Manitoba is reporting its highest ever daily COVID-19 case count and health officials say another three Manitobans with the virus have died.
In a release the province said 603 new infections had been identified as of Thursday morning.
The province’s previous highest daily case count — 593 infections — was reported Nov. 22, 2020, according to provincial statistics.
The deaths reported Thursday include a woman in her 40s from the Winnipeg area, a man in his 50s from the Winnipeg area, and a man in his 70s from the Southern Health region.
All but one of the latest victims had been stricken with the B.1.1.7 variant of concern, first identified in the United Kingdom, health official said.
Since March 2020, 1,019 Manitobans with COVID-19 have now died and 46,916 people have contracted the virus.
Of the new cases, 409 were reported in the Winnipeg Health region, 97 were found in the Southern Health region, 41 were identified in the Prairie Mountain Health region, 36 were reported out of the Northern Health region, and 20 were reported in the Interlake-Eastern Health region.
The current five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate is 13.8 per cent provincially and 15.3 per cent in Winnipeg.
As of Thursday, health officials say Manitoba has 4,659 active cases of COVID-19, including 2,546 confirmed to be variants of concern.
The number of people in hospital connected to COVID-19 dropped from 293 reported Wednesday to 291 as of midnight Thursday, according to health data.
Wednesday’s record-setting 80 patients in ICU connected to the virus had fallen to 76 Thursday. A Shared Health spokesperson said the province’s ICU numbers don’t include those who have been transferred out of province for care.
The spokesperson said as of midnight Thursday 125 patients were admitted to Manitoba ICUs, down from a record 131 reported Wednesday.
The normal base-line for Manitoba’s critical care program, before COVID-19, was 72 beds, officials have said.
Earlier in the day Thursday Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said tighter COVID-19 restrictions will be announced going in to the May long weekend after days of surging case numbers that continue to threaten to overload the province’s heath-care system.
Manitoba’s chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, has scheduled a 4 p.m. press conference to announce the new public health orders.
Global News will stream the event live here.
Meanwhile health officials also reported 495 new confirmed cases of variants of concern Thursday.
Since February Manitoba has now recorded 7,636 variant cases, and 43 deaths have been linked to the more-contagious strains.
According to a provincial online database keeping track of variants of concern, the vast majority of the province’s VOC cases — 3,631 — are the B.1.1.7 strain, another 29 are the B.1.351 variant first found in South Africa, 65 are the P.1 variant, first identified in Brazil, and 18 are the B.1.617 variant first detected in India.
The province says 3,893 VOC cases remain as of yet unspecified on the province’s website.