59 new COVID-19 cases and six deaths reported in Manitoba Wednesday
WINNIPEG -- Manitoba reported 59 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday continuing a streak of relatively low numbers in the province.
"Our numbers continue to trend in a good direction,” said acting deputy chief provincial public health officer Dr. Jazz Atwal at a news conference.
On Monday, the province announced 53 new infections, the lowest number since October.
However, the optimism is mixed with concern, after the province revealed on Tuesday it detected the UK variant for the first time in Manitoba.
The announcement came at the same time the province said it would ease restrictions Friday.
“The hard work of Manitobans is paying off and has made it possible for further reopening,” said Atwal. “We can’t let up, we have more work ahead of us.”
The province reported six deaths Wednesday.
They include a man in his 70s from the Northern Health Region, a woman in her 70s from Southern Health, as well as three women and one man, all in their 80s from Winnipeg.
Of the new cases, 31 are in the Northern Health Region, 21 are in Winnipeg, four in the Southern Health Region, two in the Prairie Mountain Health Region and one in the Interlake-Eastern Health Region.
The five-day test positivity rate is 5.2 per cent in the province and 4.1 per cent in Winnipeg.
Public health officials said 1,610 tests were completed on Tuesday, bringing the total number to 493,825 since February 2020.
According to the COVID-19 bulletin, 255 people are in hospital with 34 in the ICU.
As of Wednesday, 859 Manitobans have died of COVID-19.
RAMPING UP VARIANT SCREENING
With the UK variant now in Manitoba, Atwal said the province plans to ramp up screening for other variants.
Right now, the province only screens positive COVID-19 tests for the UK variant.
It sends samples off to the National Microbiology Laboratory to test for other variants like the Brazilian and South African.
“Over the next few days, we’re going to be able to screen for those as well,” said Atwal Wednesday. “There is a lot of genomic sequencing done and we’re going to continue to build on those efforts.”
LIMITING GROUP SIZES ON LUNAR NEW YEAR
The province also issued a reminder to Manitobans celebrating the Lunar New Year to keep group sizes small.
“The Lunar New Year is starting on Thursday and Friday and is celebrated by the Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese communities. Usually, this celebration sees families and friends visiting,” said Atwal.
2021 is the Year of the Ox.
Limits on group sizes aren’t changing in the next round of public health orders. Manitobans can have two designated visitors to their homes, while outdoor gatherings are capped at five people.
“Large public gatherings are not allowed,” said Atwal.