Nearly 300 cases of highly contagious COVID-19 variants have been detected thus far in Manitoba.

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Nearly 300 cases of highly contagious COVID-19 variants have been detected thus far in Manitoba.

Twenty-two more cases had been confirmed via secondary screening as of Wednesday, bringing the total to 299, most of them the B.1.1.7 variant (first identified in the U.K.).

The province announced 109 new COVID-19 cases, and one pandemic death: a man in his 90s from Winnipeg.

The increase in cases is happening primarily in the North. There were 49 new cases in the Northern Health region, 51 in Winnipeg, four in Prairie Mountain, three in Interlake-Eastern, and two in Southern Health.

The province's COVID-19 death toll rose to 943.

Hospitalization rates were relatively unchanged. There were 140 Manitobans in hospital due to COVID-19, and most of them are no longer infectious, officials said. There were 32 patients in ICUs (14 active cases and 18 who are no longer contagious).

A hospital outbreak was declared at Health Sciences Centre unit GD4 in Winnipeg.

The province expanded vaccine eligibility Wednesday to all Manitobans 62 and older, and First Nations people 42 and older. New Manitoba residents who meet the age requirements can receive the vaccine for free, as long as they've been living in the province for at least a month.

Clinics and pharmacies received a new shipment of 54,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Doctors and pharmacists are administering that vaccine to people 55-plus — including those 55 to 64 who have serious health conditions, and anyone over 64, particularly those who can't travel to mass immunization supersites or pop-up clinics.