Manitoba public health officials announced 74 new COVID-19 cases and one death on Monday.
The daily caseload is the lowest since April 6, when there were 62 new cases.
The death is a woman in her 80s from the Winnipeg health region, linked to the B.1.1.7 variant of concern and to the outbreak at Seven Oaks General Hospital 3U4-7.
Not included in the daily numbers are the deaths of two more Manitobans who were receiving care in Ontario after being sent out of Manitoba last month to ease the burden on the province’s critical care system.
A spokesperson with Shared Health said a woman in her 60s who was sent out of province on May 26 and a man in his 70s who was moved on May 29 both died.
Those deaths will be reflected in Manitoba’s official COVID-19 fatality count in the coming days, the spokesperson said.
There has now been a total of nine deaths of out-of-province patients since the first people were sent to Ontario in mid-May.
As for the Monday’s daily cases, two-thirds are in the Winnipeg health region, which reported 50.
The next highest is the Southern Health region, with 15. The other health regions — Interlake-Eastern, Northern and Prairie Mountain — each have three.
An outbreak at Boundary Trails Health Centre in Winkler is now over, the province said.
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The five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate has gone from 7.2 per cent in Winnipeg on Sunday to 6.9 on Monday. Provincially, the rate remains at eight per cent, where it was on Sunday.
The numbers are going in the right direction, “however, we are still seeing the effects of this virus,” said Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer, with 10 deaths from Saturday to Monday.
There are 246 Manitobans still hospitalized with COVID-19 in Manitoba and neighbouring provinces, including 73 in intensive care units. Of those, 58 are in Manitoba ICUs, while 14 are in Ontario and one is in Alberta.
“We know that, despite these declining cases over the past week, we still expect hospitalization and ICU numbers to remain high for the coming weeks,” Roussin said.
The seven-day average daily case count is now 136. The highest average during the 15-month pandemic was 482, which was recorded May 22, while the daily caseload hit a high of 603 cases on May 20.
As daily case numbers trend downward, the number of vaccinated people in Manitoba is climbing.
On Monday, the proportion of eligible Manitobans age 12 and up with at least one dose hit 71.2 per cent. The proportion fully vaccinated with two doses was 25.4 per cent.
“We’ve met our target for our first stage of reopening plans now,” Roussin said.
WATCH | Dr. Roussin on workplace COVID-19 transmission rates:
Asked if there will be any public health order changes this weekend, as the current orders are set to expire June 26, he said more information will released on Wednesday.
Roussin and Premier Brian Pallister announced June 10 that if at least 70 per cent of all Manitobans age 12 and older have received their first vaccine dose and 25 per cent have received their second dose by Canada Day, most businesses, services and facilities will be allowed to open at 25 per cent capacity or greater levels.
However, a number of doctors have urged the province to pull back on that reopening plan, saying it does not take into account the highly contagious delta variant. A single vaccine dose has low effectiveness against the B.1617.2 variant, which the World Health Organization has named delta.
The doctors say the percentage of fully vaccinated people — those with two doses — must be much higher before health orders are loosened.
Manitoba will almost certainly face a fourth COVID-19 wave by fall if it follows through with its current reopening plan, the doctors say.
On Tuesday, eligibility for second doses of COVID-19 vaccines will expand to those who got their first shot on or before May 29.
But the percentage of second doses is expected to slow down due to a shortage in shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine — the only one approved for the 12-17 age group.
There are no Pfizer appointments currently available in Winnipeg, although some Pfizer doses are available at walk-in clinics.
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