Manitoba reports 6 COVID-19 deaths, 251 new cases
4 deaths linked to more contagious variants, including 3 connected to B.1.1.7, or alpha, strain
Six more people in Manitoba have died after getting COVID-19, including four who had contracted one of the more contagious coronavirus variants, the province says in a news release.
Three of those people had the B.1.1.7 variant first seen in the U.K.: two men in their 70s — one from the Interlake-Eastern health region and one from the Winnipeg health region — and a woman in her 80s from the Winnipeg health region, the release said.
The woman was linked to a COVID-19 outbreak at the Beacon Hill Lodge Personal Care Home, where one worker and three other residents were also infected, the province's website says.
The B.1.1.7 strain, also known as the alpha variant in the World Health Organization's new naming system, now accounts for roughly one-quarter of Manitoba's active COVID-19 cases, according to the province's online variant dashboard.
A man in his 60s from the Southern Health region died after contracting a variant that's still listed as unspecified, the province said.
The other deaths reported Thursday were two women: one in her 70s from the Winnipeg health region and one in her 90s from the Southern Health region, the release said.
The woman in her 90s was linked to an outbreak at the Carman Memorial Hospital, where nine staff and 11 patients have been infected. Fifteen cases are still active and three people have died, the province's website says.
Reopening plan unveiled as variants climb
Earlier Thursday, Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin and Premier Brian Pallister unveiled the first small glimpse at Manitoba's reopening plan.
The strategy will hinge largely on vaccination rates for both first and second doses, though few details were released.
As of Thursday afternoon's update, 70.2 per cent of adults in Manitoba have had at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, the province's online vaccine dashboard says. For all Manitobans 12 and up, that figure is 67.8 per cent.
The province also announced slightly eased pandemic restrictions this week that will allow some outdoor gatherings starting Saturday.
The number of COVID-19 cases linked to variants jumped by 348 on Thursday after the province did not give an update on Wednesday because of a technical glitch.
That increase included 150 more cases of the alpha variant, one more case of the B.1.617 variant — a strain first identified in India — and 197 more cases of variants still listed as unspecified, the variant dashboard says.
Manitoba also reported 251 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, with more than half — 142 — in the Winnipeg health region.
The rest are split between the Northern Health Region (which reported 41), the Southern Health region (35), the Prairie Mountain Health region (17) and the Interlake-Eastern health region (16), the release said.
Hospitalizations drop slightly, day services still paused
There are now 316 Manitobans hospitalized after getting COVID-19, down by seven since Wednesday.
That includes 94 patients in intensive care, 16 of whom are under age 40, a spokesperson for Manitoba Shared Health said in an email.
Most of the patients — 64 — are in Manitoba, though 27 are still in Ontario, two are in Alberta and one is in Saskatchewan, the province said.
Two additional COVID-19 patients were transferred on Wednesday to hospitals in Thunder Bay and London, Ont., the release said.
A total of 23 patients have been brought back to Manitoba after being moved out of province for critical care, including two people who returned on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, Shared Health Chief Nursing Officer Lanette Siragusa said two patients who had been transferred to hospitals in Ontario had died, bringing the total of Manitoba COVID-19 patients who have died out of province to four.
None of those deaths have been included in Manitoba's daily COVID-19 updates, a Shared Health spokesperson said in an email Thursday.
Meanwhile, day services funded by Community Living DisAbility Services for adults with intellectual disabilities will remain suspended for another two weeks in Winnipeg because of continuing concerns caused by the pandemic's third wave, the release said. Those programs will stay paused until June 25.
There will be some exceptions in cases where people's safety can't be managed in their residential care facility or at home during the day, the release said.
An outbreak at Winnipeg's St. Norbert Personal Care Home is now over, Thursday's release said. The province's website says that site saw five cases of COVID-19: three among staff and two in residents. Everyone has been deemed recovered.
Manitoba's five-day test positivity rate sank slightly to 11.1 per cent, down from 11.5 on Wednesday. In Winnipeg, that rate dropped to 11.6 per cent from 12.3.
The province has identified 53,650 COVID-19 cases during the pandemic, including 48,963 people considered to have recovered and 3,600 cases still deemed active, the release said.