Oxford House, Island Lake and Thompson health districts lead north in new COVID-19 cases Dec. 17

Manitoba announced 221 new cases of COVID-19 Dec. 17, close to a quarter of which were in the Northern Regional Health Authority (NRHA).

The Bunibonibee/Oxford House/Manto Sipi/God’s River/God’s lake health district is the current hot spot for new cases of the virus in the north, with 24 new cases reported on Thursday and 102 active cases. There were also 14 new cases in the Island Lake health district, which now has 193 active cases, and 10 in Thompson/Mystery Lake, which has 52 active cases. The Shamattawa/York Factory/Tataskweyak/Split Lake health district has the most active cases of COVID-19 in the north, at 256. A net increase fo 51 cases was reported in the north on Thursday, including 53 new cases and two previously reported cases being removed from the total.

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The total active cases count in the north is 747 and there are 40 people from the region in hospital, three of whom are in intensive care. Manitoba chief nursing officer Lanette Siragusa said at a media briefing on Thursday that members of a remote northern community have been evacuated to Winnipeg but didn’t name which community they were from.

Across the province, 14 more deaths from COVID-19 were reported Dec. 17, making the total since the pandemic began 537. The five-day test positivity rate is 13 per cent and there are 314 people in hospital being treated for COVID-19, 42 of them in intensive care. 

There have now been 22,047 cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba since the pandemic began.

Chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said that hospitalizations will not begin to drop until at least two weeks after new case numbers have dropped and that the number of deaths could level off at that point too, though many of them are among residents of personal care homes and are therefore a result of transmission within a particular facility rather than transmission in Manitoba as a whole. He also said that new cases continue to be linked to gatherings such as funerals and also to members of multigenerational households catching the virus from each other because they can’t effectively self-isolate. He couldn’t give any timelines as to when various groups of Manitobans might begin to be vaccinated because it depends on the availability of vaccines. Manitoba received its first shipments of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Dec. 16 and began vaccinating critical health care workers.

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