The province announced three new deaths linked to COVID-19 Saturday, the same day restrictions were eased across most of the province.
A man in his 60s died, along with two women; one in her 70s, the other in her 80s. They were all from the Winnipeg health region, according to the provincial COVID-19 bulletin.
Public health officials recorded 216 new infections, with more than half in the province’s north.
Of the new cases, 118 are in the Northern health region, 50 in the Winnipeg health region, 22 in Interlake-Eastern, 14 in Southern health and 12 in Prairie Mountain Health.
The five-day test positivity rate is 9.8 per cent in Manitoba and 6.5 per cent in Winnipeg.
There are 272 people in hospital, with 40 in the ICU.
The number of Manitobans who have died of COVID-19 now stands at 798.
According to the bulletin, 1,836 tests were done Friday, bringing the total number since February 2020 to 463,084.
The Manitoba government released the update as new public health orders came into effect.
Retailers can sell non-essential items again, hair salons and barber shops can open and Manitobans are allowed to have two designated visitors to their households.
The new orders do not apply to northern Manitoba, where cases have jumped over the past few weeks.
The province also began accepting appointments Saturday for a pilot testing site in Winnipeg, which is dedicated to educational staff.
Manitoba teachers, educational support staff and others working in schools or with students can now book appointments for rapid testing at the Fast Pass site at 1066 Nairn Avenue.
“Eligible clients must be symptomatic, identified as a close contact because of an exposure at school or have a symptomatic household member,” reads the bulletin.
Appointments can be made here.
Ontario to release updated COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan as province sees 1,250 new cases – CBC.ca
Ontario officials are expected to provide an update on the province’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout on Friday, as residents of three health units also wait to see if stay-at-home orders will be lifted for their regions.
Premier Doug Ford is scheduled to hold a news conference beginning at 1 p.m. ET at Queen’s Park. Ford’s office says he will be joined by the minister of health, chief medical officer of health, solicitor general and the head of Ontario’s vaccine task force.
You’ll be able to watch the news conference live in this story.
Several recent developments forced members of the vaccine task force to revise Ontario’s immunization strategy.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine was approved for use by Health Canada late last week, while this morning, the agency will give a green light for use of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, sources tell CBC News.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) subsequently recommended that the AstraZeneca vaccine only be used for people under the age of 65. As more real-time evidence on the efficacy of the vaccine has become available, however, pressure has mounted for NACI to change course.
Ontario Solicitor General Sylvia Jones suggested this week that, at least for now, Ontario will use the AstraZeneca vaccine for adults between 60 and 64.
Both France and Germany had originally implemented similar guidance for the vaccine, but have since reversed those decisions, citing evidence from countries such as the United Kingdom and Israel, where the AstraZeneca vaccine is already being administered to adults 65 and over.
And earlier this week, NACI said that provinces can safely extend the time between shots of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines up to four months.
The move followed an announcement by health officials in British Columbia, who said just days earlier they would implement a 16-week interval to ensure that more people got a first dose of vaccine earlier.
Both vaccines have been shown to be more than 90 per cent effective at preventing severe illness and death from COVID-19 after a single dose.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Ontario Ministry of Health said it welcomed the new recommendations from NACI.
“This will allow Ontario to rapidly accelerate its vaccine rollout and get as many vaccines into arms as quickly as possible, and in doing so, provide more protection to more people,” a ministry spokesperson said in an email.
Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott has said repeatedly that an updated rollout plan would be released by the government imminently.
Also today, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, is expected to announce whether stay-at-home orders will be lifted in Toronto, Peel Region and North Bay-Parry Sound.
Local health officers in Toronto and Peel have asked that their respective units be moved to the grey “lockdown” tier of the province’s colour-coded restrictions system.
That would mean that the stay-at-home order is lifted and non-essential businesses are allowed to reopen to customers with limited capacity, among other changes. You can read the province’s breakdown of each tier of the framework here.
Williams said on Thursday that he remains concerned about the presence of “variants of concern.”
“These are not insignificant numbers,” he told reporters. “We want to be cautious at this time.”
Most new cases in a week
Meanwhile, public health units reported another 1,250 cases of COVID-19 this morning, the most on a single day in a week.
The new cases include 337 in Toronto, 167 in Peel Region and 129 in York Region.
They come as Ontario’s lab network completed 64,748 test samples for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and logged a test positivity rate of 2.3 per cent.
The seven-day average of daily cases stands at 1,063.
Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine becomes 4th to receive Health Canada approval – CBC.ca
Health Canada has approved the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine in Canada, CBC News has learned.
Health officials will announce the approval at a media briefing today at 10 a.m. ET, multiple sources with knowledge of the approval confirmed.
The U.S. health-care giant’s vaccine is the fourth to be approved in Canada.
The approval is expected to provide a significant boost to Canada’s vaccine rollout. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is widely seen as one of the easiest to administer because it requires only one dose and can be stored for long periods of time at regular refrigerator temperatures.
Canada has ordered 10 million doses from Johnson & Johnson with options for up to 28 million more. Most of those shots are expected to arrive by the end of September.
Regulatory approval in this country follows similar approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Saturday.
The FDA said Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine offers strong protection against serious illness, hospitalizations and death. One dose proved to be 85 per cent protective against the most severe COVID-19 illness in a global clinical trial spanning three continents.
More to come.
3 Ontario regions to pilot COVID-19 vaccines at some pharmacies next week – Yahoo News Canada
Some Ontario pharmacies could be offering COVID-19 vaccines as early as next week as part of a provincial pilot program rolling out in three regions.
Toronto, Kingston and Windsor-Essex are the three areas involved in the project, according to Justin Bates, the CEO of the Ontario Pharmacists Association (OPA).
It’s not known yet how many doses would be assigned to pharmacies or how many will be participating. Bates said a comprehensive list of participating stores will be finalized by Monday.
Tentatively, however, the plan is for the selected pharmacies to use the newly approved AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine. Bates said the three regions were chosen in consultation with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
“The three public health units were very much advanced in their vaccination plans as it related to determining what role pharmacies would play in those regions,” he said.
“But we’re planning to scale up and we’ll be adding more stores. We want all pharmacies to be able to participate once the vaccine is available.”
Vaccine expires at the end of March, says OPA
The OPA is currently working on the details of the plan, said Bates, and are aiming to distribute vaccines across 380 stores in total. However, timing is a factor for the supply as the first shipment of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine is set to expire at the end of this month.
“We have a very short window to operationalise this and get all of those vaccines into arms, and that’s part of the reason why we’re launching next week,” said Bates. “We’re doing it on a limited basis because that’ll give us enough vaccine for those 380 stores to get it out of their pharmacies by the end of the month.”
Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health for Windsor and Essex County, said the additional vaccines are “good news.”
“This means more protection. More vaccines in our community. We really want people to use that opportunity to get vaccinated,” said Ahmed.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunizations isn’t recommending the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine for those 65 and older, and those who are younger will be the target group for these doses. Health Canada has authorized it to be used in adults of all ages.
OPA confirmed that this month’s AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccines will be used on people between the ages of 60 and 64.
“Then [we] will lower the thresholds — probably in increments of five years — in intervals, when we get into April and we have more supply,” Bates said. “It’s going to go sequentially.”
This means following the vaccination of people in the cohort of 60 and 64, the next set of people to be vaccinated would be those between of ages of 55 and 59 years and so forth.
“I’m super excited,’ says Essex, Ont. pharmacist
The pilot project is what some pharmacists, including Tim Brady, the owner of Brady’s Drug Stores, in Essex, Ont. have been pushing for.
While the OPA is finalizing a list of locations for this project, Brady is hopeful his pharmacies will make the cut.
“We know it’s happening, it’s developing and growing rapidly and we’re trying to stay on top of it, but I know everybody will step up and do the best we can to make sure people get the injections they need,” he said.
“I’m super excited. We’ve been waiting for this. The pharmacists of Ontario and that of Essex County are ready to put needles in arms and get the people of Essex County back to a normal life again.”
Brady said the move to allow pharmacists to vaccinate is a good one, given they are equipped for mass vaccinations.
“Even over this COVID year, the Ontario pharmacists are giving over a million injections a year for the flu vaccine. So this is just a natural extension of that,” he said.
Brady said the most challenging part for him is the logistics of the plan and he expects his pharmacy to be busy if it’s part of the project. He said his pharmacy will likely follow an appointment system.
Brady urges people to stay patient as not all pharmacies will have the vaccine yet.
“I want everyone to stay calm. Every pharmacy will inevitably have it,” he said.
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