Dr. Brent Roussin says that there have been exposures at many events within the past weeks, including at Thanksgiving and at faith-based gatherings. 

Manitoba's Chief Provincial Public Health Officer says COVID-19 case counts are trending in the wrong direction.

Dr. Brent Roussin says we have just come through a week with 831 new cases and 14 deaths in this province. He notes on that trajectory, they expect Manitoba will eclipse the 5,000 case count by the end of the week.

"Many of these cases are linked to social gatherings," says Dr. Roussin. "We've seen many of these cases linked to Thanksgiving."

Dr. Roussin says we are in a pandemic and health officials know exactly how this virus is spreading.

"We let the virus off the hook," he says.

Dr. Roussin says we have to expect to see cases, we can not avoid that.

"But what we shouldn't expect and we shouldn't accept are people who have fifty contacts," he says. "Or people going to work when they are ill, or people not being forthcoming with health care providers, this is what leads to numbers that we're looking at right now."

Dr. Roussin says an entire surgical team in the province was sent home to self-isolate for two weeks because some patients attended medical procedures without disclosing that they had been in close contact with a case.

He notes in another case, they know of COVID-19 spreading at a funeral because of a large number of people who attended.

"We've obviously been trying to discourage large gatherings indoors at events such as funerals, even though we know how difficult that can be," he says.

In another case, Dr. Roussin says an individual likely acquired COVID-19 at a faith-based large gathering, then later visited a personal care home which led to an outbreak of the virus.

"We've had people go to work and social gatherings while they are experiencing symptoms," he adds. "We've had an individual attend work for an entire week while symptomatic before being tested."

In other cases, people who are infected are hosting large gatherings in their own homes.

"We've had many people who went home or stayed home because they are ill, only to feel a little bit better the next day and then go back to school or work, only for the symptoms to return and then later exposing many people to the virus," he says. "A specific example is an individual who left work because they were ill, but then went shopping and exposed many people at many different events."

Dr. Roussin urges Manitobans to reduce the number of contacts outside of their home. He says if public health called you and you could not list all your contacts within the last week, it probably means you have had way too many contacts over that period of time.

According to Dr. Roussin, this recent surge in the case count is proof that many Manitobans have gone back to meeting in large groups.