Manitoba makes schools in Steinbach region hit by COVID-19 go online only

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WINNIPEG - The Manitoba government is closing schools in an area southeast of Winnipeg where COVID-19 numbers have spiked.

The Hanover School Division, the largest rural division in the province, will move to remote learning on Tuesday.

“This action is taken as a preventive safety measure in response to the increased test positivity rate in Steinbach and the RM (Rural Municipality) of Hanover,” said an announcement on the division’s website Friday night.

In the division’s largest community, Steinbach, 40 per cent of people tested over the last 10 days have COVID-19. The city of 16,000 is seeing 30 to 40 positive test results each day.

“When you’re looking at something like 40 per cent, we just know this is a very concerning number and we need things to change in that area right now,” Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer, said earlier in the day.

Steinbach was the site of an anti-mask rally last weekend, although many attendees came from other communities. Roussin said there was no direct link between the event and the rising numbers.

The numbers in the region have been rising for weeks, he added. Last Friday, emergency room nurses at the Steinbach hospital reported they had to triage patients in their cars because there was no room inside.

There was other evidence of the growing pandemic in Manitoba Friday. Roussin said a baby was in hospital with COVID-19. There were nine new deaths, including a man in his ‘20s from Winnipeg — the youngest person to die of the illness in the province to date.