Manitoba reports lowest test positivity rate since October as 70 new COVID-19 cases announced

Manitoba announced 70 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday and reported its lowest test positivity rate in more than four months.

Strict public health orders lifted on Pauingassi First Nation after outbreak that saw 1 in 4 infected

A lab technician works on genome sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, in this file photo. (Christophe Archambault/AFP/Getty Images)

Manitoba announced 70 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday and reported its lowest test positivity rate in more than four months.

That rate dropped from 4.6 per cent on Wednesday to 4.3 — the lowest announced since Oct. 20, when it was at the same spot. Winnipeg's rate dipped to 3.8 per cent from four a day earlier.

A man in his 70s from the Winnipeg health region died, bringing the province's total number of coronavirus-linked deaths to 888.

Officials also announced the province is considering relaxing a broad range of pandemic restrictions as early as next week.

WATCH | Proposed changes to pandemic rules on household visits:

Dr. Brent Roussin says Manitoba reopening must be cautious, even as COVID-19 numbers improve

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Duration 0:58
Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba's chief public health officer, said Thursday the province is mulling loosened pandemic restrictions, but must move slowly to prevent a spike in numbers.

Most of the new cases on Thursday are split between the Winnipeg health region, which has 31 cases, and the Northern Health Region, with 30, the province says in a news release.

There are seven new cases in the Interlake-Eastern health region and two in the Southern Health region, while the Prairie Mountain Health region reported no new infections.

No new cases of the more infectious B117 coronavirus variant first detected in the U.K. have been identified in Manitoba since one was announced on Tuesday, bringing the province's total to five.

Strict public health orders on Pauingassi First Nation, about 280 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, have been lifted now that the risk of COVID-19 spreading in that community has stabilized, the release says.

The fly-in community of about 500 people brought in stay-at-home orders at the start of this month when nearly one in every four people there tested positive for the illness.

All Manitoba's other public health orders are still in effect.

Vaccine doses received top 100K

The province has now received more than 100,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, according to its online dashboard.

Of the 102,360 doses, 69,060 — about two-thirds — have been administered, the dashboard says.

So far, 2.6 per cent of Manitobans over 18 have gotten both their shots, with 47,920 more immunizations planned over the next 28 days, the dashboard says.

There are now 196 COVID-19 patients in hospital in Manitoba. That's a drop of 11 since Wednesday, and the first time that number has dipped below 200 in months. Seventy-five of those people still have active COVID-19 cases, while the other 121 are no longer infectious.

There have been more than 200 COVID-19 patients in the province since at least Nov. 10, when Manitoba reported a tally of 207 in hospital.

However, it wasn't until December that the government started regularly reporting a total that includes both active and non-infectious cases — people who are considered to have recovered from COVID-19 but still need medical care. When that change happened, the total number of hospitalizations increased, because it included an extra group of people.

Twenty-six of the people now in hospital are in intensive care, down by three from Wednesday.

Three previously announced COVID-19 cases were removed from Manitoba's total on Thursday because of a data correction, the release says. That brings the number of cases identified in the province so far to 31,657.

Of those cases, 29,563 people are considered to have recovered from the illness, while 1,206 are still deemed active — a number health officials have said may be inflated by a data entry backlog.

There were 2,290 more COVID-19 tests done in Manitoba on Wednesday, bringing the total number of swabs completed in the province to 519,892 since early last February.

WATCH | Province considers relaxing pandemic rules:

Manitoba government considers relaxing COVID-19 rules

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Duration 28:24
Provincial officials give update on COVID-19 outbreak: Thursday, February 25, 2021.


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