Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer, leaves after speaking at a COVID-19 update at the legislature in Winnipeg on Friday, October 30, 2020. Today is the day Manitoba is to enter a self-imposed economic and social hibernation to try to bring surging COVID-19 numbers back under control. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer, leaves after speaking at a COVID-19 update at the legislature in Winnipeg on Friday, October 30, 2020. Today is the day Manitoba is to enter a self-imposed economic and social hibernation to try to bring surging COVID-19 numbers back under control. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

COVID faceoff: Manitoba hunkering down for second time to fight spread of virus

5,676 active cases Wednesday

WINNIPEG — Today is the day Manitoba goes into a self-imposed economic and social hibernation to try to bring surging COVID-19 numbers back under control.

The province has been struggling to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus since it started spiking in recent weeks after a summer lull.

Gatherings are limited to five people, but the restriction does not apply to those who live in the same household.

Churches can’t hold in-person services and non-essential stores and restaurants are limited to curbside pickup and delivery.

Bars, museums and theatres are closed and recreational activities suspended, although schools remain open.

The province reported 5,676 active cases on Wednesday, the deadliest day of the pandemic for Manitoba, with nine new deaths for a total of 123.

It’s the largest per-capita caseload of active infections in the country.

Tighter public health orders had already been brought in for some areas, notably Winnipeg, but chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said earlier this week that the targeted approach was not working.

The sharp rise in cases and, with it, a record number of hospitalizations has put the health-care system under strain. Intensive care beds, including those occupied by non-COVID-patients, are running close to capacity.

There have been outbreaks in long-term care homes and hospitals, and widespread community transmission.

“We need to flatten our COVID curve and we need to do that now,” Premier Brian Pallister said Tuesday as he announced the widespread slowdown which is to last as long as four weeks.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 12, 2020.

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