WINNIPEG -- COVID-19 test positivity rates in Steinbach and other areas of southern Manitoba are skyrocketing, and Manitoba’s top doctor says more needs to be done in that region to help flatten the curve.

During the COVID-19 update on Friday, Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, spoke about the rising case numbers in the Southern Health–Santé Sud health region, where 114 new cases were announced.

“We are seeing a lot of disproportionate numbers, and we need to end that,” Roussin said.

Last week, a rally held in Steinbach attracted hundreds of people who protested public health orders, and many questioned the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic.

When asked if the recent anti-mask rally contributed to the high test-positivity rate in the community, Roussin said there is no direct linkage to it at this point.

“Any case investigation we do is reliant on history, so I don’t have any direct links to that,” he said. “I just think that in the area, we saw the trend for some time, as we added Southern (Health) to Winnipeg’s red earlier."

Roussin said numbers in smaller regions can show a lot of variables in numbers, but said the current numbers in Steinbach are concerning.

“We are seeing a lot of disproportionate numbers, and we need to end that,” Roussin said, specifically noting several communities have significantly high test positivity rates.

In Steinbach, Man., the 10-day test positivity rate in that community is 40 per cent.

“40 per cent of people getting tested are testing positive,” Roussin said. “When you are looking at something like 40 per cent, we just know this is a very concerning number, and we need things to change in that area right now."

“We’re seeing about 30 to 40 positive tests every day, just in Steinbach."

Roussin said three personal care homes in Steinbach have declared outbreaks and three assisted living facilities have also declared outbreaks.

“Bethesda Regional Health Centre is seeing high volumes of COVID patients,” he said, adding the death toll in Steinbach since the start of the pandemic is 24.

Ste. Anne and La Broquerie are showing a 20 per cent test positivity rate, and the R.M. of Hanover has a 10-day test-positivity rate of 30 per cent and climbing.

Both the Winnipeg region and the province’s five-day test positivity rate was 13.7 per cent on Friday.

Roussin said all residents of the Southern Health region need to adhere to the new public health measures in place in the province.