WINNIPEG -- The province has reported another death linked to the Alpha variant, as Manitoba's test positivity rate dipped below six per cent for the first time since April.

The death reported on Friday was a man in his 70s from the Southern Health Region, linked to the Alpha variant (B.1.1.7).

This brings the total number of deaths of people with COVID-19 in Manitoba to 1,135.

Along with this, the province reported 85 new cases and a five-day test positivity rate of 5.9 per cent.

This is the lowest test positivity rate since April 19, when the province reported a rate of 5.7 per cent.

The majority of cases were in Winnipeg, which reported 53 new cases on Friday and a five-day test positivity rate of 6.5 per cent. The region has 803 active cases.

The other cases reported on Friday include:

  • 10 cases in the Interlake-Eastern health region, which has 231 active cases;
  • eight cases in the Northern health region; which has 285 active cases;
  • five cases in the Prairie Mountain Health region; which has 112 active cases; and
  • nine cases in the Southern Health region, which has 204 active cases.

The new cases bring Manitoba's total to 55,777, including 1,635 active cases and 53,007 recoveries. One case was removed from the total due to a data correction.

Hospitalizations dropped on Friday, with a total of 185 COVID-19 patients in hospital. This is compared to 200 COVID-19 hospitalizations on Thursday.

However, the total number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care in Manitoba increased by two on Friday, with 54 patients in ICU. Of these people, 28 have active cases and 26 are no longer infectious but still require critical care.

The number of Manitoba ICU patients receiving care in other provinces remained at 12 on Friday, with 11 in Ontario and one in Alberta. No other COVID-19 patients were taken out of the province for care on Thursday.

The province said so far, 35 patients who were receiving out-of-province care have been returned to Manitoba hospitals.

The province said 1,625 laboratory tests were completed on Thursday, bringing the total since early February 2020 to 823,640. 

This is a developing story. More to come.