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Health officials in Manitoba say two more people with COVID-19 have died and 173 new cases of the virus have been identified.
The numbers come as the province says it has been forced to immediately stop scheduling vaccine appointments after the federal government warned to expect further disruptions in the vaccine supply.
The virus’s latest victims include a woman in her 80s from the Southern Health region and a man in his 80s from the Winnipeg Health region. Both are linked to outbreaks at personal care homes.
Since March, 795 Manitobans have now died from COVID-19.
The new cases bring the province’s total number of cases reported since March to 28,260 after health officials said two previously announced cases have been removed due to a data correction.
On Thursday, as 198 new cases and five new deaths were reported, the province said it will ease some of the restrictions in southern and central areas as case numbers continue to slowly drop.
Starting Saturday, non-essential retail stores will be allowed to reopen at 25 per cent capacity. Since November, they have been limited to delivery or curbside pickup service.
Hair salons, barbershops and some personal health services such as reflexology can restart as well.
A ban on social visits inside private homes is also being eased. Households will be allowed to designate two people who will be allowed to visit indoors. Up to five people can visit outdoors.
The changes, which will last at least three weeks, are not being made in the northern health region, where outbreaks in isolated communities have caused a spike in case numbers in recent weeks.
Further vaccine delays
On Friday the province said it has stopped taking vaccine appointments in both Winnipeg and Brandon after reporting a another supply reduction of the Pfizer vaccine.
Health officials say the federal government has told Manitoba to expect 2,340 doses instead of 5,850 doses in the first week of February.
It’s the third time in a week the federal government has told the province to expect fewer doses than health officials had originally planned for.
The reductions reported between Jan. 25 and Feb. 7 represent a 90 per cent decrease from what was projected last week, the province says.
So far, this means Manitoba will be receiving 32,760 fewer doses than had been expected.
Vaccination appointments that have already been booked haven’t been cancelled, but health officials are still reviewing current vaccine supplies and cancellations may be necessary, the province says.
Meanwhile efforts to vaccinate all eligible personal care home residents are continuing.
The province says by the end of this week, teams will have visited 61 personal care homes with an estimated 3,903 residents. That means roughly 90 per cent of residents have been immunized, according to the province.
Vaccination teams will head to another 62 personal care home facilities next week.
The province says it has so far received 55,650 doses of vaccine, including 40,950 doses of Pfizer vaccine (based on six doses per vial) and 14,700 doses of the Moderna vaccine.
As of Friday 23,884 doses of vaccine have been administered in Manitoba including 20,846 first doses and a total of 3,038 second doses, the province says.
–With files from The Canadian Press
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.
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