65 new cases of COVID-19, 1 death reported as Manitoba inches toward 2nd vaccination milestone
4 deaths since Friday all linked to B.1.1.7 or alpha variant
Manitoba reports 65 new cases of COVID-19 and another death on Monday as the province looks toward the end of the pandemic.
The forward view comes as nearly 75 per cent of eligible Manitobans have had their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and more than 50 per cent have had two doses, putting the next phase of reopenings within sight.
"Looking at other jurisdictions that have had high vaccine rates, we can see that perhaps this pandemic's days are numbered," Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said.
"It's certainly reason to be hopeful considering Manitoba's vaccine uptake."
The 65 new cases on Monday were among a total of 177 new cases of COVID-19 and four more deaths since Friday, the last time there was a provincial news release about COVID-19.
WATCH | Roussin on a post-pandemic Manitoba:
There were 35 cases in the Winnipeg health region, 11 in the Prairie Mountain Health region, nine in the Interlake-Eastern health region, and five each in the Northern and Southern health regions on Monday.
All four deaths recorded since Friday are linked to the more contagious B.1.1.7 or alpha variant. Men in their 40s, 60s and 80s, all from Winnipeg, and a man in his 70s from the Southern Health region have died.
The total number of deaths due to COVID-19 in the province is now 1,151.
There are now 156 COVID-19 patients in hospital, the province said, up from 150 on Sunday.
Of those, 40 patients are in intensive care units in Manitoba, down two from the day before. There are also six critically ill Manitobans in hospitals in Ontario.
Manitoba's five-day test positivity rose slightly to 6.3 per cent, from six per cent on Sunday. In Winnipeg, that rate is 6.1 per cent.
On Sunday, 1,126 COVID-19 tests were done in Manitoba.
Though first dose vaccinations have slowed in recent weeks, the proportion of Manitobans who are fully vaccinated has almost doubled in two weeks.
Manitoba topped its July 1 immunization targets a couple of weeks ahead of schedule, which allowed some businesses to reopen at 25 per cent capacity ahead of Canada Day.
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The next phase of reopenings hinges on 75 per cent of Manitobans getting first doses and 50 per cent getting second doses, but the province is well ahead of schedule, Roussin said.
The provincial government plans to increase capacity limits in many businesses to 50 per cent by the Terry Fox Day long weekend in August if the vaccination goals are met. That's likely to happen any day now.
"Immunization is our key to a post-pandemic Manitoba," Roussin said.
Reopenings could expand further if 80 per cent of those eligible have received one dose and 75 per cent have received two by Labour Day.
Premier Brian Pallister has previously said if Manitoba hits targets ahead of schedule that the province would consider loosening restrictions sooner than planned.
In some other jurisdictions, the more contagious delta variant, also called B.1.617.2, has derailed reopening plans.
Provincial modelling on the delta variant is being developed and likely will be released in the coming weeks, Roussin said.
Experts have warned provinces not to rule out a fourth wave of the pandemic as a result of that coronavirus variant.
WATCH | Full news conference on COVID-19 | July 5, 2021:
With files from Bryce Hoye