294 new COVID-19 cases, 5 deaths reported in Manitoba on Saturday

There are 294 new COVID-19 cases in Manitoba on Saturday and five more people have died from the illness, the province says in a news release.

Most of the new cases were in the Winnipeg health region, which reported 163 infections.

The rest were split between the Southern Health region (which announced 53), the Northern Health Region (32) and the Interlake-Eastern and Prairie Mountain health regions, which each reported 23.

Four of the deaths reported Saturday were linked to more contagious coronavirus variants, the release said. 

That included three people in their 60s who had the B.1.1.7, or alpha, variant first seen in the U.K.: a man from the Southern Health region and a man and a woman from the Winnipeg health region.

Another woman in her 60s died after contracting a variant that’s still unspecified, the release said.

A woman in her 70s from the Winnipeg health region also died after getting COVID-19.

The province has also identified 198 more cases of variants, according to Manitoba’s online variant dashboard — 77 more cases of the alpha variant and 121 still listed as unspecified variants.

Manitoba’s five-day test positivity rate rose to 11.2 per cent from 10.6 on Friday. Winnipeg’s rate climbed to 11.2 from 11, the release said.

There are now 311 Manitobans in hospital after getting COVID-19 — up by five since Friday — including 82 in intensive care units.

Twenty-six of those ICU patients are being cared for out of province, with 25 in Ontario and one in Alberta, as Manitoba works to free up space in its strained hospitals.

Another 26 have been transferred back to Manitoba after being moved out of province, including three on Friday, the release said.

A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared in the Dauphin Regional Health Centre’s medicine unit, the release said.

Since the start of the pandemic, 54,163 Manitobans have tested positive for COVID-19. Of those, 49,633 are considered to have recovered from the illness while 3,437 are still deemed active cases, the release said.