WINNIPEG -- While deaths related to COVID-19 continue to drop in Manitoba, the province saw a spike in cases in the Northern Health Region on Thursday.

The province reported two deaths related to COVID-19 on Thursday, including a man in his 60s from Winnipeg and a man in his 90s from the Prairie Mountain Health region whose death has been linked to the outbreak at the McCreary/Alonsa Health Centre.

This is the lowest number of daily deaths reported since December 30. The province said this brings the total number of deaths related to COVID-19 to 755.

The province saw cases spike on Thursday, with 261 cases reported. The majority of these cases are in the Northern Health Region, which reported 139 new cases.

"We're having a lot of activity in Lynn Lake, a little bit of activity in Thompson, and then there is a First Nations community of Garden Hill which has a lot of activity in relation to cases and an outbreak there as well," said Dr. Jazz Atwal, the acting deputy chief public health officer.

"I think case numbers will probably go up a little bit before they come down."

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The region has become a hotspot for COVID-19 cases in the past days, becoming the area with the most active cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba, with 1,297 active cases.

The region has outnumbered the Winnipeg Health Region, which for months had been the hardest hit by the virus, but in recent days has seen active cases begin to drop.

On Thursday, the Winnipeg Health Region reported 75 new cases, bringing the five-day test positivity rate in the city to 7.1 per cent.

Atwal said there is a possibility of keeping the Northern Health Region in Code Red, and easing restrictions in the rest of the province when health orders expire on Jan. 22.

"I think everything is on the table. It's going to be based on risk, based on epidemiology, based on a number of indicators," he said. "When we come to an idea of what we are going to be doing, that will be provided to the public."

The other cases reported on Thursday include:

  • 11 cases in the Interlake-Eastern health region;
  • 23 cases in the Prairie Mountain Health region; and
  • 13 cases in the Southern Health-Santé Sud health region.

These cases bring Manitoba's total number of cases since the pandemic started to 26,954, which accounts for two cases that were removed from the total due to a data correction.

Manitoba's five-day test positivity rate is now 10 per cent.

On Thursday, active cases continued to drop to 2,866, while recoveries hit 23,313. Atwal said the number of active cases is much lower than this, and said work is being done to correct it. He said the actual number of active cases is likely closer to 1,300.

There were 290 people in hospital as of Thursday morning, including 117 people who have active cases and 173 who are no longer infectious but still require care.

There were 37 patients in intensive care, including 16 people with active cases and 21 people who are no longer infectious but still need critical care.

The province completed 2,333 tests on Wednesday, bringing the total done since early February to 446,018.