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The Manitoba government has extended its target for third doses of COVID-19 vaccines as it faced another day of rising case counts.

The province is now recommending booster shots for residents of seniors homes and other congregate living centres for the elderly.

Third-dose eligibility had earlier been extended to residents of personal care homes – who require a higher level of medical care – front-line health-care workers, the immunocompromised and people living in First Nations communities.

“Immune responses among older people can be less robust, and they can wane more quickly over time,” Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province’s vaccination effort, said Wednesday.

Health officials announced 130 new COVID-19 cases and three additional deaths. The average daily case count has crept up, driven largely by the southern health region, where vaccination rates are lowest, as well as outbreaks in a few northern communities.

There were 226 active cases in Norway House district and 123 in and around Mathias Colomb Cree Nation.

In the north’s largest city, Thompson, health officials were dealing with an outbreak linked to an event they did not name.

“That seems to be under control at this point,” Dr. Jazz Atwal, deputy chief public health officer, said.

Atwal also released statistics that suggest most Manitoba public-sector workers are abiding by a requirement, in effect since last week, to either be fully vaccinated or undergo frequent rapid testing for COVID-19 if they deal directly with vulnerable populations.

Among civil servants, 99.8 per cent are either fully immunized or have agreed to regular testing. It’s a similar level in health care, where 182 of 42,000 direct-care workers have refused to both reveal their vaccination status and undergo testing.

In education, the province says 143 of roughly 41,000 workers are on unpaid leave for refusing to comply with the health orders, although others may have resigned.

Atwal said he was pleased.

“I am encouraged by the numbers ... I think they represent a real good uptake and compliance and adherence with public-health advice.”

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