Dr. Brent Roussin is telling Manitobans if COVID-19 cases do not go down, more restrictions will be coming very soon.

Manitoba's Chief Public Health Officer says the province is more seeing people present with mild COVID-19 symptoms, but are delaying COVID-19 testing. He says to have a "high suspicion" of COVID-19 and to isolate and get tested when presenting any symptoms, mild or otherwise.

"If we do not act now we will be right into stricter restrictions very soon," Roussin says.

Over the next several days the doctor and his team will be deciding what restrictions could be coming as Manitoba enters the third wave.

In a Monday press conference, Roussin hinted at lowering gathering-sized and adding more mask requirements.

"We have continued to look at a number of things with our restrictions and again, this could include moving back to tighter restrictions on private gatherings, we could be looking at that outdoor mask mandate and really looking at anywhere people gather indoors for prolonged periods of time."

Roussin says he does not have any details about potential business or school restrictions or changes, saying potential restrictions will be announced later this week.

Overall, there has been an increase in contacts. He says things such as playdates and sleepovers have been driving cases, particularly with children aged 10-19 being the quickest growing group of COVID-19 cases from gatherings outside of school. In the meantime, the doctor is watching case numbers.

"It is very likely that we are going to need to change the Public Health Orders again to ensure that we have all Manitobans on board."

Roussin says the least-restrictive means necessary will be taken, something that is key to public health.

"It is a very important aspect of public health decision-making, of public health ethics, and it is actually in the public health act," Roussin says. "These restrictions have large impacts... but we are always looking at that balance."

While the next couple of days of tightly following the orders will be unlikely to change the province's course and pending health order changes, Roussin says buy-in overall is key to preventing the spread of the virus, and the health orders are a tool to enforce protective measures.

"We need people to follow those fundamentals. We need people to limit the number of contacts they have outside their household," Roussin says.

With this in mind, Roussin says they are looking at the possibility of making the new Public Health Orders regional, but travel will be an issue to consider.

"Our focus is to try to limit the transmission overall and sometimes that is best suited with just province-wide restrictions but we will definitely look at that regional approach and do so with every reiteration." 

Roussin wants to remind Manitobans that this is not a "return to normal" and following the fundamentals will be important to keeping cases lowered.