Fewer active COVID-19 cases in Manitoba, first case found in school

WINNIPEG — A student in Manitoba has tested positive for COVID-19 for the first time since schools reopened, but other students and staff do not have to self-isolate, the province's chief public health officer said Thursday.

"This individual did everything that they were supposed to do and that resulted in no close contacts being identified in this area," said Dr. Brent Roussin.

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The unidentified Grade 7 student at Churchill High School in Winnipeg had been tested for COVID-19 before the first day of school Tuesday, even though they had no symptoms, Roussin said.

When the student's test result came back positive early Tuesday afternoon, the student left school, Roussin added.

The school is being cleaned but classes continue. Other students are being told to self-monitor for symptoms but are not required to self-isolate.

The Winnipeg School Division said the student wore a mask while in school and maintained physical distancing the entire time. The division referred further questions to the provincial government.

Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen has repeatedly warned that COVID-19 will pop up in schools, as it has in other provinces, because it is circulating in society. The key, he has said, is to find and isolate cases to reduce the chance of the virus spreading.

Roussin would not answer questions about why the student was tested for COVID-19 without displaying symptoms, citing health privacy laws. He would only say the student is not a close contact of a previous COVID-19 case.

"They did not attend testing because they were a contact to a known case," Roussin said.

"They weren't advised to go for testing. They weren't advised to self-isolate."

With the positive test result, the student is now self-isolating and household contacts would be doing the same, Roussin said.

The reopening of schools this week comes as Manitoba's COVID-19 numbers appear to have started dropping from a spike in July and August.

Health officials reported 15 new cases Thursday. But with more people recovering, the number of active cases dropped to 360 from more than 400 earlier this week.

The province also announced it is ending two provisions aimed at helping some people financially during the pandemic.

A temporary ban that prevents landlords from raising rents and evicting tenants for non-payment of rent, launched in March and already extended twice, will not be renewed again after Oct. 1.

A six-month suspension of provincial student loan repayments, announced in April, will not be extended beyond its Sept. 30 end date.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 10, 2020

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