Despite reopenings, the province continues to be concerned about gathering reliable COVID-19 exposure data in places of worship.
Well before Manitoba's circuit breaker, places of worship were able to hold in-person gatherings. Despite the larger gathering sizes, very few notices of public exposure to COVID-19 were shared; only two between late August until the province-wide closures. While on the surface this shows places of worship having fewer exposures despite sites or indoor, enclosed, close contact spaces, the province suspects this is not the case.
"Information on possible exposures related to places of worship is not always consistently provided, which makes it difficult to produce reliable data," a spokesperson for the province says. "In addition, a place of worship may be listed as a possible exposure site, but public health may not be able to specifically confirm that this was where a person contracted COVID-19, which makes the data even more unreliable."
The province suspects other issues when it comes to providing accurate information when public health investigates COVID-19 cases.
"We’ve also seen what we suspect is underreporting of cases and contacts related to places of worship, which again makes it difficult to produce reliable data."
The province is connecting the risk of public exposure at places of worship with age, as most places of worship have senior attendees present.
"I’ll also note that one out of every five people who are over the age of 70 died if they had COVID-19, including those who were previously healthy. This is why we continue to encourage Manitobans, particularly older Manitobans, to stay home unless going out for essentials."