WINNIPEG -- A Manitoban with COVID-19 died earlier this week after health officials attempted to transport them to Ontario for care, Shared Health confirmed Wednesday.

In a statement to CTV News Winnipeg, a spokesperson for Shared Health confirmed the death occurred earlier this week.

“A critically ill patient who was identified for transport to an Ontario hospital did destabilize prior to takeoff earlier this week,” the spokesperson said. “The patient was provided with care by the critical care transport team and immediately returned to the sending facility. We can confirm the patient passed away the following day.

“Our condolences go out to the patient’s family and loved ones on their loss. We also want to send along our thoughts to the care teams who worked tirelessly to treat this patient, as they have for so many others during this pandemic.”

The province said patients selected to be transported to an ICU space in another jurisdiction are carefully assessed by the critical care team, and detailed discussions occur between the sending and receiving care teams.

“Rapid deterioration and death of COVID-19 patients requiring critical care is not uncommon and cannot be predicted, whether in the ICU or during transports,” the spokesperson said.

In recent weeks, Manitoba has started sending some COVID-19 patients that require intensive care to hospitals in northern Ontario.

As of Wednesday, 23 patients from Manitoba had been transferred to Ontario. Saskatchewan announced Tuesday that they will accept COVID-19 patients from Manitoba.

Acting Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen, when asked about the death following Question Period on Wednesday, said this is the only death the province is aware of.

“Anytime you’re transporting somebody by air, COVID or not, there can be complications, and we’ve seen that certainly in the past,” he said. “I have been aware of COVID patients being flown for many months now, whether it’s on STARS, or fixed-wing aircraft coming from the north, and some COVID patients are presenting pretty late in their progression of the disease.”

Goertzen said he is looking for more information about the death.

Manitoba NDP leader Wab Kinew said there needs to be answers on the death.

“We’ve seen that our health-care system has been overrun, as a result of cuts by the government and the impacts of COVID-19,” he said. “So, I think there is a legitimate question to ask as to whether this person would’ve survived, had they been allowed to remain in the intensive care bed they were in.”

Kinew also said questions need to be asked about the standard of care of people being transported out of Manitoba is at the level needed to move intensive care patients, saying there is risk when you move a person who requires intensive care.