Alberta records 717 new COVID-19 cases Friday, including 325 variants

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Alberta recorded 325 new variant cases in the last 24 hours. New federal modelling shows variants are a big concern and the data suggests if we don't reduce our contacts, a third wave will be worse than anything we've seen so far. Fletcher Kent reports – Mar 26, 2021

Alberta recorded 717 new cases of COVID-19 Friday, 325 of which were variant cases of concern — a new daily record for variant cases in the province.

Variants made up 23.4 per cent of active cases in Alberta as of Friday. So far, the province has identified 2,626 total variant cases.

Friday’s new cases came after about 13,300 tests were completed, putting the province’s positivity rate at 5.4 per cent.

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While Alberta’s chief medical officer of health did not have a media availability on Friday, she took to Twitter to reiterate her warning about taking COVID-19 seriously over of spring break.

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“I urge everyone to be extra careful and limit in-person interactions as much as possible. Indoor visits are still not allowed. Variant cases are still rising and can spread easily when we let our guard down,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said.

“Whether at a playground, going for a walk or elsewhere, keeping a two-metre distance from people outside your household, wearing a mask and following public health restrictions remain our best protection against infection until vaccine can be administered to all Albertans who want it.”

Read more: COVID-19: What you can and can’t do for March break in Alberta

The NDP health critic echoed Hinshaw’s remarks.

“We must be cautious as we head into the spring break,” David Shepherd said in a statement. “I encourage all Albertans to follow the public health orders, wear your mask, keep physical distancing and protect each other. That is how we are going to get through this.”

Read more: Will Alberta have COVID-19 restrictions added back? Here’s what officials have to say

Three deaths were reported to Alberta Health in the past 24 hours, all of which included comorbidities.

A woman in her 50s in the North zone and a man in his 70s in the Calgary zone died. A man in his 80s linked to the outbreak at Churchill Manor in Edmonton also died.

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Alberta’s death toll from COVID-19 has reached 1,979.

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Earlier Friday, new federal modelling data was released which shows severity indicators and daily cases of COVID-19 are back on the rise as variants of the virus continue to spread in parts of the country, with incidents highest among young adults.

Those increases are coming at a bad time, said Canada’s chief public health officer, who expressed concern with religious holidays nearing and people wanting to gather with families.

Dr. Theresa Tam said daily cases have increased more than 30 per cent over the past two weeks, with an average of 29 deaths reported daily.

Tam said that indicates we’re in a “very tight race” between vaccines and variants of concern, which make up an increasingly high proportion of new cases in several provinces.

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Read more: COVID-19 cases rising among young Canadians as deadlier variants begin to dominate

Earlier Friday, Premier Jason Kenney said he is concerned about the rise in daily cases, transmission and hospitalization.

He noted this was the reason the province made the difficult decision earlier this week not to move into Step 3 of its Path Forward plan for relaunch.

Kenney also noted Alberta is in a race between vaccines and variants.

“We need more vaccines yesterday,” he said. I don’t want the variants to win and nor do we want to inflict massive damage on people through widespread restrictions.

“That’s why the solution here is vaccines. The federal government has got to do its job to get us those doses.”

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A spokesperson with Alberta Health said there is currently vaccine supply available in the province right now and encouraged everyone in Phase 2A to book their appointment to be vaccinated as soon as possible if they haven’t already.

As of March 25, Alberta had administered 558,763 doses of COVID-19 vaccine and 94,947 Albertans have been fully vaccinated with two doses.

There were 284 people in hospital with COVID-19 Friday, 59 of whom were being treated in intensive care.

There were 7,077 active cases in Alberta. Of those, 3,246 were in the Calgary zone, 1,552 were in the Edmonton zone, 799 were in the South zone, 798 were in the North zone, 654 were in the Central zone and 28 were not tied to any particular zone.

So far, Alberta has recorded 145,028 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 135,972 people have recovered.

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With files from The Canadian Press.

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