New death linked to COVID-19 variant in Manitoba; 295 cases announced Friday

Manitoba health officials announced one new death related to COVID-19 on Friday.

The death is linked to the B.1.1.7 variant and was a man in his 70s from the Winnipeg area.

There have been 974 deaths in Manitoba linked to COVID.

The province's new case count continued to stay high with 295 new cases announced. However, five previously announced cases were removed due to a data correction.

Manitoba's case count has hit 38,729 since March 2020.

The five-day test positivity rate is 7.2 per cent province-wide and 8.2 per cent in Winnipeg.

Winnipeg continued to have the highest number of new cases with 187, followed by the Prairie Mountain Health Region at 50. The Southern Health Region had 29 cases, 17 cases came from the Northern Health Region and 12 cases were in the Interlake-Eastern Health Region.

Manitoba has 2,375 active cases and 35,380 people have recovered from the virus.

Another 201 variant cases were added in the province, with 830 active cases and 1,258 people recovered.

Dr. Jazz Atwal, the deputy chief provincial public health officer, said it will take some time before the province sees the current health orders reflected in the daily numbers, but he doesn't anticipate the levels to climb as high as they did during the second wave.

"That's a guess. I think when we are looking at our seven-day averages, our numbers have increased by 33 per cent per week," said Atwal.

The B.1.1.7 variant is the most active in Manitoba with 1,312 cases and another 754 variant cases are unspecified. The B.1.351 variant once again stayed at 20 cases and the P.1 variant stayed at nine cases.

Hospitals in the province have 87 people who have active COVID-19, including 24 people in intensive care. Another 62 people in hospital no longer have active COVID-19, but still require care, including 15 people in ICU.

Atwal noted that ICU numbers have been increasing by eight per cent over the past three to four weeks.

He also said younger people are starting to go to hospital with COVID-19.

"So in the last 14 days, I believe there was close to 20 admissions in 40-year-olds to the hospital with COVID. So that's a big number," he said. "We definitely know what's circulating right now is much more communicable."

On Thursday, 3,526 tests were performed, bringing the total to 660,625 since February 2020.

Atwal said testing numbers have increased over the past few weeks.

"This will help us in our fight against COVID-19 and the variants of concern," said Atwal.

He is reminding people to only be tested if they are symptomatic, if they are a close contact, or if they have been directed to do so by a health expert.

Even though case counts have been high and are expected to be high for the next few weeks, Atwal said there is hope on the horizon as more vaccine is coming to the province and over the next month, more than 300,000 people are projected to be vaccinated.

"We're seeing case counts decrease in those that are vaccinated, we're seeing the risk of hospitalization decrease in those that are vaccinated," said Atwal. "Let's look forward. Let's see what we need to do right now for the next four weeks, to really limit those interactions, limit those hospitalizations, and get as much vaccine out there."