Two more Manitobans were reported dead on Sunday as a result of COVID-19.

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Two more Manitobans were reported dead on Sunday as a result of COVID-19.

A total of 907 Manitobans have now died of the virus.

The additional deaths were again a reminder of how older Manitobans continue to bear the brunt the virus's most deadly effects.

Sunday's deaths were both identified in the Winnipeg region and included a woman in her 80s linked to an outbreak at Actionmarguerite St. Boniface and a woman in her 90s linked to an outbreak at River East Personal Care Home.

On Friday, Health Minister Heather Stefanson announced 17 recommendations to strengthen the long-term care sector in Manitoba, following a review of the spread of COVID-19 at Maples Long Term Care Home — where 56 deaths were linked to an outbreak.

Stefanson said a team has been put in place to develop a response plan within 30 days for implementing changes at all Manitoba personal care homes.

Active COVID-19 case numbers have dropped significantly in recent weeks, but outbreak protocols still remain in place at 10 personal care homes facilities in the province.

Public health officials announced 56 new active cases of the virus on Sunday.

Of the newly identified active cases, 24 are in the Winnipeg region, 27 are in the Northern region, three cases have been reported in Southern Health and a single case has been confirmed in both Interlake-Eastern and Prairie Mountain Health. A total of 159 people are hospitalized with the virus. Twenty-two patients remain in intensive care.

As loosened public health restrictions came into effect this weekend, Sunday's reported test positivity rate remains low. The current five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate is 3.3 per cent provincially and 2.3 per cent in Winnipeg.

The loosened restrictions remain in effect until March 26.

Laboratory testing numbers show 1,677 tests were completed yesterday, bringing the total number of lab tests completed since early February 2020 to 537,369. The province said on Sunday that the total number of cases of concerning COVID-19 variants remains at nine.

Selkirk's vaccination super site opens Monday. Appointments can now be booked at the Selkirk site along with existing super site locations in Winnipeg, Brandon and Thompson.

Vaccine eligibility criteria was expanded on Friday to include individuals aged 85 or older or First Nation people aged 65 or older.

The first 18,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are expected to arrive in Manitoba this week and will then be distributed to participating medical clinics and pharmacies.

Health Canada also authorized the use of the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine on Friday.

The province expects to be able to provide a single shot of the vaccine to all adult Manitobans as early as May 18.

grant.burr@freepress.mb.ca