WINNIPEG -- Manitoba health officials announced five new deaths linked to COVID-19 on Tuesday.

These most recent deaths, which were reported by Dr. Jazz Atwal, Manitoba's acting deputy chief public health officer, have pushed the provincial death toll to 659.

The deaths include four people from the Winnipeg area, a woman in her 70s, a woman in her 80s whose death is connected to the Holy Family Home outbreak, a man in his 80s whose death is connected to the outbreak at the Oakview Extended Care Facility, and a woman in her 90s whose death is connected to the Convalescent Home outbreak.

The other death is a woman in her 90s from the Southern Health Region, and was linked to the Portage District General Hospital outbreak.


Atwal also announced 133 new cases bringing the total to 24,385 since early March.

The five-day test positivity rate is 12.4 per cent in Manitoba and 12.1 per cent in Winnipeg.

Winnipeg had the majority of these new cases, with 97 reported in the city as of Tuesday. There are 22 cases from the Southern Health Region, six from the Interlake-Eastern Health Region, five from the Prairie Mountain Health Region and three from the Northern Health Region.


Atwal said the COVID situation in the province is improving but Manitobans need to stay vigilant.

"We are headed in a good direction but we still have a long way to go," he said. "133 cases and five deaths does not mean we can be careless with our action. It does not mean we can take the restrictions currently in place less seriously. It does not mean we can go see friends and family outside our household or host people this Thursday to celebrate the new year."

He added the current numbers show the steps people have been taking are working and that Manitobans need to continue their efforts.

"I know it is hard, especially when we have been working so hard for a long time."

There are currently 4,424 active cases and 19,302 people have recovered.

The province said 246 people are in hospital with active cases of COVID-19, including 32 people who are in intensive care.

There are 92 people in hospital who had COVID-19, but are no longer infectious, including four people who are in intensive care.

On Monday, 1,371 tests were completed, bringing the total to 418,344 since early February.


The First Nations COVID-19 bulletin was also released on Tuesday and it showed there are 33 new cases among First Nations people living in Manitoba, including 29 off reserve and four on reserve.

The data shows First Nations people make up almost half of all active cases in Manitoba and around a third of hospitalizations and ICU patients.

“The majority of our deaths of First Nations community members have been off-reserve member. This concept of on-reserve, off-reserve is moot,” said Grand Chief Arlen Dumas of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.

Given the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on First Nations, Atwal was asked Tuesday if Indigenous people should be prioritized in the vaccine rollout. Healthcare workers and personal care home residents are currently at the front of the queue. 

“There are only so many doses of the vaccine,” said Atwal. “As time goes on that eligibility changes, but it also needs to take into account who we protect first to make sure the system is able to manage those sick individuals.” 

Dumas said the First Nations Pandemic Task Force is working alongside public health officials to prepare for the arrival of the Moderna vaccine, which is expected to land in a Winnipeg warehouse shortly.

The Moderna vaccine is generally easier to ship to remote Indigenous communities than the Pzifer vaccine because it doesn’t need to be stored in ultra-cool temperatures. 

“The Moderna vaccine will have more of a utility in remote and isolated communities,” said Dumas. “However, I wouldn’t count out the Pzifer vaccine.”