Health officials say another two Manitobans have died from COVID-19 and 261 more have been infected as case numbers swell in the north.
The latest cases announced on the province’s online COVID-19 portal Thursday bring the province’s total number of cases reported since March to 26,954 after health officials say two previously announced cases were removed due to a data correction.
Since March, 755 Manitobans have died from COVID-19.
The latest victims in include a man in his 60s from the Winnipeg Health region and a man in his 90s from the Prairie Mountain Health region connected to an outbreak at the McCreary/Alonsa Health Centre.
More than half of the new infections reported Thursday — 139 — were identified in the Northern Health region, health officials said.
Manitoba’s acting deputy chief provincial public health officer, Dr. Jazz Atwal said the spike in cases in northern Manitoba are in part due to people getting together despite public health orders banning members of different households from gathering.
“Some of these are cases and contacts in larger household where maybe one person while they were symptomatic went into another household to visit, and had some spread,” he said during a call with media Thursday.
“I’m not saying all cases are related to that, but there is some evidence of that.”
Atwal says cases are climbing in Lynn Lake, Garden Hill First Nation, and Thompson.
The other new cases include 75 in the Winnipeg Health region, 13 in the Southern Health region, 23 in the Prairie Mountain Health region, and 11 cases in the Interlake-Eastern Health region.
The province announced Thursday it will now be using text messaging to support COVID-19 case and contact monitoring, in addition to phone calls from contact tracers and automated phone messages.
“Text messages for monitoring will be used in combination with support for members of the Manitoba government’s contact tracing team throughout the isolation period,” Atwal said.
“It will provide recipients with an opportunity to confirm their isolation status, report changes and their symptoms, and request direct contact from a contact tracer.”
According to the province there are currently 117 people in hospital with COVID-19 as well as 173 who remain in care but are no longer considered active cases, for a total of 289 hospitalizations as of Thursday morning.
There are 16 COVID-19 patients in ICU, with another 21 who are no longer infectious but continue to need critical care, for a total of 37 patients in ICU.
The province says a new outbreak has been declared at Rock Lake Hospital in Crystal City, but the outbreak is declared over at Gilbert Plains Personal Care Home in Gilbert Plains.
The five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate was 10 per cent provincially and 7.1 per cent in Winnipeg as of Friday morning.
Health officials say 2,333 tests for novel coronavirus were done Wednesday, bringing the total number of tests done across the province since February to 446,018.
There were 2,866 active cases of COVID-19 across Manitoba on Thursday, according to provincial data, but Atwal said the number of active cases is likely closer to 1,394 due to a backlog in case monitoring.
Manitoba announced 155 new cases and five additional deaths from the virus on Wednesday.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.
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