Three more people have died and Manitoba hit a new pandemic high on Thursday with 560 cases, the largest single-day total in the province to date.
The previous high of 546 was set on Nov. 23 during the second wave.
The new high mark comes during a week of worrying milestones.
Manitoba now has the second-highest daily infection rate of all provinces, trailing behind only Alberta.
The provincial seven-day average for daily cases also just breached a record of 421 set last fall; the rate is now 468.
The crush of daily cases over the past month has put dozens in hospital, with Manitoba hitting a new high of 62 COVID-19 patients in intensive care as of mid-week. The number in intensive care remains at 62 on Thursday.
Leaked modelling data from the province predicted Manitoba wouldn’t hit that mark for about two more weeks.
The second wave peak for all intensive care patients, the total for COVID-19 and all other conditions, was 129. As of Wednesday, there were a total of 115 patients in Manitoba ICUs.
The number of people in hospital Thursday due to COVID-19 jumped from 221 to 240.
Another outbreak has been declared at Donwood Manor Personal Care Home in Winnipeg, while an outbreak has been declared over at the CN Rail offices at 821 Lagimodiere Blvd.
The provincial test positivity rate is down slightly to 12 per cent. Winnipeg’s rate was 14.4 per cent for the second day in a row.
The total number of cases of more contagious coronavirus variants rose by 388 to 5,210. Of Manitoba’s 4,046 active cases, 1,974 are now variants.
So far, 1,002 people have died due to COVID-19, including 29 linked to variants.
The three deaths announced Thursday are all linked to the B117 variant originally detected in the U.K. Those deaths are two women, in their 60s and 70s, from the Prairie Mountain Health region, and a man in his 70s from Winnipeg.
The new cases are primarily in Winnipeg, where 431 people have tested positive. Another 38 are in the Interlake-Eastern Health region, 34 are in Prairie Mountain Health, 30 in Southern Health and 27 in the Northern Health Region.
All Winnipeg and Brandon schools went to remote learning on Wednesday, which is set to last until May 30. Some schools outside those cities have also gone remote due to multiple cases.
Restrictions that came in Sunday brought in tight limits on many businesses and closed others, including churches, gyms and other recreational spaces. They also lowered the number of people allowed to gather in outdoor public places to five.
Provincewide restrictions brought in on April 28 aimed to reduce gatherings and close contacts by prohibiting visits between households, indoors and in yards.
Fines for people who repeatedly break public health orders have also been increased.
Manitoba’s third wave hasn’t yet crested, but Premier Brian Pallister said he expects positive impacts of the restrictions could begin to show through in the coming week.
“It would be my hope that Manitobans both get vaccinated at their first opportunity and continue to follow public health orders that we’ve laid out, which are strong but necessary,” he said during a news conference on Thursday.
As cases climb, Manitoba health officials continue to urge people to get vaccinated as soon as they can. All adults are eligible as of Wednesday and can book an appointment through the province’s website or by calling 1-844-626-8222. Everyone 12 and up should be eligible to book no later than May 21.
Eligibility has expanded significantly in the past few weeks as the province received a bump in vaccines, primarily of Pfizer-BioNTech.
The province is expecting 70 per cent of eligible Manitobans will have had at least one dose by June 9. Nearly half of all adults have received at least one dose.
Second dose appointment bookings will begin May 22 or sooner, officials have said, with the entire second dose campaign expected to wrap up by mid- to late July.
“We have a chance of having the end of our summer being a two-dose summer, if we can get Manitobans to come in and roll up their sleeves and get a shot,” Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of Manitoba’s vaccine rollout, told Information Radio host Marcy Markusa on Thursday.
Information Radio – MB11:34June 6 to 9th. That’s when The Province expects all Manitobans aged 12 and up will have their first dose shots. But then what?