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Manitoba COVID-19 vaccine eligibility opens to 65 and older, First Nations 45 and over

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Manitobans 65 and over and First Nations 45 and over are now eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Appointments for the new age group are currently available at vaccination super sites in Winnipeg and Morden, but will be expanded to further sites in the coming days, health officials say.

Read more: Manitoba health officials announce 7 COVID-19 deaths Sunday, 90 new cases

The vaccination news comes as health officials reported another 66 new cases of the virus and one additional death Monday.

Manitoba’s chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin said the virus’s latest reported victim, a man in his 50s from the Winnipeg, actually died in December.

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Like four deaths reported Sunday — which actually happened between November 2020 and February 2021 — Roussin said the man’s death is being reported now following “case reviews and notification from acute care providers” late last week.

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“These reviews will take place from time to time and our data is updated regularly,” Roussin said.

Read more: Manitoba expands COVID-19 vaccine eligibility, announces 87 new cases Saturday

Since last March, 928 Manitobans with COVID-19 have died and the province has recorded 33,418 cases of the virus.

Monday’s new cases include 45 from the Winnipeg Health region, four in the Southern Health region, and 17 in the Northern Health region. No new cases were reported Monday in both the Interlake-Eastern Health region and the Prairie Mountain Health region.

Health data shows there are currently 1,205 active cases of COVID-19 across Manitoba, and 31,285 people have recovered from the virus.

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Laboratory testing numbers show 1,533 tests were completed Sunday, bringing the total number of lab tests completed since early February 2020 to 564,735.

The current five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate is 5.2 per cent provincially and 3.7 per cent in Winnipeg.

Read more: Manitoba tests new vaccination delivery model at Morden super site: Pallister

There are now 138 people in hospital as a result of novel coronavirus and 25 patients in ICU connected to the virus, according to provincial data.

Meanwhile, a previously declared outbreak at St. Boniface Hospital unit E5 in Winnipeg has ended, Roussin said.

Variants of concern linked to Winnipeg schools

Roussin said a new case of the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant of concern, first identified in the United Kingdom, has been confirmed in Manitoba, this time in the Prairie Mountain Health region.  He said the patient has since recovered.

Roussin noted that when the numbers are released daily, cases that are “variants of concern” are not included in the new cases totals announced every day.

Read more: Rate of COVID-19 variant spread ‘very concerning’ as cases near 3,000

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That’s because it takes a few days for laboratories to genetically sequence the virus, health officials have said, so variant cases may be days or even weeks old.

Manitoba has now reported 77 cases of variants of concern, including 63 of the B.1.1.7 variant, and 14 of the B.1.351 variant, a strain first identified in South Africa.

Roussin said four of the cases of variants of concern have been linked to schools, including St. Paul’s High School, Our Lady of Victory, Highbury School, and École Rivière-Rouge, all in Winnipeg.

He said all of the affected cases are currently isolating and classes and other close contacts are quarantining.

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On Friday health officials announced variants of concern had been linked to three other Manitoba schools.

Read more: Three Manitoba schools see COVID-19 variant cases of concern, says province

Those schools include OV Jewitt Community School in Winnipeg, Ecole Tache in Winnipeg, and Pine Ridge Elementary in Winkler.

Starting March 23 the province is opening up eligibility for rapid testing at the Fast Pass site at 1066 Nairn Ave. in Winnipeg to:

  • all Manitoba teachers, educational support staff and other staff working in schools and directly with students; and
  • Manitoba staff working in licensed centre-based child-care facilities and child-care providers or individuals working in licensed home-based facilities.

Further information on current outbreaks is available on the province’s website, and up-to-date details of possible exposures can be found online.

–With files from Elisha Dacey

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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.

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

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