There are 476 new cases of COVID-19 and 12 more deaths in Manitoba, the province says, bringing the death toll to 248.
“These are Manitobans who are missed and are loved,” said Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin.
The number of patients in hospital due to the illness has declined slightly to 292, down from 296 yesterday. Active cases in intensive care are also down five to 47.
The five-day provincial test positivity rate ties the record of 14.2 per cent, which was set less than a week ago. Winnipeg’s test positivity rate is 13.9 per cent.
The announcement comes nearly two weeks after all of Manitoba was moved into code red, or the critical level, under its pandemic response system, ushering in a partial lockdown that closed places of worship, theatres, salons, gyms and a range of other non-essential businesses.
More stringent restrictions came into effect on Friday, banning private indoor gatherings, with few exceptions, and restricting the sale of non-essential items at businesses permitted to remain open to in-store shopping.
Five of the people who died were in the Southern Health region. One of the deaths is someone from the Northern Health Region, and another is from the Prairie Mountain Health region.
There were five deaths in the Winnipeg health region, including two linked to hospital outbreaks.
The province is bolstering its contact tracing capacity using an automated calling system that will expand current monitoring methods, Roussin said.
Previous positive cases will be asked about testing, isolation and other public health guidelines in a question-and-answer format that people can respond to using the phone keypad.
The initial rollout will be focused on checking in with people who tested positive and are at or near the end of their mandated isolation period. There are “a lot” of people that are beyond their incubation period but remain listed in the active case totals, he said, and this should help deal with that backlog.
Despite a slight decline in the number in hospital, Roussin said health-care workers remain overwhelmed by the consistent pressure from high case numbers and people in hospital.
“Our health-care system is being pushed to its capacity,” he said. “Our health-care system can’t sustain levels of cases like this much longer.”
Before code red restrictions can be lifted, there has to be a clear decline in daily cases, test positivity and numbers in hospital, Roussin said.
“At this point we have to focus on getting these numbers down.”