Edmonton zone has more active COVID-19 cases than any other zone in Alberta

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WATCH ABOVE: It's a statistic no region wants to hit: the Edmonton zone has the highest number of active COVID-19 cases in Alberta. With numbers rising in the area, Lisa MacGregor looks at why that could be and whether officials should hit the panic button.

The Edmonton zone had the highest number of active COVID-19 cases in Alberta as of Thursday afternoon. It’s a statistic no city wants to hit.

While all other Alberta zones appear to be flattening the curve, the Edmonton zone has seen an increase.

In June, there were 688 COVID-19 cases in the Edmonton zone. In July, there were 1,252 and as of Aug. 13, there were 2,166. That means the Edmonton zone has seen the number of total cases in the region more than triple in two months.

Read more: Edmonton COVID-19 trend shows jump in active cases, more young people testing positive

Dr. Craig Jenne, a University of Calgary infectious disease specialist, said the rise in numbers shows there is higher circulation of the virus in the Edmonton zone, but testing is also part of the equation since capacity has gone up by almost 50 per cent over the last month.

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“We test a lot of people in Alberta, which means we’ll probably find more cases,” Jenne said.

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“But we do see that we have a higher hospitalization rate as well, which suggests that it’s not just identifying asymptomatic people, but there are more potentially sick people per capita here.

“The small outbreaks — single eateries, single businesses or a handful of businesses — would be enough to make Edmonton a hot spot temporarily.”

READ MORE: 76 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alberta on Thursday, 3 additional deaths

If Edmonton sees a significant spike, the city said it may consider different restrictions and closures, but for now, there are no changes to current measures.

“While it’s absolutely concerning that the numbers are going up, the numbers are going up in a traceable fashion,” interim city manager Adam Laughlin said.

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said many of the recent cases in the Edmonton area have spread within households, adding one thing that stands out is the age group of new cases — the median age in Edmonton is 30.

READ MORE: Hinshaw urges Alberta teachers to get tested for COVID-19 ahead of school reopenings

Alberta Health said Thursday that an additional 76 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in the province, as well as three additional deaths.

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The Edmonton zone continues to have more active cases than any other zone in the province as the number of active cases in that city climbed slightly to 475 on Thursday.