Health official warns Manitobans not to ignore rules as 133 new COVID cases reported

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WINNIPEG — A top health official in Manitoba says the province is headed in the right direction when it comes to slowing the spread of COVID-19, but the fight is far from won.

On Tuesday, the province announced 133 new cases of the virus and five additional deaths figures much lower than Manitobans have grown accustomed to over the fall and winter surge of the pandemic.

Dr. Jazz Atwal, acting deputy chief provincial public health officer, told a news briefing that the test positivity rate for the province and in Winnipeg remains high at about 12 per cent.

He added 1,300 COVID-19 tests were done Monday, and it's typical to see lower numbers following a holiday but that "does not mean we can be careless with our actions."

"It does not mean we can take the restrictions currently in place less seriously."

As of Monday, Manitoba had the second-highest rate of active infections per capita in Canada, behind Alberta.

With the province's current public-health rules set to expire next week, Atwal said officials will have to see how the virus is spreading closer to Jan. 8 to determine whether restrictions can be loosened.

In particular, he urged residents not to socialize on New Year's Eve.

"We've had a few days where our numbers have reached below 200. We know we still have a strain on our acute care system," said Atwal.

The province said a little more than 2,100 immunizations against COVID-19 have been administered so far. Atwal said another 1,000 shots were planned for this week.

Officials were looking at doing another 6,000 vaccinations next week at a convention centre in Winnipeg.

Health-care workers are eligible to be immunized if they work in a COVID-19 clinic or testing site, or are older, working in critical care or a long-term care facility.

— By Stephanie Taylor in Regina

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec, 29, 2020

The Canadian Press