Manitoba is extending its current public health orders for another two weeks, with some adjustments.
The orders will now expire on Jan. 22 and include exemptions to allow professional hockey teams to play games, in addition to training.
The orders will remain in place so officials can watch for possible increases in cases linked to the holidays, the province said in a news release Friday.
Public health officials have already confirmed more than 355 COVID-19 cases and nearly 1,900 contacts linked to holiday gatherings, and expect to see higher numbers in the coming days, said Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer.
In some cases, gatherings of more than two dozen people were reported.
Officials had to consider those numbers when considering new rules, Roussin said.
“We’re not really ready to make those changes. We’re still at risk in our system. We still have strain on the health-care system,” he said.
“Our numbers were going in the right direction, but now we’re at risk of reversing that, so we’ve got to keep focusing on those fundamentals.”
The public health orders, which include a ban on gatherings at homes of people from different households — including in private yards — and outdoor gatherings of more than five people, were previously set to expire at 11:59 p.m. on Friday.
Daily COVID-19 case numbers have dropped since the entire province moved to red-level restrictions in November, but on Friday, Roussin said test positivity rates and hospitalizations remain high.
The province announced 222 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, including 97 in the Winnipeg health region and 69 in the Northern Health Region.
There were also nine more deaths, the province said, including three that are linked to outbreaks at long-term care homes and one linked to an outbreak at Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre.
The government will start consulting with Manitobans next week to get feedback on potential future changes if numbers drop, the province said Friday.