Manitoba reported 46 new cases of the UK COVID-19 variant Friday public health officials said, bringing the province’s total to over 100.
Of the confirmed cases of the B.1.1.7 variant of concern, 44 from Winnipeg health region and two from the Southern Health. The total number of confirmed cases of B.1.1.7 is 109 and B.1.351 first identified in South Africa is 14, bringing the total number of confirmed variant of concern cases to 123.
Cases of variants of concerns are announced following the identification of a positive test result once a screening and sequencing process is completed. They are not included in the new case totals announced daily.
Meanwhile, three more Manitobans – all men – passed away from COVID-19: one in his 60s from Northern, and two men in their 70s from Interlake-Eastern and Winnipeg. That brings the total number of deaths in people with COVID-19 to 932.
“Obviously, (similar numbers) are going to be repeating themselves on a regular basis”, said Dr. Jazz Atwal, acting deputy chief provincial public health officer, at Friday COVID-19 update. “I think next week we’re going to be looking at reporting things a little bit differently, that might provide a little more clarity, a little more real-time numbers in relation to the rates of concern as well. The numbers will look a little bit different next week.
“Worrisome is a strong word. I think we’re well aware of what was going to happen and we see it happening. We know at some point the variants of concern will become the dominant strain and we probably won’t be calling it the variant of concern at that point. It will just be calling it a COVID-19 event until another variant of concern happen to arise in Manitoba.”
Atwal said from a public health perspective they are putting a great amount of effort into reducing that risk of absolute case numbers increasing and they are continuing to do that. “That’s why we’re asking Manitobans to limit their interactions,” he said.
Roughly 32% of all cases in Manitoba are testing positive for a variant of concern, Atwal said.
The current five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate is 4.4% provincially and 3.6% in Winnipeg. One hundred and 16 new cases of the virus have been identified. However, two cases have been removed due to data correction. This brings the net-new number of cases today to 114 and the total number of lab-confirmed cases in Manitoba to 33,810.
The new cases include 51 from Winnipeg, 55 from Northern, five from Southern Health, three from Prairie Mountain and two Interlake-Eastern.
There are 1,169 active cases and 31,709 individuals have recovered from COVID-19. A total of 142 people remain in hospital including 31 in intensive care. Those numbers include active cases and patients no longer infectious but still requiring care.
Laboratory testing numbers show 1,959 tests were completed Thursday, bringing the total number of lab tests completed since early February 2020 to 573,567.
The outbreak has been declared over at Actionmarguerite St. Joseph personal care home in Winnipeg.
New orders in effect
As of Friday, minor adjustments to the public health orders came into effect in Manitoba including increasing gathering limits at outdoor public places to 25, up from 10 people as well as increasing gathering limits at weddings and funerals to 25, also up from 10 people. As well, changes include maintaining the capacity limits for retail stores at 50% with expanded the in-store limits to a 500-person capacity, whichever is lower, with other public health measures still in effect and relaxing rules for drive-in events to allow people to leave their vehicles while still observing public health measures.