WINNIPEG -- Health officials announced 13 new deaths related to COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic is 451.

Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer, made the announcement.

The majority of the deaths happened in the Winnipeg region, including:

  • Six people connected to the outbreak at the Charleswood Care Centre including two women in their 80s, two men in their 80s, one woman in her 90s and one man in his 90s;
  • Two deaths linked to the Park Manor Care Home outbreak, a man and woman both in their 80s;
  • A man in his 70s; and
  • A man in his 80s.

One death is a man in his 70s from the Interlake-Eastern Health Region and the other two are both from the Southern Health Region, a man and a woman both in their 70s. The woman was from the Villa Youville Personal Care Home outbreak.

The province also added 293 new cases, pushing the total to 19,947 since early March.

Officials did note one previously announced case has been removed due to a data error.

Winnipeg had 152 new cases, there are 49 new cases in the Southern Health Region, 41 in the Northern Health Region, 39 in the Interlake-Eastern Health Region and 12 in the Prairie Mountain Health Region.

The current five-day test positivity rate is 13.3 per cent in Manitoba and 13.9 per cent in Winnipeg.

There are 5,380 active cases throughout the province and 14,116 people have recovered.

Hospitals in the province have 298 people who have COVID-19, 43 of which are in intensive care.

On Thursday, 2,558 tests were performed, bringing the total to 380,664 since early February.

Roussin said if the test positivity rate was also dropping this would be a good sign, but that isn't the case.

"So I think it is mostly demand and people going for testing. So I would take this opportunity to encourage Manitobans, Winnipeggers, if you're having symptoms, do get tested and soon as possible, do self-isolate, along with your family if you have any symptoms, even mild symptoms," said Roussin. "We're still in a critical juncture here. So we want cases identified very early, so we can get everyone self-isolating and testing is a big component of that."

He did mention there are in plans in place to help make it easier for people to get tested, noting the opening of the testing location at the Garrick, to help with foot traffic in areas that were hit harder.

Roussin was also asked why Winnipeg continues to have a steady case count compared to other parts of the province that have seen cases lower over the past two weeks.

He said one of the reasons has to do with the vulnerable populations in the city.

"We mentioned the lower income quintiles, the homeless shelter population, (it’s) much more difficult to have these orders benefit them,” Roussin said. “We also saw a much more widespread community-based transmission from the outset in Winnipeg, and so that, in and of itself, takes even longer to have these type of restrictions (show an) effect."

If those populations are being hit harder than others, Roussin was asked if they should be on the higher priority list for people to receive the vaccine first when it is more widely available.

"These are all things that are being considered. You know that the issue is, of course, that the vaccines will be scarce, and so we have a lot of different people on that priority group, a lot of people that could be considered in that priority group, but it'll come down to who don't we immunize then."