Dr. Brent Roussin is responding to common COVID-19 questions such as "is it the flu?" and "if masks work, why are there more cases?"

The chief medical officer says COVID-19 is not the flu and is more lethal than influenza or a cold. "We see that COVID has had many more severe outcomes than the flu."

To date, 61 people have died from COVID-19 in Manitoba. He cautions Manitobans to take the pandemic seriously. 

While there are similar symptoms, COVID-19 comes from its own virus, separate from the strains of influenza seen in Manitoba. Roussin says the flu in itself can be dangerous.

"The flu is a very dangerous virus. We get it every year, we have a pandemic every year, and certainly, promote the flu shot."

Roussin is asking Manitobans to get their flu shots to help prevent them from contracting the flu, reducing the strain on the healthcare system. As of Wednesday morning, ICU capacity is at 92 per cent.

"We need to protect ourselves from the things that we can."

If masks work, why are numbers going up?

Another common question asked is why the number of cases is increasing in areas where masks are mandatory.

"There is a couple of things to that. You cannot judge the effectiveness just based on these numbers," Roussin says. "The simple epidemiology would say that if we did not have that control maybe the numbers could be twice what they are now."

Roussin says masks in itself are not the only measure needed to stop the spread of COVID-19.

"We see transmission in households where people won't be wearing masks."

Roussin emphasizes that masks are one more tool for people in the COVID-19 toolbox.

"We have never said that masks, in itself, is the approach that we need. We always said they were an additional measure to be taken."

The doctor says it is not the only measure needed to be followed.

He says cases are increasing due to prolonged close contact between people.

"No measure by itself will be 100 per cent but we have (masks) as a measure and we should continue to wear masks."

Roussin says Manitobans will need to consistently follow all public health recommendations such as handwashing and staying home when ill to see a difference in COVID-19 cases.