291 new COVID-19 cases reported in Manitoba as 2 more school outbreaks declared

Manitoba declared two more outbreaks at Winnipeg schools and reported 291 more COVID-19 cases in the province on Tuesday as another death linked to a more contagious coronavirus variant was also announced.

A man in his 40s from Winnipeg died due to the B117 coronavirus variant originally detected in the U.K., a news release says.

There have now been 11 deaths linked variants, which spread more easily than the original COVID-19 strain.

The total number of variant cases also jumped 361 since Saturday — from 2,344 to 2,705. 

Of Manitoba’s 2,692 active cases, 993 are variants. 

Outbreaks were declared at Holy Cross School and The King’s School in Winnipeg. Both have been moved to red, or critical, under the province’s pandemic response system. Holy Cross has moved to remote learning until May 12, and King’s until May 16.

The province has declared 11 official outbreaks at schools since the beginning of the pandemic; there are three active school outbreaks (including Marie-Anne-Gaboury School) as cases in students and teachers rise.

That’s causing an increasing number of school worker absences due to isolation requirements, several divisions said on Monday.

A growing number of Winnipeg schools have moved to remote learning recently without waiting for the province to declare outbreaks.

The union that represents teachers has called for the province to move all Winnipeg schools to remote learning, but the chief provincial public health officer said Monday that there are no plans to implement widespread school closures.

Winnipeg’s test positivity rate continues to rise; it went from 8.7 to 9.2 per cent on Wednesday. The provincial rate also increased, from eight to 8.5 per cent.

The new COVID-19 cases in Manitoba are mostly in Winnipeg, where 212 cases were identified. Another 31 have been detected in the Prairie Mountain Health region, 29 in Southern Health, 12 in Interlake-Eastern and seven in Northern Health.

Manitoba’s COVID-19 caseload has been climbing for weeks and officials imposed a series of restrictions just under a week ago in an attempt to stem the spread.

Hospital numbers have increased since then: there are 182 people in hospital on Tuesday, including 47 in intensive care. Two weeks ago, there were 132 people in hospital due to COVID-19, 33 of them in ICU.

The provincial vaccine task force has expanded vaccine eligibility to a series of high-risk areas in recent weeks, announcing three more areas in Winnipeg on Wednesday — West Kildonan, Old St. Vital and Elmwood.

Three more areas of Winnipeg, including the neighbourhoods of West Kildonan, Old St. Vital and Elmwood, have been given priority access to COVID-19 vaccines. (Brooke Schreiber/CBC)

More to come