Manitoba health officials say all three of the province’s latest COVID-19 deaths had been stricken with more-contagious variants of concern.
Two of the latest victims — a woman in her 60s from the Prairie Mountain Health region and a woman in her 60s from the Winnipeg Health region — are connected to the Alpha variant, first identified in the United Kingdom, according to a provincial release Friday.
The third death, a man in his 80s from the Southern Health region, is linked to an unspecified variant, health officials said.
Manitoba’s COVID-19 death toll now sits at 1,170.
The province also announced 41 new COVID-19 cases Friday, bringing Manitoba’s total cases reported since March 2020 to 57,359.
Health officials say 1,496 lab tests for the virus were completed Thursday.
Nearly half of the new cases — 19 infections — were found in the Interlake-Eastern Health district, while 13 new cases were reported from the Winnipeg Health region, four cases were found in the Southern Health region, three came from the Prairie Mountain Health region, and two were reported in the Northern Health region.
The five-day test positivity rate sits at 3.0 per cent provincially and 2.1 per cent in Winnipeg.
There are currently 537 active COVID-19 cases in Manitoba, including 285 confirmed to involve variants of concern.
A provincial site tracking variants shows of the active variant cases, 85 are the Alpha variant, 39 are the Delta strain first identified in India, two are the Gamma variant first detected in Brazil, and 159 are as yet unspecified.
Since the first variant case was discovered in Manitoba in mid-February the province has recorded 16,455 confirmed cases and 174 deaths have been linked to the more contagious strains.
Meanwhile, health officials say there are currently 106 Manitobans in hospital as a result of COVID-19, including 24 in critical care.
Manitoba reported 56 new cases and one additional death Thursday.
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.
For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, visit our coronavirus page.