Dr. Jazz Atwal to give Manitoba’s latest COVID-19 update at 12:30 p.m.

Manitoba’s acting deputy chief public health officer is scheduled to give an update on COVID-19 in the province Wednesday afternoon.

CBC News will live stream the news conference with Dr. Jazz Atwal here at 12:30 p.m. CT.

That update will come just hours after Health Canada announced it had approved a second COVID-19 vaccine for use in Canada.

The federal department has given the green light to Moderna’s vaccine after reviewing the company’s clinical trial data. The approval clears the way for thousands of doses to arrive in the country by the end of the month.

Isolated communities, including First Nations, are expected to have access to the Moderna vaccine. Because it doesn’t require temperatures as cold as the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which was approved two weeks ago, it’s considered a better option to transport further away from main distribution hubs.

Manitoba saw a drop in new COVID-19 cases this week, with the daily new case numbers falling below 200 on Monday and Tuesday for the first time since early November. Tuesday’s 155 new cases of the illness caused by the novel coronavirus continued a four-day downward trend.

The province also reported its lowest test positivity rate in over a month at 11.5 per cent on both Monday and Tuesday.

The four COVID-19 deaths announced Monday marked the lowest single-day increase since the start of November, but another 18 fatalities were posted on Tuesday.

Earlier that day, Premier Brian Pallister urged people not to relax on following public health orders after some Manitoba health-care workers got their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine last week.

He suggested 90 days — or about three months — as a realistic target for when the vaccine could be available to the province’s general population.

Atwal warned on Monday that despite a few days of low COVID-19 numbers, Manitobans need to stay vigilant and continue following public health orders.

“We can’t let these numbers lull us into a false sense of security,” especially during the holiday season, he said.

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