Three more COVID-19 cases involving U.K. variant found in Manitoba, officials say

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WINNIPEG — Manitoba health officials say three more people have tested positive for the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant first found in the United Kingdom.

Dr. Jazz Atwal, the acting deputy chief public health officer, says the three cases are all separate, are all related to international travel, and the infected people have all recovered.

Previously, only one case involving the variant had been found in the province.

Atwal did not reveal the location of the new variant cases, and would only say they are not in First Nations communities.

He says each case had between four and 24 contacts, who are being monitored, and there is no evidence of any community spread of the variant.

Overall, Manitoba reported 90 additional COVID-19 cases and two deaths.

One death reported in December was removed from the province's total of 880 Friday after further investigation determined it was not due to COVID-19.

Atwal said Manitobans should not be alarmed about the new cases involving B.1.1.7.

"Our case and contact management is aggressive with this," he said.

"We're really going after the case. We're really going after those contacts and making sure that they are self-isolating properly."

Manitoba also recently tightened its travel rules. People entering the province from anywhere else must self-isolate, with some exceptions that include truckers, aircrews and medical workers.

While case numbers have been dropping in most areas of Manitoba, some northern communities have seen a sharp increase.

Cross Lake First Nation officials posted a bulletin on the community's website that said three community events in early February — a wake, a funeral and a birthday party — led to 54 infections in the following days.

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs urged people Friday to stay safe and follow COVID-19 guidelines.

"That's what our numbers are showing us, is that the threat is still very real for us and in some cases it's increasing," Grand Chief Arlen Dumas said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 19, 2021.

Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press