Manitoba reports 2nd COVID-19 death tied to coronavirus variant, 1st variant case in north

Another death has been tied to more contagious coronavirus variants in Manitoba, and the first case of a variant has been identified in the province's north.

Active variant caseload rises from 101 to 154 in 2 days; 20.7% of adults at least partly vaccinated

Just over 1,950 tests were done in Manitoba on Monday. So far, 951 people have died of COVID-19 in Manitoba. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

Another death has been tied to one of the more contagious coronavirus variants in Manitoba, and the first case of a variant has been identified in the province's north.

Only two deaths so far have been linked to variants in the province, but that could change if the number of variant cases continues to rise.

Another 67 variant cases were announced Tuesday, bringing the province's total to 479. The province only reports variant cases on its provincial dashboard from Tuesday to Saturday, so the uptick represents at least two days of data.

There are now 154 active variant cases — just shy of 11 per cent of all active cases in Manitoba — and 323 people have recovered.

Manitoba also announced 135 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday and two more deaths related to the illness, including a Winnipeg man in his 60s. His death is linked to the B117 coronavirus variant originally detected in the U.K.

The other death was a man in his 80s from Winnipeg connected with an outbreak at Holy Family Centre.

Tuesday's update comes one day after Manitoba Chief Provincial Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin suggested more restrictions would be coming soon. His comments came in light of concerns over variants spreading, and rising case numbers and test positivity rates.

That rate has risen nearly two percentage points in two weeks, and the seven-day average for new daily cases is about 131, compared to 78 two weeks ago.

Manitoba's test positivity rate Tuesday was six per cent, down slightly from Monday. That rate is 5.7 per cent in Winnipeg.

Close contacts of positive cases are on the rise, and recent cases have been tied to play dates, house parties and private gatherings, according to Roussin.

Coming restrictions could include an outdoor mask mandate and clamping down on gathering restrictions, he said.

Of the new COVID-19 cases announced Tuesday, the majority — 89 — were reported in Winnipeg, and 34 were identified in the Northern Health Region. Another five were reported in Prairie Mountain Health, five in Southern Health and two in the Interlake-Eastern health region.

There are 138 people in Manitoba hospitals due to COVID-19, up from 135, and the number in intensive care remains at 33.

There are 1,438 active cases in Manitoba.

The province also reported a new outbreak has been declared at Fairview Personal Care Home in Brandon.

Battle continues on First Nations

A number of First Nation communities are faring better than a few weeks ago, but at least some in the north are still battling high case counts, says the medical advisor to Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak's health agency.

"A couple of them have had significant outbreaks and that's what we've seen again for quite some time," Dr. Michael Routledge, medical advisor to MKO, said during a conference call Tuesday.

"Once COVID gets established in one of our communities, it explodes."

Those outbreaks are tied to overcrowding and other housing issues in First Nation communities, he said.

Routledge said test positivity rates also remain "stubbornly" high in some of the northern First Nations MKO represents — near the 15 per cent range — and concerns are growing as variants spread in the province.

Eighty-nine per cent of the variant cases to date in Manitoba are the B117 strain. About four per cent are the B1351 variant, originally detected in South Africa, and seven per cent require further confirmation.

Most have surfaced in Winnipeg. Half are linked to close contacts and a quarter have no known source. The rest are tied to travel or require more investigation.

"Just a reminder that while the vaccine is great … we're not anywhere near the point of having effective herd immunity yet," said Routledge. "It really speaks to … the need to follow the public health recommendations."

'Phenomenal' vaccine uptake

In mid-March, Manitoba's First Nations pandemic response team set a goal of getting 100,000 vaccine doses into arms within 100 days.

Fifteen First Nation communities are waiting to receive vaccine as part of the latest shipments, but are expecting first doses this week, said Melanie Mackinnon, who leads the team.

"Anecdotally, what we're hearing from our communities is uptake in and around 70-plus per cent, which is phenomenal," said Mackinnon. "I've heard several stories over even this past weekend of 100 per cent uptake of what they had access to with respect to their allocation."

So far, 16.8 per cent of on-reserve First Nations populations have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 13.1 per cent had off-reserve.

That's compared to 20.7 per cent of the general population of adult Manitobans who have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, the province says, up from 20.1 per cent on Monday. 

So far, 951 people have died of COVID-19 in Manitoba.


  • A previous version of this story stated the provincial test positivity rate was 6.2 per cent Tuesday. In fact, the rate on Tuesday was six per cent.
    Apr 13, 2021 5:10 PM CT


Bryce Hoye


Bryce Hoye is an award-winning journalist and science writer with a background in wildlife biology and interests in courts, climate, health and more. He recently finished up a stint as a producer for CBC's Quirks & Quarks. He is the Prairie rep for OutCBC. Story idea? Email

With files from Erin Brohman