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Alberta confirms 356 new cases of COVID-19 Friday, 269 people in hospital

Click to play video: 'Rising COVID-19 R value causes concern in B.C, Alberta, Saskatchewan' Rising COVID-19 R value causes concern in B.C, Alberta, Saskatchewan
While COVID-19 cases are declining in Canada, the reproduction rate (the R value) of the novel coronavirus is rising in the western provinces. Heather Yourex-West explains why – Feb 23, 2021

Alberta confirmed an additional 356 cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the total number of Albertans who have had the novel coronavirus to 132,788.

The province completed 9,212 tests on Thursday, putting the positivity rate at 3.92 per cent.

As of Friday afternoon, there were 269 people in hospital with 55 of those in the ICU.

The hospitalization number is the main one to watch as it gets closer to March 1, the date Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said would be the earliest date to move the province into Step 2 of reopening.

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Hinshaw clarifies answer regarding Step 2 reopening date' COVID-19: Hinshaw clarifies answer regarding Step 2 reopening date
COVID-19: Hinshaw clarifies answer regarding Step 2 reopening date – Feb 23, 2021

To move forward into the next phase, there would need to be fewer than 450 people in hospital across the province.

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That phase would see potential easing in retail, banquet and community halls, conference centres, hotels and further easing of indoor fitness and children’s sport and performance.

While hospitalizations are an important metric, Hinshaw also said trends in daily case numbers and R value would be considered.

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Premier Jason Kenney has also said it isn’t guaranteed the province would move to the next phase at the next benchmark.

On Friday, a group of healthcare professionals in Alberta urged the province to not loosen restrictions next week and instead to toughen restrictions for bars, restaurants and pubs.

Read more: Alberta doctors urge province to hold off on easing COVID-19 restrictions next week

Alberta Health confirmed an additional three deaths had been reported over the last 24 hours.

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All three deaths occurred in the Central zone and two were linked to the outbreak at Olymel. A woman in her 60s and a man in his 50s have died.

A man in his 70s has also died. According to Alberta Health, all three cases included comorbidities.

Alberta’s COVID-19 death toll now stands at 1,877.

There were 4,505 active cases across the province Friday with the majority in the Calgary and North zones.

The Calgary zone had 1,523 active cases and the North zone reported 1,016.

Elsewhere across the province, there were 908 active cases in the Edmonton zone, 722 in the Central zone and 327 active cases were reported in the North zone.

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Read more: Canada approves AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine

There were nine cases not attributed to a specific zone.

As of Friday’s update, Alberta had administered 207,300 doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

Over the last 24 hours, 16 new cases of COVID-19 variants had been confirmed. There have now been 371 cases in total.

To date, 126,406 Albertans have recovered from COVID-19.

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