Alberta now has 20,721 active cases of COVID-19, second highest total ever

·2 min read
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, will update the province about the COVID-19 pandemic at a news conference on Tuesday.  (Government of Alberta - image credit)
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, will update the province about the COVID-19 pandemic at a news conference on Tuesday. (Government of Alberta - image credit)

Alberta reported 20,721 active cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the second highest total since the pandemic began more than 13 months ago.

Testing confirmed 1,539 new cases of the illness, including 812 cases linked the variants of concern.

Those variants now make up about 63 per cent of active cases across the province.

Alberta hospitals are treating COVID-19 635 patients, including 143 in ICU beds.

There is currently "an unprecedented risk of transmission" across the province, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, said Tuesday at a news conference.

'This is a provincewide problem'

"There is no one source or sector that is driving this spread that we're seeing," Hinshaw said. "It would be simpler if there were just one cause. Instead, the virus is spreading through all of us, and the many in-person get-togethers, meet-ups and other interactions that we have with other people every day.

"That is why public health measures are in place for a wide range of sectors and why we all must to continue to limit in-person interactions as much as possible.

"This is a provincewide problem in the context of a national and global one. We all need to take this virus seriously to bend the curve, including getting a vaccine as soon as we are eligible."

The province reported another seven deaths linked to COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 2,067.

Laboratories completed 13,700 tests over the past 24 hours, with a positivity rate of 11.4 per cent.

'We are still heading in the wrong direction'

The reproduction value for province was 1.04, including 1.1 in the Edmonton zone, 0.98 in the Calgary zone and 1.05 for the rest of province.

"It's good to see that growth rates have declined, especially the decline from 1.06 to 0.98 for Calgary," Hinshaw said. "But our numbers are still very high and it's important to underline that cases are still growing, especially in Edmonton.

"Simply put, we are still heading in the wrong direction."

The B117 variant, first identified in the United Kingdom, makes up the majority of COVID-19 cases in province.

Even with the surging case numbers, Hinshaw and the government have resisted calls to tighten health restrictions around the province.

Both have said that vaccinations are the key to slow the spread of the disease.

The latest counts show 1,419,188 vaccine doses have been administered in Alberta, with 274,289 Albertans now fully immunized with two doses.

Case rates are soaring among Albertans in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s, most of whom have not yet been vaccinated.

More people in those age groups are ending up in hospital, according to a breakdown of data published by Alberta Health.