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First cases of Brazil COVID-19 variant detected in Alberta Sunday, next vaccine rollout phase begins Monday

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As Alberta added 388 new cases of COVID-19 Sunday, including two of the first confirmed Brazil variant cases, officials are preparing to expand the provincial vaccination program to Phase 2A starting Monday.

The two Brazil variant cases, also known as the P.1 variant, were detected in travellers.

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Dr. Deena Hinshaw said on social media Sunday that officials are screening every positive case for variants of concern.

“I know any new variant cases can create anxiety but remember we are working hard to prevent their spread,” she said.

On Sunday, Alberta also confirmed 63 U.K. variant cases, as well as one case of the South African variant. So far, the province has confirmed a total of 920 variant cases.

Alberta currently has 4,697 active cases of COVID-19, a rise of 103 active cases since Saturday. An additional six people in the province have died from the disease, including three seniors who lived at Churchill Manor in Edmonton.

The 388 positive cases reported Sunday came from 8,343 tests, equaling a provincial positivity rate of 4.6 per cent. There are currently 248 people in hospital, 38 of whom are in intensive care.

Vaccine Phase 2A set to launch Monday

Phase 2A’s Monday launch means another 437,000 Albertans will be eligible for vaccinations.

However, certain age groups can book their appointments in certain ways:

  • Those born between 1947 and 1956 (turning 65 to 74) will be able to book vaccinations at participating pharmacies.
  • First Nations, Métis and Inuit people born in 1971 or earlier (age 50 and above) can also book through the pharmacies.
  • Albertans born in 1947, as well as First Nations people born in 1962 or earlier, can book through AHS.

The AHS online and phone bookings will open up by birth year, with one year added each day. Phase 2A also includes staff and residences of licenced supportive living facilities who have not yet received their vaccines.

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Read more: Why is B.C. on its 1st age group when Alberta is opening vaccination to anyone 65+?

Albertans who book in Phase 2A will get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

“We actually have tomorrow booked full with injections,” said pharmacist Dennis Cai with Access Pharmacy in Edmonton. “We’re getting many patients calling way ahead of time just to inquire about when they can start booking.”

“We’ve got three staff here (Monday), three pharmacists, and most likely we’ll be giving injections all day.”

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Alberta closes Covishield/AstraZeneca online bookings

The province said that online bookings for the Covishield/AstraZeneca vaccine would be closed at 4 p.m. However, phone bookings can still be booked through HealthLink at 811.

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That vaccine was offered to a younger group than the provincial phasing system — to Albertans born between 1957 and 1961 (age 60 to 64) and First Nations people born between 1972 and 1976 (age 45 to 49).

Read more: Bookings to close soon for AstraZeneca vaccine in Alberta as supplies dwindle

On Sunday afternoon, Alberta Health Services said that more than 14,000 people in the province had already received their first dose of Covishield/AstraZeneca.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is not being offered to Albertans over 65 as its efficacy in that age group remains in question.

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Sunday deaths

The six deaths Sunday brings the total number of Albertans who have died to 1,946. Alberta Health said all the fatalities announced Sunday had comorbidities.

Four of the deaths were people in the Edmonton zone; a man in his 80s at the outbreak at Leduc Community Hospital, as well as three seniors at the Churchill Manor outbreak: a man in his 80s, and a woman and man both in their 90s.

Two people in the Central zone also died: a man in his 60s, as well as a woman in her 90s connected to the outbreak at Symphony Senior Living Aspen Ridge.

–with files from The Canadian Press

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