Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister leaves the convention centre after getting a COVID-19 vaccination from Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, in Winnipeg on April 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister leaves the convention centre after getting a COVID-19 vaccination from Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, in Winnipeg on April 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Military deployed to help Manitoba; Trudeau supports search for COVID-19 origin

The military help was requested last week as the province posted the highest daily case numbers, per capita, in the country

Members of the military are being deployed to Manitoba where surging COVID-19 cases have overwhelmed the health-care system, while the prime minister has put his support behind international efforts to understand how the global pandemic began.

“I know there are a lot of theories out there but we need to make sure we are getting to a full and complete airing of the facts to actually understand what happened,” Justin Trudeau said Thursday.

United States President Joe Biden ordered intelligence officials there Wednesday to redouble efforts to investigate the origins of COVID-19, including any possibility the trail might lead to a Chinese laboratory.

Trudeau said these efforts will not only ensure accountability but could also provide insight into how to protect the world from future pandemics.

Meanwhile, military members are arriving in Manitoba for a four-week mission in Manitoba, where public health orders have been extended to tackle high case numbers.

The province’s intensive-care units are so full that 23 critical patients have been transferred to Ontario for treatment.

“We are not in a position to reopen,” said Premier Brian Pallister.

The military help was requested last week as the province posted the highest daily case numbers, per capita, in the country.

There were 295 more cases and eight additional deaths reported in Manitoba Thursday.

Health officials across the country continued to urge people to get vaccinated so restrictions can be lifted.

Some provinces are also dealing with thousands of doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine that are due to expire in a few days.

Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu has written to provincial and territorial leaders encouraging them not to waste the doses and share with each other when they can.

It’s not clear how many doses are at risk of going to waste, but Ontario is scrambling to use some 45,000 AstraZeneca shots by the end of May, with another 10,000 set to expire in June.

Hajdu has offered federal support to help transfer doses between provinces.

Quebec officials announced that the province will shorten the delay between first and second doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to eight weeks from 16 weeks. Second doses are to start being administered at walk-in clinics on May 29.

The province has 148,100 doses of AstraZeneca in stock.

Quebec reported 436 new cases of COVID-19 and 10 more deaths as the number of hospitalizations continued to drop.

Elsewhere, Ontario announced 1,135 new cases and 19 more deaths linked to the virus, as Premier Doug Ford mulled whether to reopen schools.

Ford said he has written to experts and education stakeholders asking for input on whether it’s safe to have children back in classrooms.

Schools have been shut in Ontario since April amid a devastating third wave. But infections there have been steadily declining in recent weeksas more people get vaccinated.

A new report from Statistics Canada found that more people are getting on board with getting a shot.

The report, based on data collected by the Canadian Community Health Survey, found in January and February of this year that 82 per cent of Canadians aged 12 and older said they were somewhat or very likely to get the vaccine.

That was slightly up from 80 per cent at the end of last year.

The increase was largely seen in people aged 35 to 49 — up to 88 per cent from 77 per cent.

Vaccine willingness was highest in Newfoundland and Labrador and British Columbia.

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