Two more Winnipeggers have died due to COVID-19, but there are signs the province's vaccine uptake is having benefits, officials say.

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Two more Winnipeggers have died due to COVID-19, but there are signs the province's vaccine uptake is having benefits, officials say.

Dr. Jazz Atwal, deputy chief provincial public health officer, said a woman in her 80s and a woman in her 90s are the latest victims to succumb to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, the latter due to the B.1.1.7 variant of concern.

"Our case numbers are headed in a good direction and our vaccination rates are increasing," Atwal said during a news conference Friday. "But we continue to see strain on our health-care system and we continue to transfer patients out of the province for care.

"It is important we continue to stay home when sick and go for testing and self isolate along with your household until your test result comes back."

However, Atwal said even though hospital admissions will remain high during the next two weeks, there are signs the vaccination rollout is working.

"The majority of people in ICU are people who have not got the vaccine," he said. "This could be for a number of reasons... We are not sharing this information to blame people, but to show the importance and power of getting vaccinated.

"For example, between June 1 and June 6, 151 people were admitted to hospital, of which 73 per cent were never vaccinated. And another seven per cent had one dose of the vaccine and got COVID infection less than 14 days from the vaccination date," Atwal said.

"This means 80 per cent of the people admitted to hospital during this week never had immunity to COVID-19. In contrast, only 1.6 per cent of hospital admissions were in those vaccinated with two doses, and none of those who were fully vaccinated entered the ICU."

As of Friday morning, there were 276 people in Manitoba hospitals due to COVID; 63 of them in intensive care.

As well, there were 30 Manitobans being treated in ICUs outside of the province: 27 in Ontario, one in Saskatchewan and two in Alberta.

Atwal said there are a further 43 patients (31 of them on oxygen) being treated at home as part of a residential care program.

The current five-day test positivity rate was 10.6 per cent across the province, and 11 per cent in Winnipeg alone.

More than 223 new cases of the virus were identified Friday, with the total number of lab confirmed cases at 53,872 since the pandemic arrived in Manitoba.

Of the new cases, 126 were in the Winnipeg health region, 36 in Southern Health, 27 in Northern Health, 20 in Interlake-Eastern, and 14 in Prairie Mountain.

There were 3,490 active cases of the virus in the province.

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.

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