18 COVID-19 deaths, 280 new cases announced in Manitoba today

Manitoba announced 280 new COVID-19 cases today and 18 more deaths, making it the second deadliest day on record during the pandemic.

The deaths include a man in his 40s and two women in their 50s from the Winnipeg region.

That puts the province’s death toll since the start of the pandemic at 438.

As of today, health officials say 300 people are currently in the hospital with the virus, down 11 from Tuesday. Thirty eight of the patients are in intensive care.

More to come

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Manitoba’s premier and chief public health officer are set to give an update on COVID-19 on Wednesday afternoon, hours after Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine got Health Canada’s stamp of approval.

They are also expected to reveal more details about how COVID-19 vaccines will be distributed in Manitoba. 

CBC News will live stream the news conference with Brian Pallister and Dr. Brent Roussin here at 12:30 p.m.

Health Canada made its announcement earlier Wednesday, after scientists finished a two-month review of the company’s clinical trial data.

Pallister and Roussin will speak one day after they announced Manitoba’s public health orders will be extended until Jan. 8, with some exceptions.

Under those orders, holiday gatherings will be barred in Manitoba this year, though the province added some exceptions to its updated public health order — including allowing drive-in religious services.

Non-essential items will still not be allowed to be sold in-person at stores that remain open, the officials said, though some items (like school supplies) will be added to the province’s list of essentials.

Holiday-themed items, including Christmas decorations, will also be available through in-store shopping, and thrift stores will be allowed to open to sell all items under the revised orders.

Pallister said on Tuesday while the original public health orders, which took effect last month, have been effective, restrictions are still needed.

Roussin reported another 245 COVID-19 cases and 13 deaths linked to the illness on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Shamattawa First Nation, where COVID-19 cases have surged in recent weeks, called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for help to move its elders out of the fly-in Manitoba community.

As of Tuesday, there were 264 confirmed cases in the community of roughly 1,300 people, the First Nation’s leadership said.