Seven more Manitobans have died from COVID-19 and 130 new cases were announced in the province Tuesday.
The latest deaths include four connected to care home outbreaks:
- A man in his 80s and a woman in her 90s connected to the outbreak at River East Personal Care Home in Winnipeg.
- A man in his 90s connected to the outbreak at Holy Family Personal Care Home in Winnipeg.
- A woman in her 70s connected to the outbreak at Le Chalet de la Broquerie assisted living facility in La Broquerie.
The other deaths announced Tuesday include a woman in her 60s, a woman in her 70s and a man in his 70s, all from the Winnipeg health region, the province said in a Tuesday afternoon news release.
There have now been 695 deaths from COVID-19 in Manitoba.
The new cases announced Tuesday include 77 in the Winnipeg health region, 19 in the Northern health region, 17 in the Interlake-Eastern health region, nine in the Prairie Mountain Health region and eight cases in the Southern Health region.
New case counts are dropping and hospitalization numbers have plateaued, Manitoba’s acting deputy chief public health officer says.
“There’s more than one indicator showing that we are headed in the right direction,” said Dr. Jazz Atwal during a COVID-19 briefing with reporters on Tuesday.
A total of 339 people are in hospital with COVID-19, including 96 who are no longer considered infectious but still need care. Of the 40 people in intensive care with COVID-19, 35 are still infectious.
The provincewide five-day test positivity rate —a rolling average of the number of tests that come back positive — is 10.7 per cent. The five-day test positivity rate in Winnipeg is 11.5 per cent.
“We still need to continue to have those numbers come down. We have to remember that the hospitalizations don’t peak and correlate with cases until 10 to 14 days after a case develops,” Atwal said, adding that there was less testing done over the holidays.
Another 1,264 COVID-19 tests were completed in Manitoba Monday, bringing the total since early February to 428,753.
The province is currently reporting 4,427 known active COVID-19 cases in Manitoba, but health officials have previously said that number may be inflated due to backlogs in data processing.
Outbreak declared at HSC unit
A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared at the WRS3 unit at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg, the province’s news release said. A Shared Health spokesperson said WRS3 is a medicine unit.
That unit has been moved to the red, or critical, level of Manitoba’s pandemic response system, the province’s news release says.
Meanwhile, outbreaks have been declared over at Actionmarguerite St. Boniface, Actionmarguerite St. Joseph and Dakota House, all in Winnipeg.
Outbreaks have also been declared over at Morris General Hospital, the rehabilitation and surgery unit at Boundary Trails Health Centre near Winkler, and the Northern Lights Manor in Flin Flon.
Vaccination criteria expanded again
The province also announced Tuesday that it has opened immunization to more health-care workers.
Manitoba health-care workers who work directly with patients in a designated COVID-19 hospital ward, correctional facility, or a laboratory handling COVID-19 specimens can now arrange immunization appointments, regardless of age.
Those who work in critical care units can also arrange immunization, with no age restrictions.
Health-care workers who work with patients at acute and long-term care facilities, and were born after Dec. 30, 1975, can also get the vaccine.
Manitoba has now received 7,300 doses of the Moderna vaccine — the second to be approved for use in Canada, following approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Of those, 5,300 Moderna doses are earmarked for First Nations in the province, the provincial government said in a Tuesday vaccination update.
Nearly half of the currently reported active COVID-19 cases in Manitoba are now linked to First Nations people, according to the latest bulletin from the Manitoba First Nations COVID-19 pandemic response co-ordination team.
There are 2,174 known active COVID-19 cases linked to First Nations members — 1,471 on-reserve, 703 off-reserve, the bulletin said.
First Nations are deciding how to roll out the vaccine in their communities, Atwal said.
Distribution ‘a challenge’: premier
During a news conference earlier Tuesday, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said figuring out the logistics of getting vaccine doses to northern and remote communities has caused delay.
“It’s a challenge,” said Pallister. “We want to get the vaccines out, but it’s not the same delivering them to northern Manitoba as it is to Scarborough or Etobicoke or a suburb of Montreal. It’s very different.”
In addition to the 5,300 Moderna doses going to First Nations, 2,000 doses will be used to launch a COVID-19 immunization campaign at personal care homes next week, the vaccine bulletin said.
More information on both programs is expected to be released Wednesday, according to Atwal and Pallister.
Atwal said that the amount of vaccine lost to wastage is currently less than might be expected.
Wastage can happen in a number of ways, such as accidentally dropping a vial on the floor, he said, adding five per cent wastage should be expected.
While some doses have been wasted in Manitoba since vaccinations began last month, “it’s a fraction of that five per cent mark,” he said.
“Obviously, we don’t want to waste anything. But it’s just the nature of a program like this — or any vaccine program that’s ever happened — that there is going to be some doses that, for whatever reason … weren’t a good dose, or there was something wrong with the dose, and would be classified as a wastage.”