Daily COVID case numbers coming down but test positivity rate still high: public health officer

Manitoba reported five new COVID-19 related deaths and 118 new cases of the virus Jan. 4.

There have now been more than 25,000 positive tests for the virus since the pandemic began last spring and 688 Manitobans have died from their infections.

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The five-day test positivity rate on Monday was 10.7 per cent provincewide and 1,275 people were tested for the virus the previous day.

There are 340 Manitobans in hospital due to the virus, 95 of whom are no longer considered infectious. Of these, 41 are in intensive care, including six who are no longer considered infectious. Thirty of 65 people on ventilators in Manitoba hospitals on Monday morning were hospitalized due to COVID-19, with four of them no longer considered infectious.

Five new cases of the virus were reported in the Northern Regional Health Authority, which has now had a total of 2,179 positive tests since the pandemic began, and 968 of the cases are still considered active. The Shamattawa/York Factory/Tataskweyak/Split Lake health district has the highest number of active cases with 325, followed by the Northern (formerly Island Lake) health district with 254 and the Bunibonibee/Oxford House/Manto Sipi/God’s River/God’s Lake health district with 192. No other district has more than 100 active cases. There were 44 active cases in the Thompson/Mystery Lake health district on Jan. 4.

Twenty-one northerners are in hospital due to the active COVID-19 infections, while there are three more hospitalized due to the virus who are no longer considered infectious. Four of the northerners in hospital are in intensive care.

Twenty-one northern residents have died from the virus, including seven since Dec. 23, these include a male in his 50s, a male in his 60s, a male in his 70s, a male in his 80s, two females in their 70s and one female in her 80s. One of the females in her 70s who died was a case related to the outbreak declared at Thompson General Hospital while the woman in her 80s was a case related to an outbreak at George Colon Memorial personal care home in Bunibonibee Cree Nation (BCN).

New possible public exposures to the virus were also announced over the holidays, including one on a Perimeter Aviation flight from Winnipeg to Oxford House Dec. 22 and others on Northway Aviation flights from God’s Lake Narrows to BCN and BCN to St. Andrew’s Dec. 18.

There was also a confirmed case present at the University College of the North campus in Thompson on Dec. 14, when the person may have been infectious, though public health said the exposure was deemed to be low risk.

Manitoba chief nursing officer Lanette Siragusa said Jan. 4 that the outbreak at St. Anthony’s Hospital in The Pas was declared over on the weekend.

Chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said while case numbers are coming down, the positivity rate remains high and that he does not know when this week new public health orders will be announced to replace those expiring Jan. 8 or what exactly they will look like. He also said that it was too early to tell what effect people gathering over the holidays will have on virus transmission rates.

Close to 7,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be administered in Manitoba next week, possibly including some for personal care home residents. The province also has 5,300 doses of the Moderna vaccine set aside for remote communities and are making plans to deliver those doses in consultation with First Nations leaders, Roussin said.

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