WINNIPEG -- Health officials announced six new deaths related to COVID-19 on Thursday.

This has pushed the province's death toll to 667.

Four of the deaths come from the Winnipeg area. The deaths include:

  • A woman in her 70s;
  • Two women in their 80s. One death is from the Convalescent Home outbreak and the other from the Charleswood Care Centre outbreak; and
  • A woman in her 90s from the Poseidon Care Centre outbreak.

The other two deaths are a woman in her 70s from the Prairie Mountain Health Region and a man in his 80s from the Southern Health Region.

Manitoba also added 187 new cases of COVID-19, meaning there have been 24,700 cases since the start of the pandemic.

The five-day test positivity rate in the province is 11.2 per cent, while it sits at 10.4 per cent in Winnipeg.

Winnipeg had the highest number of new cases at 91, while the Northern Health Region had 38. The Southern Health Region had 33 new cases, 18 came from the Interlake-Eastern Health Region and seven came from the Prairie Mountain Health Region.

There are currently 4,505 active cases and 19,528 people have recovered.

There are 247 people in hospital that have COVID-19 and there are another 90 who have recovered but still need care.

There are 33 people in ICU with COVID-19 and another four who have recovered but still require care in intensive care.

On Wednesday, 2,083 tests were performed, bringing the total to 421,630 since early February.

During a teleconference on Thursday, Dr. Jazz Atwal, the acting chief provincial public health officer, was asked what rules Manitobans should be following as more embark to enjoy the winter weather.

"These are outdoor activities. I think from a public health perspective we've always stated that outdoor activities are always better than indoor activities," said Atwal.

He added it is best if people to follow the public health orders such as proper hand hygiene and avoiding large interactions with other people and stay in groups of five or smaller.

Atwal was also asked what he makes of smaller test numbers over the past few days and what this might mean in Manitoba.

"Typically after a holiday or after a weekend there is a bit of a dip and then we get the midweek hump a little bit and where it kind of boosts up."

He said right now it doesn't appear that other viruses are circulating through the province and while people are still testing positive for COVID-19, it looks like circulation is lower for the disease as well.

"Our case numbers are coming down, our hospitalization numbers are coming down. So it all kind of points to the fact that there likely is less COVID circulating."

Despite the good news, Atwal called this a "short sample size" and people need to cautious. He encourages people to get tested if they have any symptoms develop and he is reminding people to stay home as much as possible especially if you are ill. 

The teleconference is the final update on COVID-19 for 2020. Due to the New Year’s Day holiday, the province will not be releasing an update on COVID-19 cases on Friday. A bulletin about cases and hospitalizations will be released on Saturday and Sunday, with the first media availability for health officials coming Monday, Jan. 4. 

The province released its daily update on the vaccine Thursday afternoon.

Since the vaccine has arrived in Manitoba, 3,400 people have been immunized.

Officials said the final steps are underway for the RBC Convention Centre super site which will see people be vaccinated there starting on Jan. 4.

The first round of vaccinations in the new year will happen between Jan. 4 and 10, and so far 2,900 people have signed up for appointments.

There are 3,200 spots available still and the second round of the dose will happen between Jan. 25 and 31.

At the moment, health-care workers who are in direct contact with patients or meet specific criteria are the only ones who are eligible for the vaccine.