As Manitoba moves to loosen COVID-19 restrictions later this week, health officials say another three Mantiobans with the virus have died and 75 more infections have been identified across the province.
Tuesday’s new cases include 51 infections in the Winnipeg Health region, five cases in the Southern Health region, zero cases in the Prairie Mountain Health region, 16 cases in the Northern Health region, and three cases in the Interlake-Eastern Health region.
The virus’s latest victims include a man in his 60s from the Prairie Mountain Health region, and two women from the Winnipeg Health region, one in her 60s and another in her 70s.
Since the virus was first identified in Manitoba last March 853 people have now died and 30,360 cases have been reported.
Across the province 1,597 cases remain active, according to provincial data.
Earlier in the day Tuesday Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister announced his government is easing some of its COVID-19 restrictions as case numbers decline.
Monday’s reported 53 new cases of the virus are the lowest daily case numbers seen in Manitoba since mid-October. On Tuesday the province’s five-day test positivity rate was 5.4 per cent, while the rate was 4.3 per cent in Winnipeg.
Hospitalization rates have also dropped since the province brought in significant restrictions in the fall in an effort to stem a rapid increase in infections and deaths.
On Tuesday the province said there are now 266 people in hospital as a result of novel coronavirus and 33 patients in ICU connected to the virus
Under the changes to health orders that start Friday, restaurants will be allowed to open for in-person dining for the first time since November, at 25 per cent capacity. Customers will only be allowed to sit with members of their household.
Gyms, indoor rinks, museums, libraries, tattoo parlours will also be free to open at 25 per cent capacity.
Indoor religious services will be allowed to resume at 10 per cent capacity or 50 people, whichever is lower.
Chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, said while case numbers have been dropping, the province has recorded its first case of the B.1.1.7. variant, which was first discovered in the U.K.
He said the case was linked directly to travel and the patient has recovered since first testing positive Jan. 22.
The province says those initial test results were sent to the National Microbiology Laboratory for DNA sequencing and were returned late in the day Monday.
The province said there is no evidence that the variant is spreading in Manitoba.
Based on the evidence so far, researchers believe the B.1.1.7 lineage that was first discovered in the United Kingdom is up to 70 per cent more contagious than other variants. It is not yet clear, however, if it causes more severe illness or is more lethal.
Meanwhile, provincial health officials said Tuesday that previously declared COVID-19 outbreaks have ended at Beacon Hill Lodge and Charleswood Care Centre in Winnipeg, at Rock Lake Hospital in Crystal City and at Northern Spirit Manor in Thompson.
According to provincial data 1,322 tests were completed Monday, bringing the total number of lab tests completed since early February 2020 to 492,213.
— With files from Saba Aziz of Global News and The Canadian Press
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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