Manitoba health officials announced the province’s highest one-day jump in COVID-19 cases Friday, 24 hours before many Manitobans prepare to gather for Christmas.
Data on the province’s website shows 742 new infections were identified across the province as of Friday morning, surpassing the province’s previous one-day case count record of 603 set May 20.
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The province reported 556 cases Thursday, 400 cases Wednesday, and 302 infections on Tuesday.
News of the record-setting case count had been tempered by chief provincial health officer Dr. Brent Roussin at at a press conference earlier in the day.
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Roussin warned about the expected high case load and said the count is likely an underestimate, as the province’s testing system is at capacity and there’s a current backlog of 10,000 tests.
Roussin estimated 10 per cent of the backlogged tests are positive cases.
At the press conference, Health Minister Audrey Gordon said she strongly recommends Manitobans limit their close contacts over the holidays, but no new restrictions were announced.
Four new cases of the Omicron variant were reported for a total of 22, but Roussin has said there are likely considerably more cases of the variant in Manitoba.
He encouraged young people under the age of 40 to stay home and isolate if they have cold or flu-like symptoms, saying `”you can assume you have Omicron.’”
Health officials also announced another death Friday, a woman in her 40s from the Winnipeg Health region, bringing the province’s COVID-19 death toll to 1,370.
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The majority of Friday’s new cases — 528 infections — were found in the Winnipeg Health region.
Another 71 cases were reported in the Southern Health region, 72 were found in the Prairie Mountain Health region, 23 were reported in the Northern Health region and 48 were found in the Interlake-Eastern Health region.
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The province’s five-day test positivity rate is 12.6 per cent, up from 10.9 per cent just a day earlier.
In Winnipeg the five-day test positivity rate is 14.7 per cent, health officials said, more than four points higher than it was at last word Wednesday.
There are now 3,626 known active COVID-19 cases across the province, but Roussin said that number could actually be four times as high due to the backlog in testing and unreported cases.
There are currently 144 Manitobans hospitalized due to COVID-19, down nine from Thursday, with 24 patients in ICU as a result of the virus, four fewer than were reported a day earlier.
Two new outbreaks have been declared at West Park Manor and Heritage Lodge personal care homes in Winnipeg. An outbreak at Holy Family Home has ended, officials said.
The province says 46,657 lab tests for COVID-19 were completed in Manitoba Thursday. Due to the backlog in testing, Roussin said test results are at least four days behind.
Since March 2020, Manitoba has reported 73,573 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of those, 68,577 have since recovered, according to health data.
–With files from The Canadian Press
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To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.
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