There are 216 new cases of COVID-19 and three more deaths from the illness in Manitoba, according to a provincial news release issued on Saturday.
Of the new cases, more than half — 118 — are in the Northern Health Region, which has seen a worrisome spike recently.
The rest of the cases are in the Winnipeg (50), Interlake-Eastern (22), Southern (14) and Prairie Mountain (12) health regions.
The deaths reported Saturday were all in the Winnipeg health region — a man in his 60s, a woman in her 70s and a woman in her 80s.
The provincial five-day test positivity rate — a rolling average of the number of tests that come back positive — is 9.8 per cent, up from 9.3 per cent on Friday. Winnipeg’s rate also rose slightly, to 6.5 per cent from 6.2.
The province’s news release says 1,836 COVID-19 tests were completed Friday, bringing the total number of lab tests completed since early February 2020 to 463,084.
The number of Manitobans in hospital is 272, up from 268 on Friday. There are also 40 people in intensive care, up from 33 the day prior.
On Friday, the province reported 173 new cases of COVID-19, with more than a third — 64 — in the Northern Health Region.
As well, Fox Lake Cree Nation declared an outbreak of COVID-19 on Friday.
There are 34 active cases in the First Nation, about 700 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, Chief Morris Beardy said in a news release.
That number includes Beardy himself.
“This is very serious and scary for us all. I also know how resilient and strong our community is, and how we can support each other through difficult times,” he said.
There are 88 Fox Lake households affected by the virus, including 15 in the Bird reserve and 70 in the nearby town of Gillam, according to the release.
The northern region, including the town of Churchill, was excluded from an easing of some of the province’s strict pandemic restrictions, which came into effect for the rest of Manitoba Saturday, following recent drops in case numbers.
Two designated visitors are now allowed for each household, and group of up to five can gather outdoors on private property.
Retailers are allowed to sell non-essential items in-store again, and barbers and hair stylists are able to go back to work.
As well, as of Saturday, all Manitoba teachers, educational support staff and other staff working in schools and directly with students can now make an appointment for rapid COVID-19 testing at the Winnipeg Fast Pass site at 1066 Nairn Ave., provided they meet certain criteria.
To be eligible, people who work in schools must be symptomatic, identified as a close contact because of an exposure at school, or have a symptomatic household member.
Appointments for the pilot site are now open for eligible staff working in all schools and school divisions, the province says.