Manitoba announced three more deaths and 86 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday — the first day with fewer than 100 cases in just over a week.
Officials have announced triple-digit new cases every day since April 6, when 62 cases were reported.
The provincial test positivity rate also declined slightly Wednesday, to 5.3 per cent from six per cent. Winnipeg’s rate was 5.2 per cent, down from 5.7 per cent.
Despite the slightly slower numbers and test positivity rates announced Wednesday, on the whole both have been trending upward in recent weeks.
The seven-day average for new daily cases sits at about 128 — it was 77 two weeks ago. Similarly, though the provincial test positivity rate declined in the past two days, it remains 1.5 percentage points higher than it was two weeks earlier.
The number of people in hospital due to COVID-19 is 142, up four from Tuesday. The number in intensive care rose by four to 37.
Bump in variants
The number of more contagious coronavirus variants in the province also jumped by 81, according to the provincial variant tracking dashboard.
That brings the total to 560, up from 479 on Tuesday. There are 225 active variant cases, up from 154, and 333 people have recovered.
There are 1,429 total active cases right now in Manitoba, and almost 16 per cent are variants. On Tuesday, variants represented just shy of 11 per cent of active cases.
So far, two deaths have been tied to variants.
The three deaths reported Wednesday include a woman in her 50s from Prairie Mountain Health region, a man in his 70s from Winnipeg and a man in his 80s from the Southern Health region.
Of the new cases reported today, the majority — 53 — were reported in Winnipeg, and 16 were identified in the Northern Health Region. Another seven were found in the Interlake-Eastern health region, five were reported in Prairie Mountain Health and five in Southern Health.
A previous outbreak at Riverview Health Centre in Winnipeg has been declared over.
Vaccine eligibility expands
The announcements come as Manitoba expanded vaccine eligibility criteria on Wednesday. Anyone 59 or older, or First Nations people 39 and older, can get immunized at pop-up clinics and supersites.
The proportion of Manitoba adults with at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine rose to 21.5 per cent Wednesday.
Fewer older people have been testing positive lately as Manitoba’s vaccination campaign has ramped up, says Dr. Joss Reimer.
WATCH | Reimer says Manitoba fine tuning eligibility criteria:
“We are in the beginning of a third wave,” the medical lead of Manitoba’s vaccine task force said. “We must continue to be vigilant, so get vaccinated when you’re eligible.”
Johanu Botha, co-lead of the vaccine implementation task force, says Manitobans should expect a higher proportion of shots to be doled out in supersites soon in order to speed up the campaign.
Manitoba still expects all eligible adults will have at least one dose of vaccine sometime between mid-May and mid-June, Botha says.
So far, 954 people have died of COVID-19 in Manitoba.
WATCH | Botha explains plan to temporarily reduce pop-ups, speed up supersites: