Manitoba ramps up COVID-19 testing, training and other resources

Red Cross resources to be included

The Manitoba government says additional testing will be made available in Brandon, but details are not available today.

Winnipeg is adding test sites and micro courses will be available regarding test procedures.

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Manitoba has introduced a number of significant improvements to enhance access to COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, Premier Brian Pallister said on Oct. 26. “Our government has rapidly increased access to COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, to ensure Manitobans can safely get a test when they do, to protect themselves, their loved ones and their community,” said Pallister.

A new micro-credential offered at Red River College to train health-care providers on how to safely perform a nasal swab on adults and children to collect samples to test for the virus has already see its first graduates. Due to significant uptake, the college is expanding the course to train additional providers and will soon be offering training opportunities to health-care professionals in specific areas of rural Manitoba.

Officials have also been working with Doctors Manitoba and community-based doctors’ offices to offer COVID-19 testing. To date, the Dakota Medical Centre at 17-845 Dakota St. in Winnipeg has begun offering testing and has already expanded its hours. Testing at additional locations will become available in the coming days, the minister added.

Winnipeg’s new site is: 1066 Nairn Ave. is operating from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily and is providing more than 350 tests per day, taking the pressure off other sites around the city.

Additional testing sites are expected to open in the coming weeks, including a drive-thru site at 125 King Edward St. that is expected to open on Oct. 31. Sites are being planned at the University of Manitoba and Assiniboia Downs to provide greater access for Manitobans. More details will be shared when the sites are ready to provide services.

Unless recommended by public health officials, only individuals experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should go for testing.

The online assessment tool can be found at https://sharedhealthmb.ca/covid19/screening-tool/ and COVID-19 symptoms can be found at www.gov.mb.ca/covid19/updates/about.html#collapse4.

A new appointment-booking system introduced in Winnipeg early last week has been expanded to several sites in rural and northern Manitoba, effective today. People can call 1-855-268-4318 (toll-free) or go online to make appointments to get a COVID-19 test at www.manitoba.ca/covid19/updates/testing.html#appointment.

Since Oct. 20, more than 2,894 appointments have been made by phone and 1,350 online in Winnipeg. Most Manitobans are able to make same-day or next-day appointments within two minutes of calling.

The province has already redeployed staff to prioritize case investigations, contact tracing and notification and the daily follow-up of cases and contacts during their self-isolation. A contract has also been signed with the Canadian Red Cross to increase capacity to protect and support Manitobans and reduce transmission of the virus. Staff at the Canadian Red Cross began this work on Friday supporting the daily follow-up of cases and contacts during their self-isolation, and their services will be expanded in the next few weeks.

Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living has also launched a campaign for this year’s flu vaccination. The tag line, ‘Add a Layer This Fall’, encourages Manitobans to add an extra layer of protection as the province prepares to deal with the flu season and COVID-19 at the same time.

Manitoba has been shipping vaccines to providers and is expected to receive the full provincial vaccine allotment over the next several weeks, barring any external supply or delivery disruptions. As of Oct. 23, more than 31 per cent more vaccine has been shipped to providers than at this time last year.

“Now more than ever, it is crucial that Manitobans get their flu shot,” said the premier. “We are reminding Manitobans to make plans to get their flu shot from their pharmacist or doctor as soon as possible, to protect yourself and those you love.”

The provincial government has also requested authority from the Manitoba legislature to spend an additional half-a-billion dollars on its COVID-19 response to protect Manitobans. The supplementary appropriation would provide government departments the additional spending authority for $577 million in the 2020-21 fiscal year.

For up-to-date information on COVID-19 in Manitoba, visit www.manitoba.ca/COVID19.

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