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95 new COVID-19 cases, 3 deaths in Manitoba on Saturday –



There are 95 new COVID-19 cases in Manitoba on Saturday and three more people have died after getting the illness, the province says in a news release.

Nearly two-thirds of the new cases — 59 — are in the hard-hit Northern Health Region, which is dealing with several outbreaks.

Another 31 of the new cases on Saturday are in the Winnipeg health region, the release says, while the remaining new cases are split between the Interlake-Eastern health region (three) and the Southern Health region (two). There are no new cases in the Prairie Mountain Health region.

The deaths announced Saturday are all linked to outbreaks in the Winnipeg health region, including two at the same hospital, the release says.

A woman in her 60s connected to Seven Oaks General Hospital’s 3U1-3 unit, a man in his 80s linked to the hospital’s 3U4-7 unit and a woman in her 90s at the Actionmarguerite St. Boniface care home have died.

Those deaths bring the province’s total to 882.

Manitoba’s five-day test positivity rate is now 5.3 per cent, Saturday’s news release says, down from 5.7 on Friday. Winnipeg’s is now four per cent, down from 4.2.

There are now 206 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Manitoba, down by seven. Thirty-one of those people are now in intensive care, the release says, up by four from the past two days.

There have still only been four cases of the B117 coronavirus variant, which was first detected in the U.K., in Manitoba, after three cases were announced on Friday. The first case of the more contagious variant was announced early last week.

All four cases were linked to international travel and have since recovered, officials said.

There have now been a total of 31,329 COVID-19 cases identified in Manitoba, the release says. To date, 29,240 people are deemed recovered, while 1,207 cases are still considered active, though officials have previously said that number may be inflated by a data entry backlog.

There were 1,642 COVID-19 tests done in Manitoba on Friday, the release says, bringing the total number of swabs completed since early last February to 510,542.

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Moderna says waiving IP rights won’t help increase vaccine supply



Moderna Inc said on Thursday that waiving intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines will not help boost supply in 2021 or 2022, a day after U.S. President Joe Biden backed a proposed waiver that is aimed at giving poorer companies access.


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Canada allows Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 12-15



(Corrects headline and lead to make clear that Canada was not the first nation as stated by Canadian officials, adds context from Pfizer in fourth paragraph)

By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) –Canada is authorizing the use of Pfizer Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in children aged 12 to 15, the first doses to be allowed in the country for people that young, the federal health ministry said on Wednesday.

Supriya Sharma, a senior adviser at the Canadian federal health ministry, said the Pfizer vaccine, produced with German partner BioNTech SE, was safe and effective in the younger age group.

“We are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” she told reporters.

Sharma and a health ministry spokesman said Canada was the first country to grant such an approval, but a Canadian representative for Pfizer later said Algeria permitted use of the vaccine for this age group in April. The Canadian health ministry said it had no information about the discrepancy.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to take a similar step “very soon,” U.S. health officials said.

Separately, authorities reported the third death of a Canadian from a rare blood clot condition after receiving AstraZeneca PLC’s’s COVID-19 vaccine. The man, who was in his sixties, lived in the Atlantic province of New Brunswick.

Jennifer Russell, the chief medical officer of health in New Brunswick, said the province would continue using the AstraZeneca vaccine. Alberta reported a death from clotting on Tuesday and Quebec announced one on April 27.

“There will be rare cases where thrombosis will occur. However, the risks remain minimal compared to the risks, complications and potential consequences of COVID-19,” Russell told reporters.

Canada‘s federal government has bought tens of millions of doses of vaccines but critics complain the pace of inoculation is lagging due to bottlenecks in the 10 provinces, which are responsible for administering the doses.

Alberta will become the first province to offer COVID-19 vaccines to everyone aged 12 and over from May 10, Premier Jason Kenney said on Wednesday, a day after he introduced tighter public health measures to combat a third wave of the pandemic.

Alberta, home to Canada‘s oil patch, has the highest rate per capita of COVID-19 in the country, with nearly 24,000 active cases and 150 people in intensive care.

Around 20% of the 1,249,950 cases of COVID-19 in Canada have been reported in people under the age of 19. Canada has recorded 24,396 deaths.

(Additional reporting by Allison Martell in Toronto and Nia Williams in Calgary;Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Sonya Hepinstall)

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Younger people filling up COVID-19 intensive care



By Anthony Boadle

BRASILIA (Reuters) –COVID-19 infections continue to spread fast across the Americas as a result of relaxed prevention measures and intensive care units are filling up with younger people, the director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday.

In Brazil, mortality rates have doubled among those younger than 39, quadrupled among those in their 40s and tripled for those in their 50s since December, Carissa Etienne said.

Hospitalization rates among those under 39 years have increased by more than 70% in Chile and in some areas of the United States more people in their 20s are now being hospitalized for COVID-19 than people in their 70s.

“Despite all we learned about this virus in a year, our control efforts are not as strict, and prevention is not as efficient,” Etienne said in a virtual briefing from Washington.

“We are seeing what happens when these measures are relaxed: COVID spreads, cases mount, our health systems become overwhelmed and people die,” she said.

Canada continues to report significant jumps in infections in highly populated provinces such as Ontario as well as in less populated territories of the North and Yukon, home to remote and indigenous communities, according to PAHO.

Puerto Rico and Cuba remain significant drivers of COVID-19 cases in the Caribbean, which is facing a new surge of the virus, PAHO directors said.

Cases are rapidly accelerating in the Guyanas and across Argentina and Colombia, where weekly case counts are five times higher today than they were this time last year and hospitals are reaching capacity in large Colombian cities.

In Central America, Guatemala is seeing significant spikes in cases and Costa Rica is reporting record-high infections.

While vaccines are being rolled out as fast as possible, they are not a short-term solution because they are in short supply, said Etienne, the World Health Organization’s regional director.

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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