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Alberta’s COVID cabinet committee to meet again next week as province adds 333 cases, 2 involving Omicron

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: What will holiday gatherings look like in Alberta this year?'
COVID-19: What will holiday gatherings look like in Alberta this year?
WATCH: The holiday season is almost here, but provincial officials have yet to provide an update on what types of gatherings will be allowed in Alberta. As Lauren Pullen reports, the province’s COVID-19 cabinet committee is set to meet again on Tuesday. – Dec 9, 2021

Alberta Health announced Thursday that the province has identified 333 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours and that two of those cases involve the Omicron variant.

The province has now identified 19 cases of the Omicron variant since it was first discovered, with 11 of those being in the Calgary zone.

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw tweeted Thursday that there has been a possible case of Omicron in a person who attended an elementary school in the Edmonton zone while infectious.

She said that while the Omicron case is not confirmed, the school has been notified and will, in turn, let potentially exposed groups know.

Additional testing is being recommended and rapid tests are being made available.

The total number of active COVID-19 cases on Thursday afternoon was 4,094.

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The Calgary zone continues to have more active cases than any other region in the province (1,582), followed by the Edmonton zone (1,194), the Central zone (505), the North zone (471) and the South zone (237). There are five active coronavirus cases not linked to a particular zone.

The provincial government’s website said Thursday that the province’s positivity rate is at 3.57 per cent.

The total number of fatalities in Alberta that have been linked to COVID-19 actually declined by one on Thursday and now sits at 3,271.

“Upon review, one death reported yesterday in a 20-year-old has been removed as it was not due to COVID,” a spokesperson for the government department said in an email.

READ MORE: 388 new COVID-19 cases identified in Alberta, AHS warns about vaccine misinformation

The total number of Albertans in hospital with COVID-19 dropped to 368 on Thursday, down from 373 on Wednesday. Of those hospitalizations, 70 are receiving intensive care, up from 68 on Wednesday.

Alberta’s COVID-19 cabinet committee to discuss holiday season

While speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Premier Jason Kenney said he was expecting his government’s COVID-19 cabinet committee to meet on Thursday as well as next Tuesday and that the fast-approaching holiday season would be among the topics discussed.

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However, Kenney’s director of strategic planning tweeted Thursday that the meeting occurred the day before. She also confirmed that a second meeting will occur on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Kenney said the committee will consider “some possible relatively minor changes to the public health measures and guidelines” with the arrival of the new Omicron variant within Alberta’s borders ahead of the holidays.

“We are encouraged to see a continued decline in the presence of COVID in Alberta — in hospitalizations,” Kenney said. “Things have come down very steeply from the peak of the fourth wave…things appear to be going in a good direction.

“We’re all concerned about the unknowns around the Omicron variant. More and more information is coming out about that. So far, thankfully, it appears that Omicron — while being highly contagious — does not generally result in (as) severe outcomes (as the Delta variant).

“Those are all things that we’ll be taking on and considering.”

Kenney said as his government considers potential precautionary health measures as people plan to gather for the holidays, he wants to be mindful of the sacrifices Albertans have made during the pandemic, particularly the fourth wave.

“(We also) have to be mindful of the tolerance level of the public to comply,” he said.

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READ MORE: Christmas COVID-19 rule changes? Hinshaw says ‘decisions have not yet been made’

Hinshaw said Tuesday that while decisions have yet to be made regarding any potential changes to guidelines as people plan for holiday gatherings, she is “well aware that people really want to have this information to make plans.”

Watch below: Some recent videos about the COVID-19 situation in Alberta.

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