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Manitoba health officials give update on efforts against COVID-19

Manitobans will get an update on the province’s ongoing fight against COVID-19 Friday.

Dr. Jazz Atwal, acting deputy chief provincial public health officer, has scheduled a press conference for 12:30 p.m. Global News will stream the event live here.

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The media briefing comes a day after health officials confirmed the first case of the COVID-19 P.1 variant in the province.

The variant, first detected in Brazil, was discovered in the case of a person from the Interlake-Eastern health region, the province said in a release Thursday.

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The P.1 variant is believed to be more transmissible and capable of evading prior immunogenicity — or reinfect people who have previously been infected with the original, or “wild,” type of COVID-19.

On Thursday the government also said it will soon expand eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines to include first responders across the province and all adults living in communities most at risk of the coronavirus.

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Police officers, adults in high-risk communities will soon be eligible for vaccine in Manitoba

Health and Seniors Care Minister Heather Stefanson says details will be released next week, but the plan is to include front-line police and firefighters.

She says in communities where the risk is greatest, all adults will be eligible, with an emphasis on people in public-facing jobs such as teachers.

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Manitoba is currently offering vaccines to the general public starting at age 39 for First Nations people and 59 for others. Targeted vaccine programs have been run for people in long-term care homes and other group facilities.

Since March 2020 Manitoba has reported 35,688 cases of COVID-19 and 955 people with the virus have died.

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Manitoba has so far seen 647 cases of variants of concern, including 567 of the B.1.1.7 strain first identified in the United Kingdom, 20 cases of the B.1.351 variant first found in South Africa, and 59 that as of Thursday were yet to be specified.

— with files from The Canadian Press

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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.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, visit our coronavirus page.

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