More than a month of strict restrictions on gatherings and in-person shopping may be having an effect on the COVID-19 pandemic in Manitoba, which reported the lowest number of new daily cases of the virus for nearly two months Dec. 21.
Across the province, there were 167 new positive tests for the virus announced Monday, though the removal of one previous case meant the total number of cases only increased by 166. There have now been 23,025 cases of the virus in the province since the pandemic arrived here last spring. There hasn’t been a lower number of cases in one day since Nov. 1, when there were 142.
Four new deaths related to the virus were announced Dec. 21, bringing the total number of COVID deaths in Manitoba to 572.
The five-day test positivity rate of 11.5 per cent was also the lowest it has been since Remembrance Day, when it was 11 per cent.
There were 25 new cases of the virus in the province’s north, which has had 1,850 total cases since the pandemic began. There are 897 active cases in the region as of Monday, including 282 in the Shamattawa/York Factory/Tataskweyak/Split Lake health district, 233 in the Island Lake health district, 144 in the Bunibonibee/Oxford House/Manto Sipi/God’s River/God’s Lake region, 86 in The Pas/Opaskwayak/Kelsey and 69 in the Thompson/Mystery Lake health district.
Two more deaths of northern residents were announced over the weekend, bringing the total to 14, and there are 34 northerners in hospital, including one in intensive care. An outbreak at Northern Spirit Manor personal care home in Thompson was also announced over the weekend. An additional possible public exposure to the virus occurred on Perimeter Aviation flight 772 from Thompson to Lac Brochet and from Lac Brochet to Tadoule Lake on Dec. 11.
Manitoba chief nursing officer Lanette Siragusa said there were 382 people who have or had COVID-19 in hospital in Manitoba as of Monday, including 310 with active infections and 72 who are past the infectious stage. Forty-nine people were in intensive care due to the virus, with seven of them no longer considered infectious.
Deputy chief provincial public health officer Dr. Jazz Atwal said there are more than 1,400 cases of the virus in First Nations right now, with six communities accounting for more than half the total.
Atwal said Manitobans shouldn’t let the lower number of new cases dec. 21 lull them into a false sense of security and that they should not travel over the holidays.
“Don’t travel to Northern Manitoba or out of the province unless it’s absolutely necessary,” he said.