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Our province has announced three priority communities that are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Dr. Joss Reimer with the Vaccine Implementation Task Force says all people aged 18 and older who live or work in specified jobs in three priority communities in Winnipeg, including Downtown East, Point Douglas South and Inkster East, are now eligible for immunization.
“Our analysis has shown that these communities are particularly hard hit or at high risk for transmission,” notes Dr. Reimer.
Those specific jobs include people who work in schools and child care facilities, those employed in food processing facilities, grocery stores and convenience stores and employees of retail gas stations and any place that serves food directly to the public.
“These first three communities are truly just the first three,” notes Dr. Reimer.
She says additional communities, including ones outside of Winnipeg, will be announced next week. According to Dr. Reimer, each regional health authority in Manitoba will probably have communities identified at some point.
When determining which communities to include on this list, Dr. Reimer says their analysis includes looking at COVID-19 rates since October 1st, population density, the percentage of the population that is racialized in these communities, income levels and access to suitable housing.
Meanwhile, public health officials on Friday announced an additional 181 new cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba. Over the last seven days, Manitoba has seen on average 182 new cases of the virus, compared to an average of 122 new cases each day for the seven days prior.
“We can see cases increase very quickly leading to another lockdown,” says Dr. Jazz Atwal, Deputy Chief Provincial Public Health Officer. “Without people significantly changing their behaviour, we will have to consider another lockdown.”
Dr. Atwal says public health orders detail the maximum level of restrictions that are required, though he encourages Manitobans to take as many additional precautions as possible in order to protect against rising case counts.
“From a public health perspective, we really don’t want to limit activities or lockdown, there are negative implications with that,” says Dr. Atwal. “There’s mental health issues that could surround that, there’s other factors at play here, social issues that could happen as well, economic issues which have an impact on health.”