Another two Manitobans with COVID-19 have died and health officials say 223 new infections have been identified across the province.
The latest victims are both from the Winnipeg Health region, and include a woman in her 80s and woman in her 90s, linked to the Alpha variant, first identified in the United Kingdom.
Since March 2020, Manitoba has now reported 53,872 cases and 1,089 people with the virus have died.
Friday’s new cases come from across the province, but the majority — 126 — were found in the Winnipeg area.
Another 36 cases were found in the Southern Health region, 27 were identified in the Northern Health region, 20 were found in the Interlake-Eastern Health region, and 14 were found in the in Prairie Mountain Health region.
The current five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate is 10.6 per cent provincially and 11 per cent in Winnipeg.
Health officials say there are currently 3,490 active cases across the province.
Health data shows Manitoba’s hospitalization rates linked to COVID-19 dropped Friday.
There were 306 Manitobans in hospital in Manitoba and neighbouring provinces as of Friday morning, down 10 from the numbers released Thursday.
The province said 63 of those patients are in ICUs in Manitoba, and another 30 are receiving critical care out of province, including 27 in Ontario, one in Saskatchewan and two in Alberta.
Since Manitoba started transporting critically ill COVID-19 patients out of province for care May 18, 23 have returned to hospitals in Manitoba.
Meanwhile, the province said an outbreak previously declared at the surgery unit at Dauphin Regional Health Centre has ended, h
A provincial website tracking the more-contagious strains shows the province has now confirmed 13,255 VOC cases, 151 more than had been reported Thursday.
The most dominant VOC in Manitoba continues to be the Alpha variant, first identified in the United Kingdom, with 5,771 cases.
The province has also recorded 45 cases of the Beta variant, which first emerged in South Africa, 166 cases of the Gamma variant, first detected in Brazil, and 101 cases of the Delta strain, first identified in India.
Another 7,322 variant cases are listed as unspecified on the province’s website.
Laboratory testing numbers show 2267 tests for COVID-19 were completed Thursday, bringing the total number of tests done since February 2020 to 797,359.
On Thursday, as health officials reported 251 new cases and six additional deaths, the province unveiled a reopening plan, which will loosen public health restrictions as more people get vaccinated.
The first immunization target is to have more than 70 per cent of Manitobans aged 12 and up get a first dose, and more than 25 per cent have a second dose by Canada Day.
If that happens, the province said businesses and other facilities will be able to open at 25 per cent capacity.
Businesses will be allowed to open at half capacity if 75 per cent of people have had one dose and 50 per cent have had a second shot by the August long weekend.
The final target calls for 80 per cent of the population to have had one shot and 75 per cent with two shots by Labour Day. In that case, most businesses, services and facilities would be able to open with limited restrictions.
So far, nearly 68 per cent of Manitobans have received a first dose of vaccine.
The province has been under tight public health orders since a delayed third wave caused a significant surge in COVID-19 infections last month.
Manitoba is slightly loosening health orders Saturday to allow small outdoor gatherings, but restrictions on businesses will remain in place.
–With files from 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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