Manitoba’s seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases dropped below 200 for the first time since April on Wednesday as the province reported 144 new cases.
Those infections brought Manitoba’s rolling average down to just over 192 — the lowest it’s been since April 23.
Seven more Manitobans have died after getting COVID-19, the province said in a news release.
All but one of the latest deaths are linked to more contagious coronavirus variants, including four connected to the B.1.1.7 or alpha variant first seen in the U.K. and two people who contracted variants still unspecified, the release said.
The deaths linked to the alpha variant were all of people from the Winnipeg health region: three women — in their 40s, 70s and 80s — and a man in his 60s. The woman in her 80s was linked to the outbreak in the Seven Oaks General Hospital 3U4-7 Unit, the release said.
Two people from the Southern Health region died with unspecified variants: a man in his 70s and a woman in her 80s linked to the outbreak at the Carman Memorial Hospital.
The death of another woman in her 80s linked to the Carman Memorial Hospital outbreak was also announced, bringing Manitoba’s total COVID-19 deaths to 1,111.
Manitoba’s five-day test positivity rate dropped to 9.7 per cent from 10.6 on Tuesday, the release said, which is the first time that number has dropped below 10 per cent since May 7.
Meanwhile, Winnipeg’s rate sank to 9.2 per cent from 9.9 on Tuesday.
Most of the new cases announced Wednesday are in the Winnipeg health region, which reported 80 infections.
The rest are spread out across the Southern Health region, which announced 29, the Northern Health Region, with 18, the Prairie Mountain Health region, with nine, and the Interlake-Eastern health region, with eight, the release said.
Hospitalizations still high
There are now 273 Manitobans in hospital after getting COVID-19, the release said.
That includes 83 people in intensive care units, with 61 still in Manitoba, 21 in Ontario and one in Alberta. Nineteen of those people are younger than 40, a Shared Health spokesperson said in an email.
Manitoba started sending some COVID-19 patients to other provinces for critical care last month as it works to free up space in its strained intensive care units.
Twenty-eight patients previously moved out of Manitoba for care have since been brought back, the release said. To date, seven people have died after being transported to other provinces for care.
As of midnight, there was a total of 142 Manitobans in intensive care, including both those there for COVID-19 and those who need critical care for other reasons, the Shared Health spokesperson said. That’s still nearly double the province’s pre-pandemic ICU capacity of 72 patients, the spokesperson said.
Manitoba has also reported 121 newly identified cases of more contagious coronavirus variants, the province’s online variant dashboard says. Sixty-eight of those cases are still listed as unspecified, while 53 have been linked to the alpha variant, the dashboard says.
Seventy per cent of Manitobans age 12 and up have now gotten at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, the province’s online vaccine dashboard says. Among adults, that figure hovers just above 72 per cent.
Since the start of the pandemic, 54,739 Manitobans have tested positive for COVID-19, including 50,829 considered recovered and 2,799 cases still deemed active.