'Significant' outbreak of COVID-19 P.1 variant in Alberta, Hinshaw warns

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Alberta reports an estimated 1,100 new cases of COVID-19 Saturday.  (The Canadian Press/NIAID-RML via AP - image credit)
Alberta reports an estimated 1,100 new cases of COVID-19 Saturday. (The Canadian Press/NIAID-RML via AP - image credit)

Alberta reported an estimated 550 additional cases of variants of concern on Saturday, after Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, warned of a "significant" outbreak in the province.

"We are currently investigating a significant #COVID19AB outbreak in Alberta involving P.1 variants of concern (the variant that originated in Brazil), linked to a returning traveller," Hinshaw said on Twitter.

Hinshaw posted a "preliminary" update Saturday afternoon to Twitter, but did not specify where in the province the outbreak is occurring.

"Health officials are working hard to limit future spread and reaching out directly to those at risk of exposure," Hinshaw said. "We are all protecting each other, so let's all please keep making safe choices, following the health measures in place and preventing the spread of COVID-19."

The province is only reporting preliminary data over the Easter long weekend, but will have full data available Monday.

Nine per cent positivity

Alberta saw an estimated 1,100 new infections reported for the second day in a row on Saturday.

Provincial labs completed about 12,100 laboratory tests for the virus on Friday, with a positivity rate of nine per cent.

As of Saturday, 35 per cent of active cases are now variants of concern.

Hospitalizations "remain stable," Hinshaw said.

The last full update on Thursday saw 292 patients in hospital being treated for the disease, including 59 in intensive care beds.

It's not known how many, if any, new deaths from COVID-19 were reported in the previous 24 hours as they were not included in the update.

As of Thursday, the province had seen 1,994 deaths from COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.

About 10,000 vaccine doses were administered Friday, bringing the provincial total to an estimated 685,000.