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Manitoba hits COVID-19 testing capacity, says case counts under-reported

The Manitoba government says near record-setting COVID-19 case counts reported Thursday are likely an under count due to a backlog in testing.

Officials announced 556 new infections Thursday, the province’s third highest one-day jump in cases ever reported, according to records kept by Global News.

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Manitoba posts 3rd highest daily COVID-19 case count on record

But in a release later in the day, the province said it expects current case counts “are an under-reporting of the virus across the province” because of a  backlog of more than 7,500 test specimens.

“The province has reached its capacity to process COVID-19 specimens at facilities in Manitoba,” the release reads.

Winnipeg COVID-19 testing sites see long lineups

Winnipeg COVID-19 testing sites see long lineups

“The province is exploring options to expand laboratory capacity to help alleviate the backlog.”

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Health officials did not hold a media briefing Thursday.

On Wednesday, Dr. Jazz Atwal, deputy chief provincial public health officer, said case counts likely exceeded the 400 cases reported that day, because some infections go unreported.

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Can I get a COVID-19 vaccine yet in Manitoba? How to book it and where to go

He said previous waves of the pandemic have shown that for every one case identified, three or four are likely being missed.

Global News and other media outlets have been reporting on long lines at Winnipeg drive-thru testing sites all week, with some people waiting hours to get a swab.

Winnipeg Police were called in to help control traffic around some testing sites Thursday, and police told Global News officers were called to reports of a dispute between two drivers at the King Edwards Street testing site Monday.

Click to play video: 'Answering your COVID-19 questions – Dec. 23, 2021'

Answering your COVID-19 questions – Dec. 23, 2021

Answering your COVID-19 questions – Dec. 23, 2021

Provincial officials called on Manitobans to be “patient and kind to others in line as well as those working at the collection sites.”

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“Long line-ups and wait times for test results need to be expected,” reads the provincial release.

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The province says the current turnaround time for test results is four days or longer.

Officials say only those experiencing COVID-19, cold or flu-like symptoms should seek testing. They say tests completed at provincial testing sites are not valid for travel purposes and those looking for a COVID-19 test for travel should seek out a private provider.

— with files from The Canadian Press

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

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Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, visit our coronavirus page.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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