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While Winnipeggers flocked to shop for non-essential goods after some pandemic restrictions were lifted Saturday, Manitoba's north continued to bear the brunt of new COVID-19 infections.


Just over half of the cases identified Saturday — 118 of 216 — were in Manitoba's north.


Fifty were identified in the Winnipeg health region; 22 in the Interlake health region; 12 in the Prairie Mountain health region; and 14 in the Southern health region.


Three people from Winnipeg died, including a man in his 60s, a woman in her 70s and a woman in her 80s.


There are 3,372 active case in Manitoba, with 272 people in hospital. Twenty-six are in intensive care.


The current five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate is 9.8 per cent provincially and 6.5 per cent in Winnipeg.


Some code-red restrictions that were implemented in November — mandating the closure of non-essential businesses, banning in-person purchases of non-essential goods and prohibiting public and private gatherings — were lifted in Manitoba Saturday except in the northern health region, where cases are surging.


On Friday, acting deputy chief public health officer Dr. Jazz Atwal said the province is working with leaders in Thompson and Lynn Lake to stem the virus's spread in the north.


Public health officials are involved in every community that is reporting active cases, as well as working with the First Nations Inuit Health Branch and local tribal councils, to support outbreaks on First Nations, Atwal said Friday.


At the time, Atwal could not predict the impact on hospitals in the north where the virus is surging, but said the population in the region skews younger, meaning infections are less impactful.