Province reports fourth COVID-19 death in the north and youngest Manitoban yet to die from the virus

Manitoba reported COVID-19 deaths in all five of the province’s health regions Nov. 20, including woman in her 50s from The Pas/Opaskwayak Cree Nation/Kelsey health district, the fourth person to die from the virus in the Northern Regional Health Authority.

Eight more deaths were also reported on Friday, including a man in his 20s from Winnipeg. The other people who died included people in their 60s, the 80s and a man in his 100s. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, 207 Manitobans have died from their infections. Sixty per cent of those deaths have occurred since the end of October.

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“Each of these individuals we’ve lost is so much more than a number,” said Manitoba chief nursing officer Lanette Siragusa. “There’s no denying our elderly population is hit the hardest by this virus.”

Chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said the man in his 20s, the youngest person to die from COVID-19 in Manitoba, did have some underlying conditions. The previous youngest Manitoban to die from the virus was a woman in her 30s in the Interlake-Eastman health region, whose death was reported Nov. 17.

Twenty-eight new cases of the virus were reported in the north on Friday, including 15 more in The Pas/OCN/Kelsey, which has now had 299 cases of COVID-19 since the first cases were announced a month ago. There were also five new cases in the Grand Rapids/Mosakahiken/Moose Lake/Easterville/Chemawawin health district, which now has 69 active cases, the second-highest total in Northern Manitoba. Two new cases were reported in both the Island Lake health district and the Thompson/Mystery Lake health district.

Across the province, 438 new cases of COVID-19 were reported on Friday, and there were 243 people in hospital due to the virus, 43 of them in intensive care. Fourteen northerners are in hospital due to the virus as of Nov. 20, none of them in intensive care.

The provincial test positivity rate is 13.7 per cent, down slightly from the past couple of days, but Roussin said that the rate in Steinbach, where there was an anti-mask rally last weekend, is 40 per cent and that the province is seeing 30 to 40 people testing positive there per day recently.

“This is a very concerning number and we need things to change in that area right now,” Roussin said.

Roussin pointed out that some of the difference between now and when the virus first arrived in the spring is the attitude of people towards it and their corresponding behaviour.

“Driving to work today, the streets were full, much different than what we saw in the spring and the current restrictions are much more stringent,” he said. “We need to do better, all of us.”

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