Southern Health region sees biggest chunk of Manitoba’s 64 new COVID-19 cases

Manitoba reported 64 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, including 23 in the Southern Health region.

That area is home to communities with some of the province’s lowest vaccination rates. Of its latest infections, all but four are not fully immunized against the illness, the government said in a news release.

The province also reported 15 new cases in both the Winnipeg and Northern health regions, six in the Prairie Mountain Health region and five in the Interlake-Eastern health region.

Overall, nearly 69 per cent of Manitoba’s latest infections are among people not fully vaccinated against the illness, the release says.

There are now 62 people hospitalized after getting COVID-19, the release says, down by seven since Wednesday. That includes 12 in intensive care, down by three.

Ninety-two per cent of those hospitalized with active COVID-19 cases — meaning the patients are still considered infectious — have not been fully vaccinated, the province’s online vaccine dashboard says. None of the people in ICU with active cases are fully vaccinated.

As of midnight, there were a total of 90 patients in Manitoba’s intensive care units, including those with COVID-19 and those in ICU for other reasons, a Shared Health spokesperson said.

That’s still well above the critical care program’s pre-pandemic baseline capacity of 72 patients.

Eighty-four per cent of eligible Manitobans now have at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, while 79 per cent are fully immunized.

The province also provided details on its two latest COVID-19 deaths, which were initially reported on the province’s coronavirus dashboard on Wednesday.

A person gets a COVID-19 vaccine administered in this file photo. The largest proportion of Manitoba’s latest cases of the illness are in its Southern Health region, which has some of the province’s lowest vaccination rates. (Matt Rourke/The Associated Press)

The people who died were a woman in her 70s from the Interlake-Eastern health region who contracted the delta coronavirus variant and a man in his 80s from the Winnipeg health region who had an unspecified variant, the release says.

Manitoba’s total number of deaths linked to the illness is 1,203.

Cases rise west of Manitoba

While this province appears to be in the early stages of a fourth COVID-19 wave, it’s still not faring as poorly as some of its western neighbours, which are seeing a spike in cases.

On Thursday, Premier Kelvin Goertzen was asked if governments in Alberta or Saskatchewan have reached out to see if Manitoba would take some of their ICU patients, amid surges in case numbers there.

Both of those provinces, as well as Ontario, took a number of Manitoba’s sickest COVID-19 patients during the peak of the pandemic’s third wave in this province.

“If we had the ability to offer support, I’d think that we’d want to,” Goertzen said at a news conference, adding that officials will still need to keep a close eye on Manitoba’s situation to make sure it stays under control.

“Things change quickly. And so I think we are in a good place right now compared to other provinces, but I also know that things can change day to day and that we need to be mindful of that.”

Variants climb, test positivity rates drop

Manitoba also reported 63 more COVID-19 cases that have now been linked to coronavirus variants of concern, the province’s online variant dashboard says. All but two are still listed as unspecified variants, while infections linked to the alpha and delta variants each climbed by one.

Of Manitoba’s 599 active COVID-19 cases, 370 have been identified as the more contagious strains.

Meanwhile, the province’s five-day test positivity rate dropped to 2.5 per cent, the release says, down from 2.9 on Wednesday. 

In Winnipeg, the rate is now 1.2 per cent. The last time the capital city’s rate was updated was on Monday, when it was 1.6.

Manitoba did 2,743 more COVID-19 tests on Wednesday. 

To date, 57,724 people have been deemed recovered after testing positive for the illness.

New school cases

Manitoba is also reporting an additional nine cases among students in its schools, the province’s online school COVID-19 dashboard says. 

Four of those cases are in southwestern Manitoba: three at O’Kelly School in Shilo and one at Riverheights School in Brandon.

There’s also one new case at Powerview School in southeastern Manitoba and two at Clearspring Middle School in Steinbach.

Whyte Ridge Elementary and Chief Peguis Middle School in Winnipeg have also each reported a new COVID-19 case, the dashboard says.

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