Health officials in Manitoba say two more people with COVID-19 have died and 173 new cases of the virus have been identified.
The numbers come as the province says it has been forced to immediately stop scheduling vaccine appointments after the federal government warned to expect further disruptions in the vaccine supply.
The virus’s latest victims include a woman in her 80s from the Southern Health region and a man in his 80s from the Winnipeg Health region. Both are linked to outbreaks at personal care homes.
Since March, 795 Manitobans have now died from COVID-19.
The new cases bring the province’s total number of cases reported since March to 28,260 after health officials said two previously announced cases have been removed due to a data correction.
On Thursday, as 198 new cases and five new deaths were reported, the province said it will ease some of the restrictions in southern and central areas as case numbers continue to slowly drop.
Starting Saturday, non-essential retail stores will be allowed to reopen at 25 per cent capacity. Hair salons, barbershops and some personal health services such as reflexology can restart as well.
A ban on social visits inside private homes is also being eased. Households will be allowed to designate two people who will be allowed to visit indoors. Up to five people can visit outdoors.
The changes, which will last at least three weeks, are not being made in the northern health region, where outbreaks in isolated communities have caused a spike in case numbers in recent weeks.
The north again saw the most cases Friday, with 64 new infections reported. There were also 56 new cases in the Winnipeg Health region, nine in the Southern Health region, 11 from the Prairie Mountain Health region, and 33 cases in the Interlake-Eastern Health region.
According to provincial data 3,261 COVID-19 cases remain active, but health officials have warned the number is likely inflated due to a backlog in contact tracing.
There are currently 274 people in hospital as a result of COVID-19 and 39 in intensive care as a result of the virus, health official say.
The province says 20,70 tests for COVID-19 were done Thursday, bringing the total number of lab tests completed since early February 2020 to 461,250.
The current five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate is 9.3 per cent provincially and 6,2 per cent in Winnipeg.
Further vaccine delays
Earlier in the day Friday the province said it has stopped taking new vaccination appointments at clinics in both Winnipeg and Brandon due to another supply reduction of the Pfizer vaccine.
Health officials say the federal government has told Manitoba to expect 2,340 doses instead of 5,850 doses in the first week of February.
It’s the third time in a week the federal government has told the province to expect fewer doses than health officials had originally planned for. There are no vaccine deliveries expected at all next week, the province says.
The reductions reported between Jan. 25 and Feb. 7 represent a 90 per cent decrease from what was projected last week, the province says.
So far, this means Manitoba will be receiving 32,760 fewer doses than had been expected.
Vaccination appointments that have already been booked haven’t been cancelled, but health officials are still reviewing current vaccine supplies and cancellations may be necessary, the province says.
Meanwhile efforts to vaccinate all eligible personal care home residents are continuing.
The province says by the end of this week, teams will have visited 61 personal care homes with an estimated 3,903 residents. That means roughly 90 per cent of residents have been immunized, according to the province.
Vaccination teams will head to another 62 personal care home facilities next week.
The province says it has so far received 55,650 doses of vaccine, including 40,950 doses of Pfizer vaccine (based on six doses per vial) and 14,700 doses of the Moderna vaccine.
As of Friday 23,884 doses of vaccine have been administered in Manitoba including 20,846 first doses and a total of 3,038 second doses, the province says.
–With files from The Canadian Press
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
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.
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