Alberta reports new daily record of 1,731 COVID-19 cases, 5 deaths Saturday

WATCH ABOVE: Alberta's Minister of Justice and Solicitor General, Kaycee Madu, joined chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, to provide an update on the COVID-19 situation in the province on Friday.

Alberta recorded a new daily high of 1,731 COVID-19 cases on Saturday after conducting over 21,657 tests over the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of active COVID-19 cases to 14,931.

Four-hundred-15 people were reported in hospital with COVID-19 — 88 of those in ICUs.

There were five new COVID-19-related deaths reported on Saturday.

READ MORE: Jason Kenney says COVID-19 vaccination will not be mandatory in Alberta

From the Calgary Zone, a woman in her 80s who had additional comorbidities and was linked to the Generations Calgary outbreak died Friday and a man in his 80s with unknown additional comorbidities died Nov. 16.

There were three deaths in the Edmonton Zone: a woman in her 80s who had additional comorbidities and was linked to the Edmonton General Care Centre outbreak died Friday, another woman in her 80s with unknown comorbidities also died Friday and a man in his 70s with no known comorbidities died Wednesday.

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The total number of deaths connected to the virus in Alberta since the start of the pandemic was at 524 as of Saturday.

Alberta Health said there can be a delay in a death being reported or in a death being confirmed as having COVID-19 as a contributing cause.

Recently, the Alberta government has started releasing more information about the people who have died, including if they had underlying health conditions that may have contributed to their death — also known as “comorbidities.”

Click to play video: 'Concern mounting as Alberta hospitalizations, ICU rates keep rising'
Concern mounting as Alberta hospitalizations, ICU rates keep rising

READ MORE: More peace officers to enforce COVID-19 restrictions as Alberta records 1,227 new cases

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On Tuesday, Premier Jason Kenney declared the province’s second public health emergency since the pandemic began, announcing new restrictions in response to a startling surge in COVID-19 cases this month.

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Alberta’s justice minister said Friday that the government is empowering an additional 700 peace officers in the province to be able to issue fines against people who break the rules.

“This is not my preference,” Kaycee Madu said at a news conference in Edmonton. “(But we need) to respond quickly and decisively to situations where Albertans are breaking health measures.”

Watch below: Some videos of Dr. Deena Hinshaw speaking at a news conference on Friday afternoon.

Madu said the increase in the number of peace officers who can issue fines is only temporary and said the government worked to strike “a balanced approach” that protects Albertans’ health while minimizing the impact to their personal freedoms.

Among the new measures announced earlier this week is a blanket ban on gatherings in homes involving people who don’t live there.

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“Private gatherings are the obvious place to start,” Madu said. “An estimated 40 per cent of traceable COVID(-19) cases can be linked to private social gatherings.

“Those who choose to break the rules will be subject to fines,” Madu said, reminding Albertans those fines can range from $1,000 to $100,000.

To facilitate the ramping up of the province’s enforcement capabilities, Madu said Alberta peace officers who are considered “Level 2” and who work in ministries outside of justice but are trained in enforcing public health orders will be asked to do so, in addition to carrying on with their regular duties.

The new public health restrictions, a full list of which can be viewed here, are being implemented as Alberta is beginning to regularly see over 1,000 new COVID-19 cases over 24-hour periods, the province’s contact tracing system is overwhelmed and increased hospitalizations are straining the health-care system’s ability to cope.

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— With files from Global News’ Phil Heidenreich

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