Dr. Jazz Atwal, the acting deputy chief provincial public health officer for Manitoba, answers a question at a COVID-19 briefing on Dec. 16, 2020. (CTV News Photo Glenn Pismenny)

Provincial health officials have announced there are eight new deaths due to COVID-19.

There have been 748 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Officials did note one previously announced death has been removed due to a data error, and the person is in fact still alive.

Five of the deaths are from the Winnipeg area including two men in their 70s, one of which is from the outbreak at the Southeast Personal Care Home, one man in his 80s, and two women in their 90s, one from the Convalescent Home of Winnipeg and the other from the Bethania Mennonite Personal Care Home.

The other three deaths include a man in his 50s from the Northern Health Region, a woman in her 80s from the Interlake-Eastern Health Region, and a woman in her 70s from the Priaire Mountain Health Region who is linked to McCreary/Alonsa Home outbreak. 

Manitoba also added 92 new cases, bringing the total to 26,540.

The five-day test positivity rate is 10.1 per cent in Manitoba and 8.4 per cent in Winnipeg.

There were 44 cases from Winnipeg, 22 from the Prairie Mountain Health Region, nine cases each from the Interlake-Eastern Health Region and the Northern Health Region, and eight cases from the Southern Health Region.

This is the first time Manitoba has had fewer than 100 new cases since Oct. 19 and Dr. Jazz Atwal, the acting deputy chief provincial public health officer, said the province continues to be on the right trajectory.

"It's significant, it's encouraging," said Atwal, "It's that testament to that hard work and dedication of Manitobans to adhere to the orders, to take on that messaging, to make those sacrifices."

There are 3,100 active cases and 22,692 people have recovered.

There are 138 people in hospital with COVID-19, 21 of which are in intensive care. There are also 164 people who had COVID-19 and have recovered but are still in hospital as they require care, 14 of which are intensive care.

Atwal added as hospital numbers continue to lower, it means some procedures are starting up again like they were before COVID.

"These restrictions and what people are doing is really paying off to allow that acute care system to kind of return to some of those things before it was managing COVID. So again, those surgeries that got cancelled, those medical procedures that got cancelled."

He said it is a great feeling seeing the numbers come down and noted everything is going in the right direction.

On Monday, 1,368 tests were completed bringing the total to 441,905 since February 2020.