Three more cases of the B117 coronavirus variant first detected in the U.K. have been identified in Manitoba.
All three are linked to international travel and have since recovered, deputy chief provincial public health officer Dr. Jazz Atwal said at a Friday afternoon news conference.
Their close contacts ranged from four people to 24, Atwal said, though there is no evidence of further spread of the variant in Manitoba. He said he believes most of those contacts were people who live with those who tested positive.
None of the new variant cases are linked to First Nations communities, he said, but he added he would not specify where the cases were, or when they were identified.
Atwal said the people whose cases were announced Friday followed public health rules, though he declined to elaborate on them.
“It’s too burdensome to talk about each case individually. There are some privacy concerns there as well.”
There have now been four cases of the B117 variant identified in Manitoba. Atwal said he doesn’t believe any are linked to each other.
“This is not an unexpected development. We are anticipating variant of concern cases in Manitoba and we are prepared for this,” Atwal said.
“Just like [with] our first cases of COVID-19, we need to learn to live with the virus and the variants of concern. However, that does not mean we can [become] complacent with our actions.”
Atwal said the additional variant cases serve as reminders to keep following public health orders and only travel if absolutely necessary. Going forward, known B117 cases will be listed daily in Manitoba’s COVID-19 news releases, he said.
There are 92 new COVID-19 cases in Manitoba on Friday, including 50 in the Northern Health Region and 35 in the Winnipeg health region. There are also three new cases in the Prairie Mountain Health region and two each in the Interlake-Eastern and Southern health regions.
Two more people from Winnipeg have died after getting COVID-19: a man in his 80s and a woman in her 90s. The woman’s case was linked to the outbreak at Golden Links Lodge, Atwal said.
Those deaths bring Manitoba’s total to 879, after a previously reported death was removed because of a data correction.
Manitoba’s five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate fell to 5.7 per cent from six per cent on Thursday, while Winnipeg’s dropped to 4.2 from 4.4.
There are now 213 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Manitoba, down by 11 from Thursday. Twenty-seven are still in intensive care.
Two previously announced COVID-19 cases were removed from Manitoba’s total after a data correction, which brings the total number of cases identified in the province to 31,235.
There are now 1,169 active cases in Manitoba, though health officials have said that number is inflated by a data entry backlog, and 29,187 have recovered.
On Thursday, there were 2,389 more COVID-19 tests done in the province, bringing the total completed in Manitoba since early last February to 508,900.