Alberta recorded 576 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and four additional deaths as a result of the disease.
The new cases came after more than 8,000 tests were completed, putting the province’s positivity rate at about 7.7 per cent, according to the chief medical officer of health.
Of the new cases, 332 — or 57.6 per cent — were variants of concern. Variant cases of COVID-19 now make up 29.8 per cent of active cases in Alberta.
All four of the deaths reported to Alberta Health over the past 24 hours included comorbidities.
A man in his 50s in the Edmonton zone, a man in his 80s in the Calgary zone and a woman in her 70s in the North zone died. A man in his 60s linked to the outbreak at Edmonton’s Grey Nuns Community Hospital also died.
Alberta also surpassed 300 people in hospital with COVID-19 Tuesday — the first time that’s happened since late February.
There were 301 people in hospital, 58 of whom were being treated in intensive care.
Tuesday also marked the start of Phase 2B of Alberta’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan.
Phase 2B includes more than 945,000 Albertans with underlying health conditions, including cancer patients, transplant recipients, people living with disabilities, dementia and other conditions that put them at a higher risk of severe outcomes of COVID-19.
Albertans born in 1963 or earlier with eligible underlying medical conditions are now able to book a vaccine appointment through participating pharmacies that have supply in Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer.
Alberta Health said in the coming week, more vaccine supply will become available and more pharmacies will begin to offer appointments.
On April 5, Alberta Health Services will start taking bookings for eligible Albertans in Phase 2B who were born in or before 1959. These appointments can be booked through 811 or through the AHS online booking portal.
As of March 29, Alberta had administered 620,009 doses of vaccine. So far, 99,378 Albertans have been fully immunized with two doses.
Earlier Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Pfizer and BioNTech will send another five million doses of their mRNA vaccine to Canada in June, bringing their total shipments in the spring to 17.8 million.
Procurement Minister Anita Anand added that the first shipments of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine are set to arrive in Canada at the end of April. She doesn’t know yet how many doses will be in that first shipment.
Alberta Health said it is still awaiting confirmation from the federal government of how many doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine Alberta would receive and when they would arrive in the province.
A spokesperson with Alberta Health said decisions on which groups will be eligible for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be made once arrive time and exact quantities are confirmed.
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health is scheduled to provide her next in-person update on COVID-19 on Thursday.
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