Public-health officials are confirming the first known cases in Manitoba of the highly contagious South African variant strain of the COVID-19 virus.

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Public-health officials are confirming the first known cases in Manitoba of the highly contagious South African variant strain of the COVID-19 virus.

In a release sent Tuesday, the province said two cases of the B.1.351 variant have been detected here.

This variant, like the B.1.1.7 mutation that originated in the United Kingdom, is considered to be more transmissible than the coronavirus circulating in the community.

In addition, a sixth case of the B.1.1.7 variant has also been detected in Manitoba, officials said. All cases were in the Winnipeg region and no other details were provided.

Manitoba also reported two more COVID-19 related deaths and 64 new cases Tuesday.

A man in his 70s from the Interlake-Eastern health region and a Winnipeg man in his 50s, connected to an outbreak at Seven Oaks Hospital, have died after being infected with the virus.

New cases were reported in all health regions, including 36 in Winnipeg, 16 in Northern Health, seven in Southern Health-Sante Sud, three in Interlake-Eastern and two in Prairie Mountain.

The five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate is four per cent provincially and 3.2 per cent in Winnipeg. Just 1,307 tests were performed Monday at laboratories.

Meanwhile, 187 people were in hospital as of Tuesday morning receiving treatment for COVID-19, including 25 patients in intensive care. Of those patients, 69 are still infectious.

The province also said an outbreak at St. Boniface Hospital in Unit A6 has been declared over.

— Staff