The province reported 51 new COVID-19 cases in Manitoba over the weekend—16 on Saturday and 35 on Sunday—including a total of 32 in the Prairie Mountain Health region.
The 35 new overall cases revealed on Sunday marks the second-highest one-day jump since the start of the pandemic.
Of the 20 new PMH cases announced on Sunday, Dr. Brent Roussin, the province’s chief public health officer, announced in a rare weekend news conference that at least seven of these cases are connected to a single business in Brandon.
Although Roussin mentioned that the seven affected individuals are self-isolating, and that there was no evidence of workplace transmission, he would not name the specific business in question when asked.
However, this announcement follows a week where at least 10 workers from the Maple Leaf Foods pork processing plant in Brandon have tested positive for the virus.
And as of Sunday evening, UFCW Local 832 president Jeff Traeger told the Sun that eight additional positive cases of COVID-19 were discovered at Maple Leaf Brandon over the weekend, bringing their total amount of known cases up to 18.
“These new cases strengthen our call on Maple Leaf Brandon to close for a one-week period until all test results are in, and the situation is under control,” Traeger wrote in this email.
Over the weekend, several other businesses in the Wheat City closed their doors or significantly reduced their services due to concerns that one of their workers might have contracted COVID-19. This includes Marino’s Pizza, the McDonald’s restaurant on Victoria Avenue and the Shoppers Drug Mart also located on Victoria.
Employees from a local Walmart and a Tim Hortons restaurant on Highway 1 also tested positive for COVID-19 last week, prompting the latter establishment to shut down so it can be thoroughly sanitized.
In general, Roussin said on Sunday that this growing cluster in Brandon was approaching and may have exceeded 40 people.
Otherwise, this batch of new cases over the weekend brings Manitoba’s total number of lab-confirmed positive and probable positive cases up to 542.
Sunday’s COVID-19 data also shows that six people are currently hospitalized, with three individuals being in intensive care.
Overall, the province is now contending with 182 active cases in Manitoba, with 352 individuals having recovered from the virus.
Manitoba’s COVID-19 related death rate remains at eight.
While Roussin admits that the recent spike in new cases is discouraging, he implores Manitoba to remain vigilant and stick to the essentials of good social distancing: vigorous hand-washing, avoiding crowded indoor spaces and staying at home if you feel ill.
“Our concern has never gone away,” he said. “We’ve had to find ways to continue to articulate to Manitobans that we have to be careful. And certainly, as we see these numbers go up, we’re going to increase that messaging.”
An additional 756 laboratory tests were completed on Saturday, bringing the total number of tests completed since early February to 100,830.