Manitoba reports 154 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, nearly half in the north
6 more deaths reported as test positivity rates, hospitalizations drop ahead of possible rule changes Friday
Northern Manitoba saw another surge in COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, with nearly half of the province's 154 new cases of the illness.
The 70 new infections in the north come as the region continues to be hit hard by outbreaks in several small communities. Since last Monday, the Northern Health Region has reported 649 new COVID-19 cases.
Among the latest northern communities grappling with a COVID-19 outbreak is Garden Hill First Nation, where the military is now being sent to help. As of Tuesday, the First Nation had 290 active cases of the virus.
Wednesday's update comes one day after the province floated possible changes to the public health orders that expire on Friday.
"Overall, our numbers are headed in a good direction," Dr. Jazz Atwal, Manitoba's acting deputy chief public health officer, said at a news conference.
It's important for the province to make careful choices about what's allowed to reopen come Friday, he said.
"We need to take our time to do this, to do it right, so we don't have to go back and forth. Opening and closing, opening and closing is not something we want to do."
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The possible tweaks, which are being considered for all regions but the north, include allowing some small gatherings and scrapping restrictions on what can be sold in stores.
The growing northern caseload shows why it's crucial to ensure loosened restrictions don't lead to people letting their guard down, said Opposition NDP Leader Wab Kinew.
"It just really underlines the fact that this reopening has to be done right, and also that all of us across the province have to keep doing our part in terms of fighting the pandemic," Kinew said following Wednesday's news conference.
The remaining new cases announced Wednesday were in the Winnipeg health region (48), the Interlake-Eastern health region (18), the Southern Health region (10) and the Prairie Mountain Health region (eight), the province said in a news release.
Manitoba's five-day test positivity rate dropped from 9.9 to 9.5 per cent, while Winnipeg's dropped from 7.4 to 6.7 per cent, the release said. That's the lowest test positivity rate in Winnipeg since October.
Hospitalizations linked to COVID-19 in Manitoba also dropped slightly on Wednesday, with 273 in hospital and 36 in intensive care. That's down from 279 hospitalizations and 37 in intensive care on Tuesday.
A man in his 50s and a woman in her 60s from the Winnipeg health region are among the latest deaths.
The others announced Wednesday were people linked to outbreaks across the province: a man and a woman in their 60s, both linked to Winnipeg's Southeast Personal Care Home, and two women in their 90s — one linked to Winnipeg's Holy Family Home and the other connected to the McCreary/Alonsa Health Centre.
A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared at Winnipeg's Deer Lodge Centre, Lodge 2 West, the province says. Outbreaks at Winnipeg's Fred Douglas Lodge and the Grandview Personal Care Home are now over.
One previously announced case was removed from Manitoba's totals because of a data correction, the province's release said. That brings the province's total number of COVID-19 cases identified to 27,893.
A previously announced death was also removed from Manitoba's totals on Wednesday because of a data correction. A provincial spokesperson said that death was a man in his 80s from the Northern Health Region who recovered from COVID-19, and died following his recovery.
As of Wednesday, 23,968 people in Manitoba are considered to have recovered from COVID-19, the province says, while 3,137 cases are still considered active, though health officials have said that number is inflated by a data entry backlog.
On Tuesday, 1,911 COVID-19 tests were done in Manitoba, which brought the total number of swabs done since February to 456,861.
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