139 new COVID-19 cases, 3 deaths reported in Manitoba on Thursday

There are 139 new COVID-19 cases in Manitoba on Thursday and three more people have died from the illness, the province says in a news release.

The province also announced the first death linked to the B117 coronavirus variant. A man in his late 70s from the Winnipeg health region died in late March, the release says.

The results of sequencing that determined the case was a variant came back after the man died, Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said on a call with reporters.

Sixty of the new COVID-19 cases announced on Thursday are in the Winnipeg health region, the release says. There are 55 in the Northern Health Region, 18 in the Prairie Mountain Health region and six in the Southern Health region. No new cases were announced in the Interlake-Eastern health region, the release says.

The COVID-19 deaths announced Thursday are a man and a woman in their 70s, with the latter linked to the outbreak at Holy Family Home, and a woman in her 80s. All three deaths were in the Winnipeg health region, the release says.

There are also 40 newly identified cases of more infectious coronavirus variants, the release says.

Thirty-seven of those cases are the B117 variant first identified in the U.K., with 32 of them in the Winnipeg health region, two each in the Interlake-Eastern and Prairie Mountain health regions and one in the Southern Health region.

The other three variant cases are in the Winnipeg health region and have not yet been categorized, the release says.

More to come

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Manitoba has reported its first death linked to one of the more contagious coronavirus variants of concern.

The person who died had the B117 strain first detected in the U.K.

Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin will provide more details on a call with reporters at 12:30 p.m.

As of Thursday morning, Manitoba had reported 299 cases of coronavirus variants of concern; 56 of them are still active, according to the province’s online variant dashboard.

The B117 strain makes up the vast majority of Manitoba’s variant cases, with 261.

There have also been 20 cases of the B1351 variant first identified in South Africa and there are 18 cases still uncategorized, the dashboard says.

Most of Manitoba’s variant cases identified so far have been in the Winnipeg health region. The Northern Health Region remains the only region not to have reported any variant cases.

Close contact with a known case appears to be the driving factor behind most of Manitoba’s known variant cases, the dashboard says.

A little more than one-quarter of the province’s reported cases are still classified as unknown acquisition — meaning contact tracers haven’t been able to figure out where the person got it.