A woman in her 30s in the Southern Health region is one of a dozen more Manitobans who have died from COVID-19, the province said in a news release on Thursday.

The latest deaths, which bring Manitoba’s total fatalities to 617, were announced as the province reported 244 new cases of the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

Meanwhile, the number of people in hospital and intensive care with COVID-19 were down slightly on Thursday.

There are now 346 people in hospital who have tested positive for COVID-19, the release said. Of those, 254 are still considered infectious and 92 are no longer contagious but still require care.

There are also 41 people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in intensive care, including 35 whose cases are considered active and six who are no longer infectious, the release said.

Manitoba saw a slight drop in COVID-19 hospitalizations on Thursday. (Bryce Hoye/CBC)

An outbreak has been declared at St. Boniface Hospital’s E5 medicine unit, as well as Deer Lodge Centre and Calvary Place personal care home in Winnipeg, the release said. Outbreaks at Bridgepark Manor in Steinbach, the Buhler Active Living Centre in Winkler and the Grace Hospital’s units 2 South and 3 North in Winnipeg have been declared over.

The province also said the drive-thru COVID-19 test site in Winkler at 485 George Ave. will close at 6 p.m. on Thursday due to staffing issues and reopen with regular hours on Friday.

Holiday hours for other test sites vary, with some closed on certain days over the next week, while others have reduced hours of operation.

All of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority’s sites will be open regular hours throughout the holidays, including Christmas and New Year’s Day, with the exception of the Thunderbird House testing site, which is closed Dec. 25 and Jan. 1.

Hours for other sites are listed on the province’s website.

The five-day test positivity rate — a rolling average of the COVID-19 tests that come back positive — is now 10.6 per cent in both Winnipeg and Manitoba as a whole, the province’s news release said.

Most of the deaths announced Thursday are in the Winnipeg health region. They include a woman in her 50s, a woman and two men in their 60s, two women and a man in their 80s, and two women in their 90s.

The remaining deaths announced Thursday are a woman in her 80s from the Southern Health region and a man in his 80s from the Northern health region, the release said.

Just under half the new cases announced Thursday (114) are also in the Winnipeg health region, the release said. The remaining new cases are split between the Interlake-Eastern health region (44), the Southern Health region (42), the Northern Health region (41) and the Prairie Mountain Health region (three).

The new cases bring the total number identified in Manitoba to 23,624. Those cases include 18,518 who are considered recovered and 4,489 who are still deemed active, though Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin has previously said that number is inflated because of a data entry backlog.

Information about possible public exposures to COVID-19 cases are listed by region on the province’s website.

There were 2,163 COVID-19 tests completed in the province on Wednesday, the release said, which brings the total number done since early February to 411,618.

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