North passes 1,000 active COVID cases with announcement of 60 new positive tests Jan. 7

Northern Manitoba had the second-highest number of new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the province Jan. 7, accounting for 60 of the 208 new cases, behind only the Winnipeg region, which reported 105 new positive tests.

The 22nd death of a northern resident was also announced, a male in his 30s from the Shamattawa/York Factory/Tataskweyak/Split Lake health district. It was the second straight day that the death of a northern resident under the age of 50 was reported.

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Eleven other deaths were also announced on Thursday, taking the total number  of Manitobans who have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began to 717.

Seven previously announced cases were removed from provincial totals due to data corrections, so the net increase in COVID cases on Thursday was 201 and the provincial five-day test positivity rate was below 10 per cent from the first time since early November at 9.9 per cent.

The number of active COVID cases in the Northern Regional Health Authority is now at 1,016 and there have been 2,281 cases in the region since the pandemic began.

Acting deputy chief public health officer Dr. Jazz Atwal said at a media briefing Jan. 7 that the northern cases included some that were confirmations of rapid tests and that about three-quarters of them were from First Nations.

“There’s an uptick in a couple fo communities that are First Nations up north and we’re seeing some activity in a couple of other non First Nations communities as well,” he said. “There’s a handful of cases in Thompson and a couple in Lynn Lake.”

New northern cases reported on Thursday included 20 from the Cross Lake/Pimicikamak health district, 10 from the Island Lake region, seven from the Thompson/Mystery Lake health district, five from The Pas/Opaskwayak/Kelsey health district and four from the Shamattawa/YorkFactory/Tataskweyak/Split Lake district.

Twenty northerners were in hospital due to COVID infections on Thursday, 18 of them with cases considered active, three of whom were receiving intensive care. Provincewide, there are 319 COVID patients in hospital, 91 of whom are not longer considered infectious. Thirty-one patients with active COVID infections are in intensive care along with another four who are no longer considered infectious.

Manitoba chief nursing officer Lanette Siragusa said half of the 52 patients in the province on ventilators as of Thursday have COVID-19.

Atwal said a new set of public health orders would be in place for Jan. 9 to replace the current ones which expire on Friday but didn’t give any hints about their contents except to say that they would aim to avoid creating unnecessary risk for Manitobans while trying to have as little impact as possible. 

“Businesses at this point will have to wait to see what those orders are going to be,” he said.

The highest number of new daily cases since before Christmas was probably attributable in part to holiday gatherings, said Atwal.

“We are still seeing that holiday bump,” he said.

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