The clock is running out as health officials continue to discuss the future of Manitoba's COVID-19 restrictions.
Public Health Orders in Manitoba have historically been announced on the Tuesday or Wednesday before expiring. This allows Manitobans time to process the orders and provide feedback, something the government has frequently done through telephone town halls. With orders set to expire on Friday, Manitobans are currently in the dark.
Deputy Public Health Minister Dr. Jazz Atwal says they are currently discussing what could be in the orders.
He says Manitobans can expect news Friday.
"What tomorrow brings is going to be a bit of a question mark," the doctor says during a press briefing on Thursday. "Not knowing what our case numbers are going to be adds a bit to that complexity."
Atwal says cases from holiday gatherings are now surfacing, adding to the difficulty predicting future case numbers, leaving the decision down to the wire. He says public health officials are seeing a bump in cases as a result of people gathering.
While the doctor did not have much to share about what will be in the new orders, he has said the group is closely monitoring hospital capacity, case numbers, how cases are acquired, and many other items.
Atwal says it is taking longer because they trying to make "really really good decisions for Manitobans." He says he does not want to speculate what the orders could be, as he does not know what Friday could bring.
The doctor was unable to share if the province was looking to make the same orders applicable province-wide or if each region will have its own orders under different pandemic response plan levels.
Manitobans can expect to see gradual changes to the orders if restrictions ease.
This "circuit breaker" that was expected to last for a short while has extended long past what many anticipated, with cases continuing to be higher than anticipated.
For almost two months Manitoba has been under Red: Critical on the Pandemic System Response Plan, strictly limiting what can and cannot be sold in stores, as well as group gatherings.
Since November 12, Manitoba has had 15,960 additional cases of COVID-19. The total number of deaths as of Thursday morning due to COVID-19 is 717. On November 12 that number was 132.
In the previous two weeks, Manitoba's cases of COVID-19 had been down significantly, with the majority of daily cases being in the 100s versus reaching as high as the 500s in November.