WINNIPEG -- The deaths of three more people from Winnipeg have been linked to COVID-19, as cases continue to rise in the Northern Health Region.

On Friday, the province said the most recent deaths include a woman in her 30s, a woman in her 50s, and a woman in her 80s whose death is linked to the outbreak at Concordia Place Personal Care Home.

These cases bring the total number of deaths related to COVID-19 in Manitoba to 823, though one previously reported death was removed due to a data error.

Health officials said the death was a woman in her 80s from the Interlake-Eastern Health Region, and was not related to COVID-19.

Along with the deaths, the province announced 157 new cases of COVID-19, the majority of which were in the Northern Health Region. The area reported 81 new cases on Friday. It has 1,837 active cases – the highest of any region in Manitoba.

The province also declared an outbreak at the Wapanohk Community School in Thompson. The school has been moved to the critical or red level on the pandemic response system. The province did not say how many cases have been linked to the outbreak.

Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer, said the number of cases in the north has been growing, and he said that will likely continue, adding once COVID-19 is introduced into a remote, isolated setting, there will be increased transmission.

"A lot of work (is) being done to try to get those numbers down," Roussin said.

While he was not able to give a precise number, Roussin said earlier this week the five-day test-positivity rate in the north was sitting at around 26 per cent.

The other cases reported on Friday include:

  • 24 cases in the Prairie Mountain Health region;
  • nine cases in the Interlake-Eastern Health Region;
  • 14 cases in the Southern Health–Santé Sud health region; and
  • 29 cases in the Winnipeg health region.

The five-day test-positivity rate now sits at 7.5 per cent provincially and 4.9 per cent in Winnipeg. There have been a total of 29,280 cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba since March 2020, though five cases have been removed from the total due to a data error.

The province said there are 3,490 people with active cases of COVID-19 on Friday, and listed 24,967 people as recovered.

The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 dropped slightly, with 272 people in care as of Friday. Of these people, 122 had active COVID-19 cases, while 150 people were no longer infectious, but still needed care. Of the 39 people in intensive care with COVID-19, there were 29 people who had active cases and 10 people who were no longer infectious but still needed critical care.

Roussin said there have been no cases of any COVID-19 variants identified in Manitoba, but health officials are looking. He said about five per cent of cases are tested for any variants.

He said this is targeted testing, focused mostly on travellers, close contacts to travellers, or areas where there are outbreaks or large transmissions of the virus.

There were 2,176 tests completed on Thursday. This brings the total number of tests done since early February 2020 to 473,801.