WINNIPEG -- Manitoba health officials announced on Monday that there are 18 new cases of a COVID-19 variant in the province.

All 18 are the B.1.1.7 variant first discovered in the United Kingdom. One of the cases is in the Interlake-Eastern Health Region and 17 are in Winnipeg.

There have been 41 variants found in Manitoba.

Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer, said there is some concern about community spreading with the variants.

"Of these 41, we have nine that we can't link to either travel or other cases," said Roussin. "We have to be very cautious. The more we interact the more likely we're going to be exposed to these viruses."

He added there are currently 19 active variant cases. He also said there have been no deaths or hospitalizations related to the variants.

The province also announced no new deaths, meaning the death toll stays at 917. The last time no new COVID-19 deaths were reported was on Feb. 23, 2021.

Officials said 50 new cases were identified in the province, bringing the total to 32,793 since March 2020.

The five-day test positivity rate is 4.8 per cent in Manitoba and 3.5 per cent in Winnipeg.

Of the new cases, 31 are from Winnipeg, 16 in the Northern Health Region, three are from the Southern Health Region and both the Prairie Mountain Health Region and Interlake-Eastern Health Region had zero cases.

Roussin continued to urge people to follow the public health orders and also the best practices during the pandemic, such as washing your hands and physical distancing.

He said the province can't see the test positivity climb too much as that could impact the vaccine rollout.

"We're really in that race to get Manitobans vaccinated, but it's going to really impair to vaccinate Manitobans if we starting see test positivity rates again."

There are currently 908 active cases in the province and 30,968 people have recovered.

Manitoba has 56 people in hospital with active COVID-19 with 11 of those people in intensive care. There are an additional 95 people in hospital who are no longer infectious, but still require care; 12 are in ICU.

On Sunday, 1,516 tests were completed, pushing the total to 551,209 since February 2020.


Roussin once again on Monday was asked about the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine following some European countries putting the vaccine on pause due to blood clot concerns.

The top doctor said this shot is safe for people to receive.

"It's already being administered in this province," he said. "Just like any vaccine we administer, we follow it closely. I do not have any safety concerns with what we are administering in Canada."

Roussin said he will be receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine.

"I don't know the time necessarily, but it is this Friday," he said.