Manitoba health officials say another person with COVID-19 has died and 65 more infections have been identified.
The news comes as Manitoba hit a key COVID-19 vaccination milestone Monday — 50 per cent of people aged 12 and up have now received two doses.
The province is also very close to the 75 per cent rate for people with at least one dose, almost one month ahead of the provincial government’s target for both numbers.
Chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said while it’s too soon to further loosen public health orders, the province is “trending towards a post-pandemic.”
“We are heading to a place where we are going to have public health recommendations but not restrictions,” he said.
“Right now we are just in the down trend of a very severe wave three here in Manitoba, so right now we still require these restrictions, but over time, that is the goal, is to move to public health recommendations rather than restrictions.”
Roussin was joined by Dr. Marcia Anderson, medical lead of the province’s pandemic response co-ordination team, at the Monday afternoon press conference, the first held since the province reported 112 new COVID-19 cases and three deaths Saturday and Sunday.
Anderson released new data that shows people of colour had exponentially higher rates of infection than white people during the third wave.
She is recommending people of colour be prioritized for vaccine access in the future and says the government should address underlying social issues such as housing and low-income levels.
Due to an improving COVID-19 situation and climbing vaccination rates, the province is no longer be sending out bulletins on weekends, so specific data was limited until Monday.
Roussin said the deaths reported over the weekend are all men from the Winnipeg Health region, one in his 60s, one in his 40s, and another in in his 80s, and all three deaths are all linked to the Alpha variant, first identified in the United Kingdom.
The lone death reported Monday is a man in his 70s from the Southern Health region, also linked to the Alpha strain, Roussin said.
Of Monday’s new cases, the largest number — 35 — were reported in the Winnipeg health region, with five in the Northern health region, five in Southern Health region, 11 in the Prairie Mountain region, and nine in the Interlake-Eastern region.
The current five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate is 6.3 per cent provincially and 6.1 per cent in Winnipeg, and provincial data shows there are 1,022 active cases.
Since March 2020, Manitoba has reported 56,482 COVID-19 cases and 1,151 deaths have been linked to the virus.
On Sunday 1,126 tests for COVID-19 were completed in Manitoba, bringing the total number of lab tests completed since early February 2020 to 837,004.
As of Monday morning officials say there were 156 Manitobans hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those in hospital as a result of the virus, 46 are in ICU, including six receiving critical care in Ontario.
The province has also recorded 72 cases of the Beta variant, which first emerged in South Africa, 208 cases of the Gamma variant, first detected in Brazil, and 275 cases of the Delta strain, first identified in India.
Since the first variant infection was identified in Manitoba in February, the province has recorded 15,598 VOC cases, 619 of remain active, according to the province’s site. The deaths of 155 Manitobans have been linked to a COVID-19 variant of concern.
The province said last week live media briefings with the chief provincial public health officer or the deputy chief provincial public health officer will only be scheduled on Mondays going forward, and live updates will be held with the vaccine implementation task force on Wednesdays.
–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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