories in terms of cases during the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada. As of November 1, 2020[update], Manitoba has reported 6,034 cases, with the first three reported on March 12. There have been 2,704 recoveries, 75 deaths and 259,752 tests completed. All of Winnipeg's cases were identified after March 12.
Manitoba's rate of testing was increased to more than 500 tests a day on March 14. By May, the province had the capacity to perform up to 1000 tests per day, but had averaged only 530 tests per day for the first two weeks of the month, so on May 14, 2020, Manitoba lowered the testing criteria to include anyone showing any symptoms of cold or flu. By August, the province expected a testing capacity of 2500 per day.
Manitoba announced 124 new cases on October 13, 60 of which were in nine of the province's sixty-three First Nations. That same day, the province confirmed that Little Grand Rapids First Nation, which had over 30 cases, was in lockdown.
In October 2020, the predicted second wave of COVID-19 surged in Manitoba. 55 deaths were reported within a month, and active cases surged by more than 1000 in 3 days. On October 30, 2020, a record 480 cases was announced in Manitoba. In response to an increasing caseload and a significant strain on the healthcare system (with ICUs at 96% capacity), the situation in Winnipeg and Winnipeg Metropolitan Region was raised to "Red" or "Critical" on the Pandemic Response System. As of November 2, 2020, all bars, restaurants, movie theatres, concert halls and sports facilities must close. Gyms must operate at 25% capacity and masks are required whilst exercising. Retail locations must operate at 25% capacity or a maximum of 5, whichever is higher. Visitations in hospitals are suspended except for paediatric patients, those in end of life care and those in labour. Grocery stores and pharmacies are allowed to operate at 50% capacity. All remaining regions of the province were raised to "Orange" or "Restricted" on the Pandemic Response System.
The first three cases were reported on March 12. All of Winnipeg's cases were identified after March 12. In Manitoba's first case, the person had returned to Winnipeg from the Philippines, and self-isolated at home. Officials initially announced the first probable case that could not be linked to travel or contact with known patients on March 18, but the case was later determined to be a false positive. The province later confirmed on April 1 that they had seen evidence of community spread in Winnipeg.
On April 2, officials announced that a worker at a personal care home in Gimli had tested positive, and that nine residents were showing symptoms of respiratory illness, but later confirmed on April 5 that the worker's case was a false positive.
On March 20, there was an incident at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg that exposed numerous employees to the virus, including nurses, doctors, therapists, health care aides, and security guards. By April 3, approximately 100 employees had been required to isolate themselves. Following the event, four nurses at the HSC had tested positive for COVID-19, as well as health care workers at Saint Boniface Hospital and Grace Hospital in Winnipeg, a hospital in Selkirk, and a personal care home in the St. Vital area of Winnipeg.
Manitoba reached 100 known cases on March 31, and 200 cases on April 5. The province reported its first death from COVID-19 on March 27. The first two recoveries were reported on March 29.
On April 16, the province stated that about 56% of the 250 known cases were directly linked to travel.
The number of daily new cases diminished through mid-April, and on April 17, the province announced that the number of known recoveries from COVID-19 had overtaken the number of known cases in Manitoba.
In May, the number of new cases continued to decline, with 13 reported in the first 27 days of the month, and only 6 new cases reported after May 12. On May 23, the province announced that there were no COVID-19 patients remaining in the province's hospitals.
On July 28, the province reported its first death from the virus since May 5, two months earlier.
On August 5, an employee of a Maple Leaf Foods facility in Brandon was reported to have tested positive for COVID-19. The next day, the province announced its second-largest increase in daily new cases since the pandemic began, with a cluster of 18 cases being connected to the facility, although transmission was reported to not be occurring within the facility itself. This cluster grew to 64 cases on August 8, which the province announced had developed into community spread within Brandon. By August 12, Manitoba's active case count surpassed 200 for the first time since the pandemic began.
In mid-September, testing capacity in Winnipeg was exhausted for two consecutive days amid a growth in community transmission. Multiple cohorts at the John Pritchard School were also quarantined and switched to remote classes amid cases involving students and staff.
By late-September, a major surge had emerged in Winnipeg. The area was placed under an Orange alert on September 28, restricting the size of gatherings and mandating masks within indoor public spaces; on October 13, the province experienced a triple-digit gain in new cases for the first time, at 124, with 95 of them being within the Winnipeg Health Region. This was surpassed the next day with 146 new cases.
On October 19, new restrictions were instituted in Winnipeg for 14 days on top of the existing Code Orange health restrictions. All gatherings are limited to five people. Retail establishments, restaurants, libraries, galleries, and museums are restricted to 50% capacity, while gyms, libraries, galleries, and museums must also take contact tracing logs. Sports venues are limited to 25% capacity, and bars, gaming establishments, and live entertainment facilities were ordered closed.
On October 30, 2020, after announcing a total of 480 new cases, it was announced that Winnipeg will be placed under Code Red, and the remainder of the province under Code Orange, effective November 3, for at least 14 days. Under Code Red, dine-in bars and restaurants, cinemas, and concert halls are ordered closed. Retail establishments were capped at 25% capacity, and faith-based gatherings were capped at 15% capacity or 100 people (whichever is lower). Most elective and non-urgent medical procedures were suspended. The mask mandate extended to gyms while exercising, The Code Orange restrictions elsewhere mirror the restrictions that had been in place in Winnipeg since October 19.
On November 9, Code Red was declared for the Southern health region. Chief Medical Health Officer Brent Roussin stated that a circuit breaker was being considered due to widespread community transmission province-wide, with the province having reported over 2,000 cases in the past week alone.  On November 10, Code Red was declared for the entire province effective November 12, prohibiting any social, religious, or cultural gathering, and ordering the closure of all non-critical businesses (with critical businesses restricted to 25% capacity), dine-in bars and restaurants (including casinos and video lottery), cinemas, concert halls, gyms, sports and recreation facilities, and personal care services. K-12 schools have remained open, with Roussin arguing that the province was "not seeing a lot of transmission within schools."
On November 20, additional restrictions were added to the Code Red orders. Visitors at homes are prohibited unless they are providing a critical service or are otherwise covered by an exception, while critical retailers may only admit a maximum of 250 customers at once, and are prohibited from displaying or selling non-critical goods to in-store customers.
Provincial government response
On March 20, a provincial state of emergency was declared under the Emergency Measures Act by Premier Brian Pallister, effective for 30 days. The order restricted public gatherings to no more than 50 people, required retail stores and public transit to enforce social distancing, limited hospitality businesses and theatres to 50 people or half their normal capacity, whichever was less, and shut down all fitness facilities. Breaches of the order could trigger fines of up to $50,000 or six months imprisonment. On March 30, further directives under the Public Health Act came into effect, which reduced the maximum size of public gatherings to 10 people, and required retail businesses to ensure one to two metres of separation between customers.
On April 1, the province ordered the closure of all non-critical businesses to the public, including bars, hair salons, massage clinics, and dine-in restaurants (delivery and take-out would still be allowed, with some restaurants having already done so voluntarily). The order would last for at least 14 days, but could be extended. On April 3, Pallister appealed to people refusing to comply with social distancing recommendations, calling them "thoughtless and stupid" during a press conference.
As of April 9, health orders issued pursuant to the state of emergency became enforceable under provincial law, starting at $486 for individuals and $2,542 for businesses. In Winnipeg, by-law officers were authorized to issue fines of up to $1,000 to those violating the orders in municipal parks, and Winnipeg mayor Brian Bowman warned that a penalty of up to six months in jail would be possible in extreme circumstances. On April 13, the province extended the closure on non-essential businesses by an additional two weeks, and stated that distancing measures would likely continue into the summer.
On April 15, an emergency sitting of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba was held, in which legislation was passed that granted province's chief public health officer the power to restrict travel within Manitoba and to order individuals to take precautionary measures, such as self-isolation. It also gave the cabinet the authority to fix prices for essential goods, and to establish penalties for price gouging.
On April 20, Pallister announced a 30-day extension of the province's state of emergency, while also setting a goal for Manitoba to be the first Canadian province to reopen its economy.
By March 14, the province was testing 500 patients per-day. All patients in Manitoba's intensive care units, as well as those admitted to a hospital for respiratory illnesses, have also been tested.
On March 21, a drive-through testing centre opened in Winnipeg, at a site close to the Victoria General Hospital. As with walk-in testing centres, a referral is necessary to use the drive-through testing centre. As of March 21, 2020, there were four other walk-in test centres in Winnipeg, as well as test centres in Brandon, Thompson, Selkirk, Flin Flon, Steinbach and The Pas.
On April 16, testing became available by-request for essential workers. The province also established an online cognitive behavioural therapy program for those suffering from anxiety as a result of the pandemic. On April 28, testing became available to any resident showing symptoms. On May 4, the province began to increase its testing of asymptomatic patients.
Travel advisories and restrictions
On March 27, informational checkpoints were established at the Ontario and Saskatchewan borders on the Trans-Canada Highway, and on the Saskatchewan border on highways 16, 5, and 2. Vehicles entering Manitoba would be briefly stopped, and their drivers provided with an informational pamphlet on health risks and international travel restrictions.
On April 17, it was announced that anyone travelling to Manitoba from outside of the province (including interprovincial travel) would be required by law to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival, although a 50-kilometre "buffer zone" exists in Northwestern Ontario. In order to protect vulnerable and remote northern communities, the province also restricted non-essential travel across the 53rd parallel. In Phase 2, these restrictions were softened to allow "direct" travel to sites such as campgrounds in the region.
The self-isolation requirement for interprovincial travel was removed in Phase 3 for those travelling into Manitoba from Western Canada, Northern Canada, or Ontario west of Terrace Bay. Interprovincial travel from outside of these regions will also be exempted for those participating in a film production or professional sporting event, provided that 14 days of self-isolation are completed before travel, and that proper hygiene is practised whilst travelling to Manitoba.
Lifting of restrictions
On May 4, Manitoba began the first phase of lifting its economic restrictions.
|Phase||Effective date||Restrictions eased|
|1||May 4, 2020||
|2||June 1, 2020||
|3||June 21, 2020||
|4||July 25, 2020||
Restart MB Pandemic Response System
On August 19, 2020 the Manitoba Government introduced a Pandemic Response System. The goal of this new system is to provide Manitobans with accurate information on the state of the pandemic in various regions, communities and sectors. The system is composed of four different colour coded levels:
- Green: Limited Risk - "The spread of COVID-19 is broadly contained and a vaccine and/or effective treatment for COVID-19 is available." 
- Yellow: Caution - "Community transmission of COVID-19 is at low levels."
- Orange: Restricted - "Community transmission of COVID-19 is occurring."
- Red: Critical - "Community spread of COVID-19 is not contained and/or there are significant strains on our health care system."
The provincial response level is currently at Yellow ("Caution") and an additional restriction of Red ("Critical") is in place in the Southern Health - Santé Sud region due to a declared outbreak at Bethesda Place.
This response level is set based on a variety of indicators including,
- Test positivity levels 
- Case number growth rates 
- Number of days since positive cases are linked to further transmission 
- Contact tracing and the degree to which cases are contained in clusters 
- Health system capacity to deal with cases requiring hospitalization or intensive care 
Based on the restriction levels in various parts of the province, the government will be able to implement COVID-19 restrictions that target specific regions, communities and sectors, in an attempt to prevent province wide shutdowns and restrictions.
On August 20, 2020, the Prairie Mountain Health Region became the first region to move to Orange ("Restricted"), due to increasing community transmission. Face masks became mandatory in public places, and gathering sizes were restricted to 10.
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