Winnipeg teen among 4 COVID-19 deaths as Manitoba reports 250 new cases

A Winnipeg teenager has died after he got COVID-19, the province says in a news release.

The teen’s death was one of four announced in Manitoba on Wednesday. A Winnipeg man in his 50s who contracted the more contagious B.1.1.7, or alpha, variant — first seen in the U.K. — was also among the deaths reported Wednesday.

Two intensive care patients who were moved from Manitoba to hospitals in Ontario have also died, Lanette Siragusa, chief nursing officer for Manitoba Shared Health, said at a news conference later Wednesday.

Both patients — a man in his 70s and a woman in her 60s — were moved out of province on May 25, she said.

“Our condolences go out to the loved ones for their loss,” Siragusa said.

The deaths of two other Manitoba patients transferred out of province were reported within the last week: a man in his 30s and a 57-year-old woman.

A week earlier, a 31-year-old woman died after a failed attempt to airlift her to an Ontario hospital.

Manitoba started sending some of its intensive care patients outside the province in mid-May as it worked to free up space in its strained hospitals. 

In total, there are now 323 Manitobans in hospital with COVID-19 — 293 in Manitoba and 30 in hospitals outside the province. The total number in hospital is down by 13 since Tuesday.

There are 67 patients in intensive care in Manitoba, along with 27 Manitoba patients in Ontario, two in Alberta and one in Saskatchewan. No additional patients have been transferred out of Manitoba since June 4, Siragusa said.

Twenty-one people who were previously sent out of province for critical care have since been brought back. That includes four people transferred from Ontario on Tuesday.

‘Light at the end of the tunnel’ for hospitals: Siragusa

Manitoba also reported 250 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, including 136 in the Winnipeg health region.

The rest are split between the Southern Health region (which reported 48), the Interlake-Eastern health region (32), the Northern Health Region (18) and the Prairie Mountain Health region (16), the province’s news release said.

Lanette Siragusa, chief nursing officer for Manitoba Shared Health, says the province’s recent lower COVID-19 case counts have been reassuring. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

Manitoba’s seven-day new case average, which has recently been trending downward, is now just over 263.

Siragusa said the slight decrease in daily cases in Manitoba is a good sign for the province’s overwhelmed hospitals.

“The recent lower case counts provide some reassurance as well as some light at the end of the tunnel for our system,” Siragusa said, though she said health-care facilities are still under “extreme pressure.”

Manitoba’s five-day test positivity rate also dropped to 11.5 per cent from 12 per cent on Tuesday. Winnipeg’s sank to 12.3 per cent from 12.6.

The province also announced slightly eased pandemic restrictions effective Saturday. The changes were minimal since hospitals are still strained, Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said alongside Siragusa at Wednesday’s news conference.

The new rules will allow outdoor gatherings in public spaces of up to five people. On private property, those five people will be in addition to those who live there — though the visitors can’t come from more than two different households, Roussin said.

Earlier Wednesday, Manitoba also announced a vaccine incentive lottery that will see immunized adults entered to win $100,000. Those 12 to 17 will be eligible to win $25,000 scholarships if they get vaccinated.

An update on the number of more transmissible coronavirus variants identified in Manitoba wasn’t available on Wednesday because of a technical glitch, a provincial spokesperson said. There is no estimated time for when that information may be available.

Since the start of the pandemic, 53,403 people in Manitoba have tested positive for COVID-19. To date, 48,536 of them are considered recovered, while 3,786 are still deemed active.

The province completed 2,713 COVID-19 tests on Tuesday, bringing the total done to 792,471.