COVID-19 update: Cases spike in Manitoba, Sask., far north Sask now case-free

Thursday saw big increases in COVID-19 cases in Manitoba and Saskatchewan - 25 in Manitoba, 27 in Saskatchewan - but also, some good news for far north Saskatchewan.

In Manitoba, cases are centred mostly around Winnipeg and southwestern Manitoba, with seven cases in the provincial capital and 12 cases in Prairie Mountain Health and six in Southern Health-Sante Sud. Seven Manitobans are hospitalized due to COVID-19, with three of them in intensive care. Throughout the province, 218 people currently have COVID-19. Nine more people have recovered from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.

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Most of the cases in Prairie Mountain Health have been centred Brandon, with several cases connected to businesses in the community. A Maple Leaf meat processing plant has been one of the centres of the disease as of late; while provincial health officials have not named the plant specifically, 26 cases have been linked to a Brandon-area business thought to be the plant.

Information released by the province showed cases of all ages, including five cases found in children nine years old or younger. 

The province has shifted its directives on testing, going from having tests being available to all people interested in getting one to recommending that only people with COVID-19 symptoms should be tested. Since the pandemic began, 108,211 tests have been conducted in Manitoba, including 1,817 July 12.

In Saskatchewan, another 27 cases were found Thursday. Much like Manitoba, cases have been centred around southern communities, with 18 cases in the south west, four in the south central region and two in Regina. The remaining three cases were found in Saskatoon. Of the 27 cases, 22 were linked to what the province has called "communal living settings", the province's description of Hutterite communities.

Eleven people have recovered from the disease in the past day. Ten people are in hospital with COVID-19, including five in intensive care.

One note of interest came from the Saskatchewan government's own COVID-19 mapping, which showed the only remaining cases of the disease in the far north - located in a community in the western region - has recovered, meaning the region is now, for the moment, free of COVID-19.

While the far north west region has seen more COVID-19 cases than any other Saskatchewan region during the pandemic, few cases have been reported recently. At one point, far north Saskatchewan was had the most per-capita cases of any region in Canada due to outbreaks in the western area of the far north, centred around La Loche and surrounding communities.

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