69 new cases found in northern Manitoba, Sask. far north east 2 zone hits 55 active cases

One new death, an increase in cases on both sides of the border and vaccines trickling their way into the north - there's a lot of new information on the COVID-19 front.

Another person in northern Manitoba has died from COVID-19, reported by the province as a man in his 70s in the Grand Rapids/Misipawistik/Moose Lake/Mosakahiken/Easterville/Chemawawin district.

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The district was one of the region's hotspots for COVID-19 late last year, but cases and restrictions imposed by the band appear to have stopped a full-blown outbreak at Mosakahiken Cree Nation. The district is now down to having one active case of the disease after reporting a total of 192 cases - four people in the district have died from COVID-19 and 187 people have recovered.

The Northern Health Region had 69 total new cases added to its rolls Friday, bringing the region up to 1060 active cases. Five cases that had been previously announced in the north were taken off provincial data counts or moved elsewhere within the province.

The majority of the new cases were found in remote communities. The Island Lake district is now at 293 cases, up from 267 cases Thursday, while the Thompson/Mystery Lake district is now up to 64 active cases, having reported 14 more cases Friday. 

Eight new cases were reported in the Lynn Lake/Marcel Colomb/Leaf Rapids/O-Pipon-Na-Piwin/Granville Lake district, where a death from COVID-19 was announced earlier this week. The district now has 19 active COVID-19 cases.

Active case counts only went down in four northern districts, with the Bay Line, Bunibonibee/Oxford House/Manto Sipi/Gods River/Gods Lake, Grand Rapids and Norway House districts reporting active case reductions.

Province-wide, nine more people have died from COVID-19 - 726 people in Manitoba have died from the disease. Manitoba currently has 4,582 active COVID-19 cases, more than 20 per cent of which are in the Northern Health Region. Three hundred and fifteen people are in Manitoba hospitals due to COVID-19, including 227 people with active cases and 35 people in intensive care.

Saskatchewan's case counts continue to grow, reporting 336 cases within the province Friday. Saskatchewan now has 3,053 active cases, with 180 people in hospital and 26 people in intensive care. Out of the 336 cases, 52 were reported in the far north east health zone, including eight new cases in the far north east 2 health zone, which contains Creighton, Denare Beach, Pelican Narrows, Sandy Bay and other communities near Flin Flon.

Unlike Manitoba, Saskatchewan does not break data down to smaller, more detailed districts, making it difficult to discern which communities cases may be in. The Angelique Canada Health Centre in Pelican Narrows has reported 20 total cases active in the community as of Jan. 7, with 189 people having been infected with COVID-19 in Pelican Narrows since an outbreak began there in November. Eighteen cases are considered active in Deschambault Lake, according to the community's Jonah Sewap Memorial Health Centre. The locations of any other cases have not been confirmed.

Vaccines

Vaccinations for COVID-19 are slowly trickling their way into the north.

Province-wide, Saskatchewan has administered 6,015 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, while Manitoba has given 7,484 people their first shot, but only 32 people in the Northern Health Region have received their shot.

Both provinces have been lagging behind in their distribution. While Manitoba has received 29,530 doses of vaccines, procured by the federal government, barely a quarter of those vaccines have been used.  Saskatchewan has been more efficient, but not by much - about two-thirds of the vaccines received by the province are still in storage.

The Saskatchewan government has began to supply vaccines throughout the province, making it into Regina, Saskatoon, Prince Albert and communities in the far north west health zone near the Alberta border.  In Manitoba, the first major batch of Moderna vaccines earmarked for northern and Indigenous communities were shipped out earlier this week. Another shipment of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines is set to be delivered in Manitoba next week, with a third of that sent to Brandon to supply a second "super site" for vaccinations.

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