Alberta has seen a downward trend in COVID-19 case numbers that has much of the province breathing a temporary sigh of relief, but that same trend isn’t being seen in the South zone.
According to the Centre of Health Informatics at the University of Calgary, new cases dropped 19 per cent week-over-week from Jan. 30 to Feb. 13 in Alberta.
The Calgary zone saw the biggest dip at about 26 per cent, with the Edmonton and North zones not far behind. But a 15 per cent increase in South zone numbers is the outlier.
A comparison of data provided by Alberta Health Services on both Feb. 1 and Feb. 15 of 2021 illustrates how the South zone is remaining stagnant as the rest of the province sees reductions.
On Feb. 1, there were 7,387 active cases of COVID-19 across Alberta, with 330 of those in the South zone. Two weeks later, provincial cases had dipped by more than 2,000 to 5,222, but active cases in the South zone were once again sitting at 330.
Alberta is just one week into Step 1 of its Path Forward plan, with some calling for further easing of restrictions. But the province’s chief medical officer of health says her team continues to monitor the impacts of reopening, by keeping track of a number of statistics.
“It’s too soon to say what effect those changes are having in the province,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Tuesday. “However, it is positive news that our hospitalizations have continued to decline since our peak at the end of December.
“The R-rate in Alberta is currently 0.85, which indicates that overall, our trend in cases in the past few weeks has continued downward.”
0.85 is the provincial R-value from Feb. 8-14, but Hinshaw said the statistic is lowest in Calgary and Edmonton — at 0.82 and 0.78 respectively — leaving Alberta’s R-value without the two major urban centres at 0.94.
The R-value, or reproduction number, describes whether cases are increasing, decreasing or staying the same.
Lethbridge is the biggest driver for COVID-19 case numbers in the South zone. Since Feb. 1, the city has added 213 new cases of COVID-19, sitting at 211 active cases as of Tuesday afternoon.
In what could be seen as a silver lining for now, the South zone has yet to see any cases of either the B.1.1.7 variant of COVID-19, which was first discovered in the U.K., or the N501Y.V2 variant, which was first discovered in South Africa.
.A combined total of 211 cases involving those variants had been identified across Alberta as of Tuesday afternoon.