Alberta doubles active COVID-19 cases in a week, sets single-day record

·3 min read

EDMONTON — Alberta more than doubled its active COVID-19 case count in a week, while recording its highest single-day increase of new infections.

A record-setting 2,775 new cases were reported Wednesday, bringing Alberta's active total to almost 17,400 from 8,359 last Thursday.

Before this month, the long-standing single-day record was about 2,300 cases on April 30. But last Thursday exceeded that by more than 150 infections, only to be surpassed again Wednesday.

The highly contagious Omicron variant is driving rising infections across Canada, with other provinces also setting records.

"The positivity rates we are seeing are higher than before, showing the transmissibility of Omicron. This is why anyone who feels ill should stay home and away from others until they are feeling better," Alberta's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said in a post on social media.

Hinshaw said it's critical that Albertans follow public health measures, stay home when sick and get vaccinated against COVID-19 with all three shots to slow the growth of Omicron.

Alberta Health data shows Wednesday's cases come from about 9,400 tests, representing a positivity rate of 30 per cent.

That rate is an unprecedented high.

Positivity rates in Alberta rarely passed 13 per cent before recent weeks. The current seven-day average is 20.55 per cent.

COVID-19 spread, exacerbated by the Omicron variant, has forced individuals and organizations to weigh risks of gatherings.

The world junior men's hockey championship in Edmonton and Red Deer, for example, was cancelled to ensure the health and safety of participants. The tournament opened Sunday, but players testing positive for COVID-19 had put defending champion United States, as well as Russia and Czechia, into mandatory quarantines by Wednesday.

The Government of Alberta also confirmed the numbers of COVID-19 cases identified between Dec. 23 to 27 on Wednesday, after originally releasing preliminary numbers.

About 3,150 infections were logged, with a high of 2,484 last Thursday and low of 686 on Sunday. There was a sharp decline in tests administered on Sunday than before Christmas Day.

There were 349 Albertans in hospital with COVID-19 and 57 of those patients were in intensive care. While that's an increase from the 318 who were reported in hospital when the government last updated that figure on Dec. 23, there were seven more people in intensive care at that time.

Critics from the Opposition NDP called on the United Conservative government to implement additional public health measures to curb spiking infections.

"We have a government offering nothing in the form of solutions or measures needed to stop the spread," health critic David Shepherd said in a news release.

"We need a plan to restore full testing and contact tracing. We need to tell parents, teachers, and students what the plan is for the return of school in just a few days' time."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 29, 2021.

— By Alanna Smith in Calgary

The Canadian Press

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