Manitoba announced 41 new COVID-19 cases and three deaths from the illness on Friday.
The deaths are from three different health regions in the province, and all three are linked to a coronavirus variant of concern, the province said in a new release.
They include a woman in her 60s from the Winnipeg health region, linked to the B.1.1.7 (alpha) variant of concern, and another woman in her 60s, from the Prairie Mountain Health region, also linked to B.1.1.7.
The other death is a man in his 80s from the Southern Health region, linked to an unspecified variant of concern.
The total number of Manitobans who have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began is now 1,170, including 174 identified as being linked to a coronavirus variant.
Of the latest COVID-19 cases, nearly half are in the Interlake–Eastern health region, where 19 have been reported.
For the first time in months, the lion’s share of cases are not in the Winnipeg health region, which reported 13.
The remainder include four new cases in the Southern Health region, three in the Prairie Mountain Health region and two in the Northern Health Region, which had also led the province in cases at one point earlier this year.
Test positivity rate plunges
The current five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate in Winnipeg is the lowest it has been since last October — when the province started including the Winnipeg rate in its daily updates.
That rate is now at 2.1 per cent, down from 2.9 per cent on Thursday. It had soared up to 16.8 per cent exactly two months ago.
Provincially, the rate is three per cent, down from 3.3 on Thursday.
There are now 106 patients with COVID-19 in Manitoba hospitals — up by one from Thursday. Of those, 24 are in intensive care, a decrease of four.
There were 1,496 COVID-19 tests completed Thursday, bringing the total number since early February 2020 to 862,833.
The total number of COVID-19 cases identified as stemming from a coronavirus variant of concern since the start of the pandemic is now 16,455, an increase of 24 from Thursday, according to the province’s variant of concern dashboard.
Of the newly identified variant cases, 22 involve an as-yet-unspecified variant, one invovles the B.1.1.7 variant and one is the B.1.617 variant.
No new cases of the highly-contagious B.1617.2 (delta) variant were reported.
There are 285 active cases involving variants of concern, of which 159 are unspecified.
There are 85 active cases linked to B.1.1.7 , 38 to the delta variant, two to the P.1 (gamma) variant and one with the B.1.617 variant.
Vaccines for walk-ups
Starting Saturday and until the end of July, the RBC Convention Centre vaccination supersite in Winnipeg will offer walk-in immunizations every day from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines will be available, the province announced in its Friday update.
All people age 12 and up are eligible for their first or second dose. The date of the second appointment must be at least 28 days after the first vaccination.
A total of 1,708,800 doses of vaccine have been administered in Manitoba.
As of Tuesday morning, 78.2 per cent of Manitobans 12 and up had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 64.3 per cent had received two, according to the provincial vaccine dashboard.
Those who get their first dose on or before Aug. 2 and second dose on or before Sept. 6 are automatically entered to win a series of cash prizes or for scholarships for youth through the province’s vaccination lottery.
Vaccines for evacuees
The province said it is working with regional health authorities and Indigenous partners to ensure vaccines are available to individuals who have been forced to leave their homes due to wildfires.
Individuals can use the online vaccine finder to locate a site with available doses.
A complete listing and searchable map of all vaccine sites, including urban Indigenous clinics and pop-up clinics, is available online.
Eligible individuals can book their appointments at these sites online, or by calling (toll-free) 1-844-626-8222 (1-844-MAN-VACC).