The first case of the B.117 variant of COVID-19, also known as the U.K. variant and one of the “variants of concern” the province has been tracking for weeks now, has been found in the province, public health officials announced Tuesday.
Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer, slid in the news about the variant during a news conference on Tuesday morning alongside Premier Brian Pallister. The pair were announcing the new public health orders, which will come into place on Friday.
Roussin revealed the case was first flagged on Jan. 22 when an individual returned from international travel. Manitoba’s top doctor said he got confirmation of the case from the National Microbiology Laboratory late Monday night.
The infected individual, who has since recovered, had five contacts and to date, none of them have turned into a case.
The news of the variant arriving in Manitoba comes after the province posted a fourth consecutive day of double-digit new cases with 75. Fifty-one of those cases come in Winnipeg, where the test positivity rate sits at 4.3%, up slightly from Monday. The province’s test positivity rate fell once again, down to 5.4%, the lowest it has been since Oct. 20.
Northern Health 16 additional cases, while Southern Health had five, Interlake-Eastern had three and Prairie Mountain posted as shut out with no new cases on Tuesday.
There were three more deaths announced by Roussin, including a Prairie Mountain man in his 60s, and two Winnipeg women, one in her 60s and another in her 70s. None of the latest fatalities was linked to ongoing outbreaks in the province.
Manitoba’s death toll now rests at 853.
Outbreaks were declared over at Beacon Hill Lodge and Charleswood Care Centre in Winnipeg, at Rock Lake Hospital in Crystal City and at Northern Spirit Manor in Thompson.
Hospitalizations, meanwhile, dropped by five to 266, while those currently in intensive care fell by one to 33. Both figures include active cases of the virus and those who are non-infectious.
The province’s active caseload, which was slashed in half on Monday but remains overstated due to a data entry backlog, is now at 1,597. Reported recoveries now stand at 27,910.
Manitoba has seen 30,360 COVID-19 infections since last March.
Laboratory numbers show 1,322 tests were completed Monday, bringing the total number completed since early February 2020 to 492,213.