Southern Health continues to drive COVID-19 increases as Manitoba posts 342 cases over 3 days, 2 deaths

Another two deaths and 342 new COVID-19 cases emerged in Manitoba over the past three days, and the region with the lowest vaccination rate continues to have a disproportionate share of the impacts the coronavirus is having in the province.

Since the last government update on Friday, the provincial test positivity jumped to 4.6 per cent from 3.9 per cent, and Winnipeg’s rate climbed to 1.6 per cent from 1.1 per cent.

Rates climbed and remain the highest in the Southern Health region, where test positivity surged to 14.2 per cent from 11.7 per cent on Friday, according to internal provincial data leaked to the CBC. The region has the lowest vaccination rate in Manitoba and a disproportionate number of the latest cases and hospitalizations.

Test positivity also rose in the Interlake-Eastern Health region, to 4.1 per cent from 1.5 per cent on Friday. Rates dropped in the Northern Health Region, to 7.9 per cent from 10.8 per cent on Friday, and in Prairie Mountain Health, to 4.1 per cent from 5.5 per cent.

The number of people in hospital due to COVID-19 rose to 98 on Monday from 85 on Friday, including 44 from Southern Health.

The number of Manitobans in intensive care units is at 90, including 25 COVID-19 patients, 12 of whom are from Southern Health. The pre-pandemic provincewide maximum capacity for ICU patients was 72.

The two deaths are a man in his 70s from the Prairie Mountain Health region, linked to an outbreak at Benito Personal Care Home, and a woman in her 70s from the Northern Health Region.

Two deaths were reported on the provincial COVID-19 dashboard on Friday, but no other information was provided at the time about the age, sex or home region of those individuals. On Monday, the province said both — a woman and a man, both in their 60s — are from Southern Health.

Nearly half from south

Of the 342 cases reported in the past three days, 97 were identified on Saturday, 149 on Sunday and 96 on Monday.

Of the Monday cases, 45 are from Southern Health and 37 of those were in people who aren’t fully vaccinated.

The region, which has just over 15 per cent of the provincial population, has the lowest vaccine uptake in Manitoba by a considerable margin: 68 per cent of eligible people in Southern Health are vaccinated. That’s compared to just shy of 82 per cent in Prairie Mountain Health, the region with the next lowest rates, according to the provincial vaccine dashboard.

The other cases reported Monday include 22 cases in the Winnipeg Health region, including 15 in people who were not fully vaccinated.

There are 13 new cases in the Interlake-Eastern Health region, including 10 in people who weren’t fully vaccinated.

And there are eight new cases each in the Northern Health and Prairie Mountain Health regions; three from Northern Health and five from Prairie Mountain Health were not fully vaccinated.

The province says 63 per cent of the of 1,273 active cases in the province are in people who haven’t had a single vaccine dose. Unvaccinated people also make up 70 per cent of patients with active infections in hospital and 85 per cent with active infections in ICU.

The province also declared an outbreak among a grade 11-12 class at École Régionale Notre-Dame, about 110 kilometres west of Winnipeg in Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes. Unvaccinated students are self-isolating, the province said, and the school has moved to the restricted, or orange, level of Manitoba’s pandemic response system.

So far, at least 1,248 Manitobans have died of COVID-19 and 61,167 have recovered, the province reported.