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Health officials announced nine deaths linked to COVID-19 on Friday, this brings the province’s total to 726.

Five of the deaths are from the Winnipeg area, including two men in their 50s, a woman in her 50s linked to the outbreak at Health Science Centre unit GH4, a woman in her 60s from the Southeast Personal Care Home outbreak and a woman in her 80s.

Three deaths are from the Prairie Mountain Health Region. Two are women from the Fairview Personal Care Home outbreak, a woman in her 70s and a woman in her 90s, and then another woman in her 90s not linked to an outbreak.

The last death was a man in his 70s from the Northern Health Region.

The news was announced Friday by Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer, and Lanette Siragusa, the chief nursing officer for Shared Health.

Manitoba also added 222 new cases, meaning there have been 25,963 cases since the start of the pandemic.

Of the new cases, 97 are from the Winnipeg area, the Northern Health Region continues to see an increase in cases with 69 reported Friday, 27 are from the Prairie Mountain Health region, 16 from the Interlake-Eastern Health Region and 13 Southern Health Region.

The five-day test positivity rate is slightly up compared to Thursday at 10.1 per cent in Manitoba while Winnipeg is at 10.3 per cent.

There are 4,582 active cases, but health officials have previously said this number is lower due to a backlog, and 20,655 people have recovered.

There are currently 227 people in hospital with COVID-19, 31 of which are in intensive care. There is also 88 people in hospital who have recovered from the disease but still require care, four of those patients are in intensive care.

On Thursday, 2,386 tests were performed bringing the total to 435,227 since early February 2020.