Covid-19 Briefing
Free Press
A roundup of COVID-19 developments for Friday, Dec. 10, 2021
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A roundup of COVID-19 developments for Friday, Dec. 10, 2021

The variant of concern thing has always been, well, a little concerning and a lot confusing to me.

I mean, isn’t everything about COVID a concern? The infections. The lockdowns. The hospitalizations. The deaths.

But for some reason, I missed the memo on why the mutations to SARS-CoV-2 that gave us new wild cards to worry about wear the variant-of-concern label.

So to end any confusion you might also have had for much of the past year, let me share a little viral trivia I learned today while trying to fix my oven because of a concerning and confusing problem with the convection element.

Those tracking all things viral at the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centres for Disease Control have four tiers for variants, based on such risks as transmission and the ability to evade treatments or vaccines.

The first or lowest tier, is the variant of monitoring. Next is the variant of interest, which sounds like police-speak for someone up to no good. Then we get to the variant of concerns we’ve all come to know and loathe – alpha, beta, gamma, delta and omicron.

There is a fourth level, and the good news is that COVID hasn’t yet mutated to the aptly named virus of high consequence. That designation is reserved for the viral version able to evade prevention measures and medical countermeasures so that we end up with even more cases, more hospitalizations and more deaths.

After watching the panic omicron has spread, I shudder to think what would happen if we were ever hit by a variant from that top tier of fear. We’ve already had enough concern to last a lifetime without adding high consequences to this COVID cocktail.

Paul Samyn, Editor


Chart showing daily status cumulative counts of positive COVID-19 cases


Chart showing daily status cumulative counts of positive COVID-19 cases


Chart showing number of active cases of COVID-19 by health district


Graphic showing first and second vaccine doses administered in Manitoba


Graphic showing vaccination rates in Manitoba health districts


Graphic showing percentage of total population in each province that is fully vaccinated


Chart showing number of new cases, per capita, in each province in the last 14 days

Chart showing new cases per day in Canada


Chart showing total number of Canadian cases over time


To see a larger selection of charts showing the state of COVID-19 provincially and nationally, visit COVID-19 by the numbers 


 ● With no new confirmed omicron cases in the province, the total remains at five. Manitoba recorded 198 new COVID-19 cases Friday — 100 unvaccinated, 16 partially and 82 fully vaccinated — and four additional deaths. There were 142 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, 35 of whom were receiving intensive care as of Friday morning, according to provincial data. Of the new cases reported, 115 are in the Winnipeg health region, with 76 in Prairie Mountain Health, 128 in Southern Health, 43 in the Northern health region, and 39 in Interlake-Eastern. The provincewide test positivity rate is 5.7 per cent. Public-health officials have said they expect to keep seeing increases in Manitoba’s daily case counts over the next few weeks.

● Third-dose eligibility is being expanded in Manitoba to try to prevent a holiday spike in severe illness. Residents of First Nations communities and Manitobans over 60 can now get their third doses if their second dose was administered on or before July 10. Previously, the recommendation was to wait six months between second and third doses, but Manitoba’s vaccine task force is now hoping to protect more people with a booster before holiday gatherings take place.

Vaccine eligibility:

● A pediatric Pfizer vaccine has been approved for children aged five to 11. Parents and caregivers can make first-dose appointments for eligible children online at or by calling 1-844-626-8222. Children must be five years old at the time the appointment is booked. All Manitobans born on or before Dec. 31, 2009, may schedule first-dose vaccine appointments. There must be a minimum of 28 days between first and second shots. Third dose shots are also now available to eligible Manitobans.


For the latest information on current public health orders, restrictions and other guidance, visit the provincial government's website

All Manitobans aged five and up are eligible to schedule a first-dose vaccine appointment. Anyone who has received a first dose of any vaccine can now book their second-dose appointment. There must be a minimum of 28 days between receiving the first and second shots. Most adults are now eligible for a booster shot. For the latest information on vaccination, visit the provincial government's website.

Manitobans who have received all required doses of a vaccine at least 14 days ago can request an immunization card to prove complete vaccination. To request a digital or physical card, visit the provincial government's website.  


 ● New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that masks will once again be required in all indoor public places unless the businesses or venues implement a vaccine requirement. Hochul said the decision to reinstitute a mask mandate was based on a rising number of cases and hospitalizations, which has been especially pronounced in parts of upstate New York. New York enacted a mask mandate at the beginning of the pandemic in April 2020 that ended in June 2021 for vaccinated individuals. The new mask mandate applies to both patrons and staff. New York joins several states with similar indoor mask mandates, including Washington, Oregon, Illinois, New Mexico, Nevada and Hawaii.

● As Quebec reported more than 2,000 new COVID-19 infections for the first time in nearly 11 months, public health officials in Montreal said 14 cases of the omicron variant have now been detected in the city — only five of which are associated with travel outside the country. They encouraging people who visited a gym in the West Island suburb of Kirkland and a community centre in the Lachine borough to get tested for COVID-19, as they may have been exposed to the Omicron variant. Quebec reported 2,013 new cases overall and six deaths. 


 “It is incredible to me that the government is consenting to go ahead with these disruptive changes when they’ve been a complete and utter disaster up to this point. It’s not just the pandemic that broke our health-care system, these so-called transformations broke our health-care system.”

— Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont on a letter confirming the province push ahead with a Winnipeg health region overhaul despite a growing backlog of more than 150,000 surgeries and procedures



Manitoba urges 60-plus, First Nations to get early COVID-19 booster shots

More than 100,000 Manitobans are newly eligible to get booster shots as the province’s vaccine task force tries to prevent a post-holiday spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations. Read More


Province reorganizing WRHA while health system groans under COVID’s weight

Manitoba is pushing ahead with a ‘challenging’ reorganization in Winnipeg’s health region as a backlog of more than 150,000 surgeries and medical procedures grows by the day and elderly patients are moved hundreds of kilometres from home to keep beds open for a COVID surge. Read More


Vic Foundation wears heart on shirt

Victoria General Hospital’s fundraising body has teamed up with Winnipeg Blue Bombers slotback Nic Demski to boost local health-care workers. Read More


Tory MP attends Parliament virtually after tighter vax rules

OTTAWA — After chiding the Liberals for “phoning it in” by not bothering to show up in the House of Commons, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says he has no qualms with a Manitoba MP who attends Parliament virtually. Read More



B.C. reports 437 new cases of COVID-19 and three new deaths

VICTORIA - British Columbia health officials say 10 cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 have now been identified in the province. Read More


As COVID-19 count rises in P.E.I., residents asked to limit travel and gatherings

CHARLOTTETOWN - Prince Edward Island's chief medical officer is asking residents to limit their trips off the Island, citing the province's growing number of COVID-19 cases directly related to travel. Read More


Two new cases of COVID-19 reported in N.L., 30 per cent of kids five to 11 vaccinated

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - Health officials in Newfoundland and Labrador are reporting two new cases of COVID-19 over the past two days. Read More


New Brunswick not planning more restrictions despite high COVID-19 case count

FREDERICTON - New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health says she doesn't see an immediate need for further health restrictions despite continuing high daily COVID-19 case numbers. Read More


COVID-19 resurgence forecast for Canada, worse if Omicron replaces Delta: Tam

OTTAWA - Canada is forecast to see a resurgence of COVID-19 and it could speed up even more if the Omicron variant replaces Delta, chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said Friday. Read More


Quebec reports more than 2,000 new COVID-19 infections for first time since January

MONTREAL - As Quebec reported more than 2,000 new COVID-19 infections for the first time in nearly 11 months, public health officials in Montreal said Friday they suspect the Omicron variant has spread in the city. Read More


Ontario to expand booster eligibility, urges smaller holiday gatherings, remote work

TORONTO - All adults in Ontario will become eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine booster next month, the province's top doctor announced Friday, warning that the highly transmissible Omicron variant may become the dominant strain in mere weeks. Read More


COVID-19 outbreak at Nova Scotia's St. FX university reaches total of 114 cases

HALIFAX - Nova Scotia reported 123 new cases of COVID-19 Friday, including 55 more cases linked to an ongoing outbreak at St. Francis Xavier University. Read More



New York's COVID surge is back - and so is its mask mandate

NEW YORK (AP) — Facing a cold-weather surge in COVID-19 infections, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Friday that masks will be required in all indoor public places unless the businesses or venues implement a vaccine requirement. Read More


Dutch give green light for Pfizer shots for children over 5

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Dutch government cleared the way Friday for children aged 5-11 to get vaccinated against COVID-19, extending its inoculation program to an age group that had the highest rate of infections in a recent surge. Read More

Greece: 11 held for attack on principal over virus checks

THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) — Police in northern Greece arrested 11 people Friday after a high school principal was handcuffed by alleged members of a self-styled vigilante group that opposes pandemic restrictions. Read More

Swiss gear up for tighter rules as COVID cases keep climbing

GENEVA (AP) — Facing a new surge in COVID-19 cases, the Swiss government is preparing to step up mask requirements and increase restrictions on people who haven’t been vaccinated or recovered from the illness, and might even shut restaurants, bars and fitness clubs. The count of daily deaths linked to the pandemic hit its highest level since January on Friday. Read More

UK says omicron to become its dominant variant within days

LONDON (AP) — The omicron variant of COVID-19 is spreading rapidly throughout Great Britain and is likely to become the dominant form of the disease across the country by the middle of this month, the U.K. Health Security Agency said Friday. Read More

Carlisle to miss Mavs matchup after positive COVID-19 test

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Pacers coach Rick Carlisle will miss Friday night's game against Dallas after testing positive for COVID-19. Assistant coach Lloyd Pierce will take over in Carlisle's absence. Read More


Pentagon considering COVID-19 booster mandate for troops

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon said Friday that there are “active discussions” within the department about making the COVID-19 vaccine booster shots mandatory for service members, even as thousands refuse or seek exemptions from the initial shot requirement. Read More



By the numbers: COVID-19 tests, cases, vaccinations, hospitalizations and more

By the numbers: COVID-19 tests, cases, vaccinations, hospitalizations and more

Read More


What's open, what's closed: Government, entertainment, sports and more during the pandemic

What's open, what's closed in Winnipeg during the coronavirus pandemic

Read More


Full coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic


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