Since the start of 2022, 140 Manitobans have died after catching COVID-19.

Since the start of 2022, 140 Manitobans have died after catching COVID-19.

"It’s tragic, and my condolences and my sympathies go to the family of the loved ones that have been lost in this pandemic," Health Minister Audrey Gordon said Friday during a public health update at the Manitoba Legislative Building.

"Every life is important. We don’t want to lose life as a result of this pandemic and that is why we’re taking the steps that we are as public health, as (a) health system to ensure that we’re learning the lessons of the prior three waves and making changes to ensure individuals recover and are able to return to a good quality of life."

COVID-19 data published by the provincial government show 140 people died from the disease between Jan. 1 and 28.

On Friday, the provincial government announced the deaths of nine more Manitobans, in addition to providing details of 14 COVID-19 deaths reported Thursday.

Nineteen were from the Winnipeg health region and most were 70 or older; eight were connected to outbreaks at personal care homes. Three of the four deaths reported in rural and northern Manitoba were connected to care home outbreaks.

According to the province, the risk of dying after catching COVID-19 is five times greater for people who are unvaccinated, compared to those who have received two doses of the vaccine, based on local data collected over the past six weeks.

Between Jan. 8 and 15, about 58 per cent of the pandemic deaths reported were in people who had not been vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the most recent report from the province. Of the 53 deaths reported that week, 37 were not fully immunized.

Since COVID-19 vaccines became available in Manitoba in mid-December 2020, 110 fully vaccinated people have died from the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, as of Jan. 15.

The province’s pandemic death toll was 1,543, as of Friday.

Gordon encouraged Manitobans to get vaccinated with either their first, second or third dose, and emphasized the need for a booster shot.

Provincial data show receiving two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine reduces the risk of needing critical care by 19 times, compared to someone who is unvaccinated. Getting three doses of the vaccine reduces the risk by 139 times, according to the province.

While speaking with reporters Friday, Opposition NDP Leader Wab Kinew also acknowledged the many Manitobans who died this month after catching COVID-19, and expressed his condolences to families, friends and communities in mourning.

"Given the context that we’re in right now, it also speaks to the continued severity of this surge of COVID-19. And when you look at the increase to hospitalizations, as well and what’s happening with ICUs, it does underline the importance of us continuing to take those steps to keep one another safe in the community," Kinew said.

As of Friday, Manitoba had the second-highest COVID-19 death rate in the country after Quebec, with 111 deaths per 100,000 people.

Danielle Da Silva

Danielle Da Silva

Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.