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Manitoba confirmed 155 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday — the second consecutive day where its case count dropped below 200.

However, the province's death toll keeps rising, with 18 more fatalities reported.

Manitoba acting deputy chief provincial public health officer Dr. Jazz Atwal said officials need people to stay home during the holidays, as hospitalization rates remain high and health-care workers are pushed to the max.

"We're halfway through a pandemic and people need to realize that. This is a pivotal point," Atwal said during a teleconference with reporters Tuesday afternoon. "We need people to stay apart."

Atwal said the province is still working on its data to accurately reflect the number of cases of the virus that are currently active in Manitoba — listed at 4,382 as of Tuesday — versus the number of people who have recovered. The province is clearing a data backlog that should bring lower active case totals in the coming weeks.

"We're getting closer to the real number" of active cases of the virus, he said.

Fielding several questions about reported COVID-19 vaccine wastage in Manitoba, Atwal confirmed seven doses were thrown out. He said it's "quite common" in any immunization program for some vaccine doses to be wasted, but the province is working on plans to prevent it. The Pfizer Inc. vaccine, currently the only one approved for use in Canada, can only be kept at room temperature for six hours.

"We are working on ways to make sure this doesn’t happen," Atwal said.

Manitoba has been successful "100 per cent of the time" at getting six doses out of each vial, he said. More is on order, but a there is yet no confirmed date for a third shipment, officials said.

Meanwhile, 18 more Manitobans have died of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus — the majority were personal care home residents.

The fatalities include: a woman in her 80s, linked to an outbreak at Kin Place (Oakbank); a woman in her 80s, linked to an outbreak at Fairview Home (Brandon); a woman in her 90s, linked to an outbreak at Grandview Personal Care Home (Grandview); and a woman in her 100s from the Southern Health region.

The province announced an outbreak at Oakview Place in Winnipeg was linked to the deaths of a woman in her 80s, a man in his 80s, four women in their 90s, and a man in his 90s.

Other Winnipeg region deaths: a woman in her 90s linked to an outbreak at the N3E family medicine unit at Concordia Hospital; a man in his 80s linked to an outbreak at St. Norbert care home; a woman in her 90s; a woman in her 60s linked to an outbreak at Charleswood Care Centre; two men in their 70s; and a woman in her 80s.

Of the new cases announced Tuesday, 92 were in Winnipeg, 27 in Northern Health, 17 in Southern Health, 10 in Prairie Mountain, and nine in Interlake-Eastern.