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208 new COVID-19 cases, 12 more deaths in Manitoba on Thursday –



There are 208 new COVID-19 cases in Manitoba on Thursday and 12 more people have died from the illness, the province says.

The latest deaths include a Northern Health Region man in his 30s and six deaths linked to outbreaks across the province, a news release says.

Manitoba’s five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate is down to 9.9 per cent, the first time that figure has dipped below 10 per cent since Nov. 9. In Winnipeg, the rate is 10.5 per cent, the release says.

The latest update comes one day before the expiration of the province’s current public health orders, which ban most gatherings and the sale of non-essential items. Those rules expire at 11:59 p.m. on Friday.

But on a conference call with reporters on Thursday, acting deputy chief provincial public health officer Dr. Jazz Atwal said the specifics of what will replace those restrictions are still being discussed — though there’s no indication any rules will be lifted.

Atwal said those details are likely to be revealed on Friday.

Facilities with deaths announced Thursday are a woman in her 90s from Brandon’s Fairview Personal Care Home, and in Winnipeg, a woman in her 60s from the Convalescent Home of Winnipeg, a woman in her 80s from Concordia Personal Care Home, a woman in her 80s from the River East Personal Care Home, a man in his 90s from the Charleswood Care Centre and a woman in her 90s from Bethania Mennonite Personal Care Home, the release says.

The latest deaths, which bring Manitoba’s total to 717, also include a Prairie Mountain Health man in his 60s, a Southern Health woman in her 60s and three women, in their 50s, 70s and 80s, in the Winnipeg health region.

A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared at the McCreary/Alonsa Health Centre in McCreary, Man., the release says.

The outbreak at Winnipeg’s Seine River Retirement Home is now over.

About half the new cases announced Thursday (105) are in the Winnipeg health region, while just under one-third (60) are in the Northern Health Region, the release says. The remaining new cases are split between the Prairie Mountain Health and Southern Health regions (17 each) and the Interlake-Eastern health region (nine).

There were 2,132 COVID-19 tests done in Manitoba on Wednesday, the release says. That’s the highest number done in a single day since numbers were announced after Christmas on Dec. 27.

Those tests bring the total number done in the province to 432,839.

Seven previously announced COVID-19 cases were removed from Manitoba’s totals on Thursday, the release says, bringing the total number identified in the province to 25,742.

Sites where there have been possible COVID-19 exposures in Manitoba are listed by region on the province’s website.

There are now 319 COVID-19 patients in hospital, including 228 who are still infectious, the release says. Of those people, 35 are in intensive care (including 31 still infectious).

There are also 26 COVID-19 patients on ventilators, including 23 whose cases are still considered active, Shared Health Chief Nursing Officer Lanette Siragusa said on the conference call.

To date, 20,519 people in Manitoba have been deemed to have recovered from COVID-19, and 4,506 cases are still considered active — though health officials say that number is still inflated by a data entry backlog.

All-season shelters at all Manitoba’s 125 personal care homes will soon be ready to use, the release says. While the province remains at the critical red pandemic response level, the shelters will be used to allow one person to visit a care home resident at a time.

Sites that don’t have those shelters have identified spaces for visits with similar pandemic precautions in place, the release says. Masks will be required, physical distancing has to be maintained and visitors will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms or exposures. 

All visits will be by appointment only, with more details coming from each care home in the coming days, the release says.

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COVID deaths rise to 53 in Northern Health – Prince George Citizen



One more person in the Northern Health region has died from COVID-19, according to B.C. Centre for Disease Control numbers issued Tuesday.

The fatality increased the total to 53 in the region since the pandemic broke out and was among 12 deaths reported province-wide, increasing that total to 1,090 deaths. Seven of those new deaths were in Fraser Health, raising the total there to 611.

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Active cases in Northern Health stood at 525, down by six from the day before, with 40 in hospital, no change from Monday, and 17 of them in intensive care, up by one.

For B.C. as a whole, active cases rose by six to 4,331, with Fraser Health accounting for 1,737, up 34, and Vancouver Coastal 818, down 35. Interior Health stood at 1,055, Vancouver Island at 184 and out of Canada at 12 with marginal changes in those totals from Monday.

Meanwhile, Northern Health reported a new exposure D.P. Todd Secondary School. It is for Jan. 11-12 and is the second time the school has been put on the list.

“If your child’s school has been notified of an exposure, no action is required unless you are contacted by Public Health or are otherwise directed by school officials,” Northern Health says in the posting. “Public Health will contact you directly in case of any school exposure involving your child.”

In a joint statement, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and health minister Adrian Dix stressed good practices while people wait for the vaccine rollout.

“The vaccines are our path forward to the brighter days ahead. However, until that path is wide enough for everyone, we must continue to focus on our individual efforts,” they said.

“To get to the finish line faster and to make our communities safer, we must stop the spread in our communities today. We do that by following the measures we have in place: washing our hands, staying home when we are ill, getting tested and always using our layers of protection.

“Let’s choose safety by continuing to do our part to protect everyone in our province.”

Also on Tuesday, Dix said B.C. is still on track to begin administering second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine despite the news that no vials will be delivered to Canada next week.

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COVID-19 update: B.C.'s health ministry to reveal latest new cases, deaths, outbreaks – CTV News Vancouver



British Columbia reported another 465 cases of COVID-19 and 12 deaths related to the disease on Tuesday.

The province has now recorded a total of 61,912 coronavirus infections since the start of the pandemic and 1,090 fatalities.

In a joint statement, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix offered condolences to “everyone who lost their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Another 443 people have recovered from the disease since B.C.’s last update, leaving 4,331 active cases across the province.

That includes 329 patients in hospital, 70 of whom are in intensive care.

The province has seen an average of 479 cases per day over the last week, which is similar to the number of infections that were being identified at end of December.

The rolling seven-day average increased to 582 cases per day after the first week of January, but has been gradually decreasing since.

Tuesday’s COVID-19 update came hours after the federal government confirmed Canada would not be receiving any new shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine next week. The country received 82 per cent of its expected shipment this week as a result of previously announced delays.

B.C. was expecting to receive about 5,800 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine next week, though Dix said the province still expects to be able to deliver second doses as scheduled.

Health officials have decided on a 35-day interval between doses, and Wednesday will mark 36 days from when B.C. began administering its first shots.

The province should be receiving 25,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine per week after the shortage ends, according to Dix.

While British Columbians await their turn to get immunized against COVID-19, Henry and Dix stressed the need to continue their individual efforts to limit the spread of the disease.

“To get to the finish line faster and to make our communities safer, we must stop the spread in our communities today. We do that by following the measures we have in place: washing our hands, staying home when we are ill, getting tested and always using our layers of protection,” they said.

“Let’s choose safety by continuing to do our part to protect everyone in our province.”

With files from The Canadian Press

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City of Winnipeg allowed employees to use its gyms during code red – CTV News Winnipeg



The City of Winnipeg has been allowing its employees to use gyms and fitness centres at its facilities amid code red restrictions due to an exemption for governments in health orders.

The City of Winnipeg confirmed to CTV News on Tuesday evening that fitness facilities in Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service and Winnipeg Police Service stations, along with six other facilities, have been open and operating for city employees only under a reduced capacity limit.

The city said these centres were used predominantly by first responders working in or near the buildings.

Under current health orders that have been in place in Manitoba since Nov. 12, all indoor sporting or recreational facilities, including gyms and fitness facilities, must be closed. Though some restrictions are expected to be eased when health orders expire on Friday, the province said gyms and fitness centres will be required to remain closed for now.

Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer, said while the City of Winnipeg was not specifically given permission to operate its in-house gyms, the health orders that required gyms and fitness centres to close do not apply to any level of government.

“We expect governments to be able to regulate and so we’re not going to tell governments how they function,” Roussin said. “If they feel that they could have limited capacity and run these gyms for their employees for certain reasons, then we’re not regulating that.”

Roussin said if gyms and fitness centres were allowed to open across Manitoba, it could cause cases to spike.

He said he was aware that health inspectors visited some of the gyms operating at City of Winnipeg facilities, and found them safe.

Transcona Coun. Shawn Nason blew the whistle on social media about the city’s operation of fitness centres during code red restrictions.

“I’m disappointed in myself for being so distracted with the business at City Hall to have not raised the issue sooner than when I became aware today that the City was not covered under the blanket rules assigned by (the) Province,” Nason said in a statement to CTV News.

“Even though I didn’t access the gym at any time during the Code Red restrictions, we should respect the provincial orders and align ourselves with so many that have had to shutter their businesses due (to) this unprecedented time.”

A spokesperson for the city told CTV News the city was not aware until today that it was being allowed to operate its fitness centres solely because it is a municipal government.

“Several months ago, we sought clarification from provincial public health officials on whether fitness facilities within civic workplaces accessible only to, and for City employees, could remain open,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

“The province advised us that these facilities could in fact continue to operate provided posted capacity limits and physical guidelines were maintained and adhered to.”

Despite the exemption, they said effective immediately the city is closing its employee fitness centres.

Fitness centres at Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service and Winnipeg Police Service stations will continue to operate because “mandatory fitness standards are a requirement of first responders’ jobs.”

“We will continue to encourage our employees to explore alternative ways of maintaining their physical health while adhering to public health guidelines,” they said.

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