Manitoba's efforts to reduce contacts are proving to be successful, but officials say the pandemic is not over yet.
While Manitobans continue to be encouraged to follow the fundamentals, cases across the province continue to fall. Chief Nursing Officer Lanette Siragusa made an appearance at a COVID-19 press update to share that they are seeing improvements across the health sector.
"As we start to shift the work back to our normal activities, our normal service deliveries, including surgeries, staff are beginning to be redeployed out of those high priority covid areas including personal care homes, critical care, and medicine, and gradually coming back to their home units," Siragusa says.
A lower number of COVID-19 cases means hospital beds are slowly starting to shift back to surgery needs.
"It is great momentum and we are really excited and hope to get back to normal soon," Siragusa says.
Select healthcare procedures at Misericordia Hospital, Concordia Hospital, Riverview Health Centre, Thompson General Hospital, Carman Memorial Hospital, and others. The resumption is a welcome change.
Siragusa says the slow move is intentional as the province continues to see COVID-19 hospitalizations.
"These improved numbers across the board really are the efforts of all Manitobans making so many sacrifices for so many weeks and months. I just want to acknowledge all those efforts, all those sacrifices. We are definitely going in the right direction."
COVID-19 vaccination doses for over 5,000 First Nations community members who have been devastated by high rates of COVID-19 will be heading north as early as Monday.
Dr. Brent Roussin says they are encouraged by the shift, but reiterates that Manitobans need to stay vigilant.
"Overall, I think that the reports are that people are still sticking to the fundamentals; they are following the restrictions. I think it has been some challenging times and if we can continue the progress that we are seeing then we are hoping to again further the loosening are we go forward," Roussin says.
In the southern half of Manitoba, residents have benefited from two weekends of sightly relaxed restrictions, including restrictions on shopping. Despite long lineups to enter the reduced-capacity stores, cases have remained stagnant. Roussin says many people from Nothern Manitoba, who had been restricted in their shopping had been travelling to Winnipeg to do their shopping, as was anticipated by northern community leaders.
The elimination of the essential goods list takes place at midnight Tuesday.
The rest of Manitoba will need to wait for at least another week before seeing any changes to the Public Health Orders, which are set to expire on February 12. Roussin says Public Health will be closely watching the numbers going into next week.