New COVID-19 deaths include 2 First Nations people in 20s as Manitoba announces 189 cases

Two people in their 20s have died due to COVID-19 — one due to a coronavirus variant — as 189 new cases were reported in Manitoba today.

The three deaths announced by provincial officials Wednesday were a woman in her 20s from the Northern Health Region, a man in his 20s from Winnipeg who had an unspecified more contagious variant, and a woman in her 100s from Southern Health who had the B117 variant originally detected in the U.K.

So far, 971 Manitobans have died of COVID-19, including six deaths linked to variants.

A bulletin from the Manitoba First Nations COVID-19 pandemic response co-ordination team later Wednesday afternoon confirmed that two First Nations people in their 20s had died from COVID-19.

That bulletin also said 36 more First Nations people have tested positive for COVID-19 — 18 on-reserve and 18 off-reserve. More than one-third of Manitoba’s known active cases — 798 — are First Nations people, the First Nations pandemic team says.

The province also reported Wednesday that the total number of variant cases to date also increased to 1,688 from 1,641. Of Manitoba’s 2,206 active cases, 656 are variants. Most are B117 and located in Winnipeg.

The news comes as Manitoba enters a four-week stretch of restrictions on Wednesday, brought in to slow the tide of rising daily case counts and hospitalizations.

For the second day in a row, the provincial test positivity is 7.5 per cent — twice what it was a month ago — and it’s 8.4 per cent in Winnipeg. 

At least 134 people are in hospital due to COVID-19, not including people in Prairie Mountain Health, which has experienced issues with its data systems, the province says.

Manitoba’s daily case count has been rising for weeks. The seven-day average was 190 on Wednesday, about 2½ times what it was one month ago.

Of the cases announced Wednesday, most — 124 — were in Winnipeg. Another 27 were reported in Prairie Mountain Health, 17 in Interlake-Eastern, 16 in Southern Health and five in Northern Health.

Members of Manitoba’s vaccine task force also expanded vaccine eligibility on Wednesday to three more at-risk hot spots. Anyone 18 and up living in Brandon’s downtown health district and more parts of Winnipeg, including St. Johns, Wolseley and the West End, is now eligible.

The same goes for workers in select public-facing jobs in those areas, including teachers, child-care workers, grocery store workers and more.

WATCH | Vaccine rollout plan after high-priority areas:

Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of Manitoba’s vaccine task force, said Monday the province expects to drop age-based eligibility criteria “quite rapidly” after the task force has finished announcing the vaccine priority access areas. 0:57

Nearly 35 per cent of Manitobans 18 and up have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of Manitoba’s vaccine rollout, said the current evidence suggests a single dose offers 80 per cent protection against infection. It’s even more effective at preventing severe outcomes, including hospitalization and death.

She encouraged Manitobans to talk with those in their lives about getting vaccinated.

“For me, the vaccine means hopefully being able to see my parents again sometime soon,” she said.

“It also means knowing that my patients are protected … that I am not increasing their risks by potentially spreading the virus to them.”

WATCH | Building confidence in Manitoba areas with greater vaccine hesitancy:

Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of Manitoba’s vaccine task force, said Monday the province is working to build relationships with community leaders who can act as “champions” for COVID-19 vaccination in areas where there is greater hesitancy to get a vaccine. 1:21

WATCH | Full news conference on COVID-19 | April 28, 2021:

Provincial officials give update on COVID-19 outbreak: Wednesday, April 28, 2021. 53:03

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