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Everything you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Thursday, April 29

Alberta reported Thursday its highest level of active cases since the pandemic began, with 21,385 active cases, as well as new public health restrictions in some communities.

Kenney announces new public-health restrictions in municipalities with high case rates

A nurse gets ready to perform a test at a temporary COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on May 12, 2020. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

The latest COVID-19 numbers:

  • Alberta reported Thursday its highest total of active cases since the pandemic began, with 21,385 active cases.
  • The province continues to have the highest active case rate in Canada, with more than 480 active cases per 100,000 people. 
  • Alberta reported 2,048 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday.
  • Starting Friday, the provincial government will implement new public-health measures in hot spots across the province where there are more than 350 active cases per 100,000 people and at least 250 total active cases, Premier Jason Kenney announced Thursday.
  • The list of targeted communities includes Edmonton, Calgary, Fort McMurray, Red Deer, Grande Prairie, Airdrie, Lethbridge, and Strathcona County.
  • All junior and senior high schools in the targeted communities will move to at-home learning starting Monday, though some had already shifted to online learning.
  • Indoor fitness and indoor sports will be shut down in these communities, effective Friday.
  • The mandatory restrictions will remain in effect for a minimum of two weeks, Kenney said. 
  • People who are ticketing for failing to comply with health measures now risk being unable to renew their driver's licences or complete other transactions at registry services if they don't pay their fines, the premier also announced Friday.
  • Meantime, more Albertans in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s are ending up in ICU with COVID-19 than ever before, according to a breakdown of data published by Alberta Health. People admitted to ICU in recent weeks have been significantly younger than those admitted over the winter, when a devastating second wave of infection swamped hospitals with critically ill patients. 
  • There are now 632 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 151 people in intensive care. That is the most patients in ICU that Alberta has seen at any point during the pandemic.
  • Three more people have died, for a total of 2,075 deaths.
  • The provincial positivity rate was 10.1 per cent on Thursday
  • The latest R-value reported for the province was 1.04.
  • 165,267 Albertans have recovered from COVID-19.
  • There are more than 700 active cases of COVID-19 tied to outbreaks at oil camps in northern Alberta. 
  • Currently, 750 schools, about 31 per cent of all schools in Alberta, are on alert or have outbreaks.
  • Due to an increase in the number of Albertans in the Calgary zone requesting a COVID-19 test, it may take three to five days from the time someone makes a request to when testing occurs, AHS said last week.

(Note the latest daily count of new cases in the above chart will usually vary slightly from the net new cases Alberta Health announces each day. For more on why, click here.)

The latest on vaccines:

  • The province said Thursday that Albertans eligible in the rest of the Phase 2C and 2D vaccine rollout will be able to book appointments starting April 30.
  • Albertans in the final groups of Phase 2 include front-line disability workers and workers in group homes and other supportive living sites, workers at locations with potential for large outbreaks, police officers and provincial sheriffs, all Albertans aged 50 and older, and all First Nations, Métis and Inuit (FNMI) persons aged 35 and older.
  • Vaccination clinics were set to begin Thursday at two of Canada's largest beef-packing plants in southern Alberta. Both the Cargill plant, which is near High River south of Calgary, and JBS Canada in Brooks were hit hard by COVID-19 outbreaks last year.
  • Alberta plans to vaccinate about 15,000 workers at all of the province's 136 meat-packing plants, using a combination of on-site and community locations. 
  • Alberta is altering the COVID-19 vaccine eligibility rules for residents of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and Banff — and will redirect a large shipment of COVID-19 vaccine to both areas.
  • Calgary firefighters are now able to get COVID-19 vaccine shots after the city designated them as medical first responders.
  • The province is expanding the number of people eligible due to underlying health conditions. As of April 27, those born between 2006 and 2009 with qualifying conditions can book appointments for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
  • Walk-in appointments for the AstraZeneca-Oxford shot were no longer be available to most Albertans as of April 26, Alberta Health Services said, as active COVID-19 cases surged above 20,000 in the province. 
  • Only Grande Prairie and Fort McMurray will continue to have walk-in opportunities on a first-come, first-served basis for the next few days.
  • Eligible Albertans wanting an AstraZeneca shot can book through the AHS online booking tool and through Health Link 811. Many pharmacies are also taking bookings, although some haven't received the vaccine.
  • Phase 2C of the rollout of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines began on April 12, expanding to include 240,000 nurses, doctors, dentists and any health-care workers in patient care facilities or providing direct patient care in the community. Correctional facility staff and inmates are also eligible, as well as staff and residents at shelters.
  • Other groups in 2C — such as support staff at workplaces that are at risk for large outbreaks and front-line policing, as well as residents at group homes and caregivers of Albertans at risk of severe outcomes — are expected to begin in the following weeks. 
  • 1,528,569 vaccine doses have been administered in Alberta, including Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca-Oxford.
  • 292,765 Albertans have been fully immunized (2 doses).

The latest on restrictions and reopenings:

  • On April 6, the Alberta government reimposed Step 1 restrictions, including closing restaurants and bars to in-person dining, lowering retail store capacity to 15 per cent and banning low-intensity group fitness activities.
  • The province is easing COVID-19 restrictions at long-term care centres starting on May 10, allowing each resident to designate up to four friends or family members as visitors.  Kenney said hospitalizations in those facilities have decreased by 93 per cent since active cases in care homes peaked in December. 
  • The government of B.C. is restricting all non-essential travel into or out of all health authority regions.
  • The legal orders are meant to limit the spread of COVID-19, and will be in effect in B.C. until May 25 — the end of the May long weekend.
  • Those who contravene the legal order in B.C. — including Albertans — may be subject to a $575 fine, B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said last week.

The latest on more dangerous variants:

  • Alberta announced its first COVID-19 case linked to the B1617 variant on April 22, the variant fuelling the case surge in India.
  • There were more than 1,300 new cases involving variants of concern reported on Wednesday.
  • About 63 per cent of active cases have been identified as variants of concern, but not all cases can be screened for variants, due to technical limitations with some samples. Alberta Health Services has said about 80 to 85 per cent of all positive samples are successfully screened for the variants of concern. 
  • There are 13,460 active variant cases, while 15,708 people have recovered and 82 people had died from variant infections.
  • Alberta had 28,287 cases linked to variant B117, first detected in the United Kingdom, 77 cases linked to variant B1351, first detected in South Africa, and 885 cases linked to the variant P1, which was first identified in Brazil.

'We are still heading in the wrong direction,' says Alberta's top doctor

CBC News Edmonton

15 days ago
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Dr. Deena Hinshaw says there is currently no one source or sector that is driving the spread of COVID-19 in Alberta. 1:30

See which regions are being hit hardest:

Here is the detailed regional breakdown of active cases as reported by the province on Wednesday:

  • Calgary zone: 8,962 active cases, up from 8,882 reported on Tuesday (65,383 recovered).
  • Edmonton zone: 5,916, up from 5,755 (60,798 recovered).
  • North zone: 2,994, up from 2,894 (16,673 recovered).
  • South zone: 1,064, up from 1,030 (9,098 recovered).
  • Central zone: 2,395, down from 2,320 (13,297 recovered).
  • Unknown: 54, down from 57 (18 recovered).

You can see active cases by local health area on the following interactive map. Scroll, zoom and click on the map for more information:

Find out which neighbourhoods or communities have the most cases, how hard people of different ages have been hit, the ages of people in hospital, how Alberta compares to other provinces and more in: Here are the latest COVID-19 statistics for Alberta — and what they mean.

Here are the latest Alberta COVID-19 stories:

How Alberta compares to other provinces and territories:

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