WINNIPEG -- Manitoba has announced five more deaths related to COVID-19, along with 158 new cases of COVID-19 – the majority of which were in the Northern Health Region which now has the most active cases in the province.

The deaths reported on Wednesday include a man in his 50s from the Northern Health Region and a man in his 80s from Winnipeg.

Three of the deaths were linked to outbreaks in the province, including a man in his 80s whose death has been linked to the outbreak at the McCreary/Alonsa Health Centre, a man in his 70s from Winnipeg whose death has been linked to the outbreak at the Southeast Personal Care Home, and a woman in her 80s from Winnipeg whose death has been linked to the outbreak at the Charleswood Care Centre.

With the most recent deaths, the province's total number of deaths related to the virus is 753.

The 158 new cases on Wednesday brought the total number of COVID-19 cases in Manitoba to 26,695, which accounts for three cases that were removed due to a data correction. Manitoba's five-day test positivity rate is 9.6 per cent.

"Today's numbers continue to be encouraging – we are heading in a good direction," said Dr. Jazz Atwal, Manitoba's acting deputy chief public health officer. "The actions taken by Manitobans are making a difference. However it is too early to start a victory lap."

Atwal touted the latest round of health orders which have been extended until at least Jan. 22, saying they are necessary to keep the province from slipping back into the high number of cases and deaths that were seen in November.

The majority of Wednesday's cases were reported in the Northern health region, which had 70 new cases. This was followed by the Winnipeg health region which had 61 new cases, and a test positivity rate of 7.4 per cent.

The Northern Health Region now has more total active cases than Winnipeg – which has been a hotbed of COVID-19 cases during the second wave of the pandemic. As of Wednesday, the Northern Health Region had 1,184 active cases, while Winnipeg had 967 active cases.

The other cases reported on Wednesday include:

  • seven cases in the Interlake-Eastern Health Region;
  • 12 cases in the Prairie Mountain Health Region; and
  • eight cases in the Southern Health-Santé Sud Health Region.

The province said active cases have dropped to 2,928, while recoveries jumped to 23,014.

As of Wednesday morning, there were 289 people in hospital with COVID-19 - 119 of them have active cases, while 170 have COVID-19 but are no longer infectious.

The province said there were 36 COVID-19 patients in intensive care, including 19 patients who have active cases, and 17 patients who are no longer infectious but still require care.

There were 1,778 tests completed on Tuesday, bringing the total completed since early February to 443,683.