Manitoba no longer issuing COVID-19 updates on weekends

Manitobans won’t be getting updates on how many new cases of COVID-19 there are in the province on weekends anymore.

The change is part of a new schedule that’s expected to continue through the end of August, the province said in a media notice on Friday.

But that schedule is subject to change as real-time information about cases and vaccination rates emerges, or if there’s a fourth wave of COVID-19 in the fall, the province said.

The shift means Manitoba’s online COVID-19 case and vaccination dashboards will only be updated on weekdays, starting July 31.

Information including test positivity rates, and deaths and hospitalizations due to COVID-19 will also now only come on weekdays.

Previously, coronavirus news releases were cut down to weekdays only, but online information was still updated on Saturdays and Sundays.

The change comes as more Manitobans get vaccinated against COVID-19 — and as the province inches closer to becoming a “post-pandemic Manitoba,” Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said this week.

“This is going to be a Manitoba with public health guidelines rather than public health restrictions. This Manitoba will not be reporting cases daily of COVID-19, so we need to start adjusting and getting used to not hearing daily case counts on COVID-19,” Roussin said at a news conference on July 26.

“We know COVID-19 is going to still be with us in a post-pandemic Manitoba, but things like daily reports of test positivity [rates], case counts, are just something that won’t be part of a post-pandemic Manitoba.”

As of Friday, 69.3 per cent of eligible Manitobans were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 while 79.5 per cent had at least one dose, the province’s online vaccine dashboard said.

The latest change also means that because of this Monday’s Terry Fox Day holiday, the province won’t put out any kind of COVID-19 update until Tuesday.

Roussin and Premier Brian Pallister are also set to give an update at an 11 a.m. news conference that day on Manitoba’s next set of relaxed pandemic rules.

Media bulletins on COVID-19 have also been scaled back again, and will now only be issued on Mondays and Thursdays.

The Thursday bulletin will also include the province’s weekly public health order enforcement update, the province said.

Meanwhile, media bulletins with updates on the vaccination campaign in the province will only come out on Mondays and Wednesdays.

There will only be one regularly scheduled media briefing with health officials per week, which will happen on Mondays.

Those updates from officials will no longer be live streamed from the government newsroom — instead, they’ll take place in a virtual meeting with reporters.

The upcoming Terry Fox Day holiday will also push the usual Monday media bulletin and briefing to Tuesday at 12:30 p.m., the province said.

Communications Services Manitoba is also consulting the legislature press gallery on a plan to eventually bring reporters back for in-person for updates, pending future changes to public health orders, the province said.