Six more people died of COVID-19 in Manitoba and there are 187 new cases of the disease caused by the new coronavirus, the province announced on Thursday.
The positivity rate for the Manitoba five-day test – a continuous average of the COVID-19 tests that tested positive – is now 11.2 percent, up from 12.6 on Wednesday. In Winnipeg, that rate is 10.4%, down from 11.9 on Wednesday.
“We are going in the right direction,” said Dr. Jazz Atwal, the provincial deputy head of public health, in a conference call with the media on Thursday afternoon.
But Atwal said Manitoba needs fewer hospitalizations for COVID-19, fewer cases and lower rates of test positivity before restrictions in the province are lifted.
Intensive care units in the province are still 154 percent pre-pandemic capable, Lanette Siragusa, chief of shared health nursing, said on the conference call.
As of Thursday morning, there were 337 people testing positive for COVID-19 at the hospital in Manitoba, including 247 who are still considered to be infectious, the press release says. There are 37 patients with COVID-19 in intensive care – one more than on Wednesday – 33 of which are considered infectious.
Manitoba’s current restrictions, which include banning social gatherings with people outside its home and closing non-essential businesses, such as gyms, theaters and restaurants for dinner service, are due to end on January 8.
“We would have to examine the evidence and epidemiology closer to the time when the orders expire,” said Atwal on the possibility of loosening restrictions.
The deaths announced on Thursday include a woman in her 70s in the Prairie Mountain Health region, a woman from Winnipeg in her 70s and a man from Southern Health in her 80s, the province said in a press release.
The other deaths are three Winnipeg women linked to nursing homes: one in her 80s linked to the Convalescent Home of Winnipeg, another in her 80s linked to the Charleswood Care Center and one in her 90s linked to the Poseidon Care Center.
Outbreaks of the disease have been reported at the personal care home Tudor House in Selkirk and the personal care home in southeastern Winnipeg. The outbreaks at Stonewall’s Rosewood Lodge personal care home and Winnipeg’s Misericordia Place and the Kildonan personal care center are over.
There were 24,700 cases of COVID-19 identified in Manitoba and 667 people died from the disease. More than half of those deaths – 356 – occurred this month, says the province’s data site.
Nearly half of Thursday’s new cases are in the Winnipeg health region, the statement said. The rest is divided between the northern health region (38), the southern health region (33), the Interlake-Eastern health region (18) and the prairie mountain health region (seven).
To date, 19,528 of these people have been listed as recovered, while 4,505 are still considered active (although officials have previously said that the number is inflated because of an accumulation of data entry).
The director of shared health nursing, Lanette Siragusa, and Dr. Jazz Atwal, deputy chief of public health for the province, are giving more details in a media conference call.
The availability of media on New Year’s Eve is the second of two in an 11-day holiday period that started on Christmas Eve and continues through this weekend.
The places where there were possible COVID-19 public exhibitions are listed by region on the province’s website.
There were 2,083 COVID-19 tests done in Manitoba on Wednesday, bringing the total number completed since the beginning of February to 421,630, the statement said.