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Everything you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Sunday, Feb. 7

Restrictions are set to ease on Monday, including limited school and minor sport training. Meanwhile, a Red Deer slaughterhouse and the Cargill meat-processing plant near High River grapple with outbreaks.

Restrictions set to ease on Monday while Red Deer slaughterhouse, Cargill plant grapple with outbreaks

The Cargill meat-processing plant near High River, Alta., is facing a new outbreak. The plant was the site of the largest COVID-19 outbreak in Canada last year — with 950 staff and hundreds of their close contacts testing positive. (Justin Pennell/CBC)

The latest:

  • The province reported 351 additional cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, compared with 348 new cases reported Saturday. The testing positivity rate is 4.3 per cent.
  • Since reaching a peak on Dec. 7, 2020 of 1,767 new cases per day, the seven-day average of daily new cases has been declining. As of Feb. 4, the seven-day average was 414.57, roughly the level it was at in late October when the numbers had just started rising sharply.
  • Another 4 people have died, bringing the total number of deaths in the province to 1,709.
  • There were 6,242 active cases  in the province Sunday, inching down from 6,266 on Saturday.
  • There were 434 people in hospital, including 81 in intensive care.
  • The provincewide R-value, which refers to the average number of people infected by each person with COVID-19, was 0.83. 
  • The province confirmed Saturday that it will move ahead with the first round of eased COVID-19 restrictions on Monday, including limited school and minor sport training.
  • The union representing workers at a Red Deer slaughterhouse is calling for its immediate shutdown after the death of a man in his 30s was linked to an ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.
  • The Cargill meat-processing plant near High River, Alta., is facing a new outbreak. The plant was the site of the largest COVID-19 outbreak in Canada last year — with 950 staff and hundreds of their close contacts testing positive.
  • The new outbreak at Cargill currently has 11 cases, seven of which are active.
  • The province has now confirmed 78 cases of people infected with variants of the coronavirus that were first identified in the United Kingdom and South Africa.
  • Alberta has changed self-isolation rules for those infected with variants of COVID-19, and in some cases people may end up in quarantine for up to 24 days, Hinshaw said. 
  • The variants seem to have an infection rate that's 40 to 70 per cent higher than the strain that's been in Alberta so far. England and Ireland have seen the variant spread rapidly throughout their populations and the U.K.'s daily mortality rate is the highest it's been since the start of the pandemic.
  • As of Sunday, 118,384 first doses of the vaccine had been administered.
  • Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said Thursday she has heard that some seniors in Alberta are getting phone calls telling them they can book vaccination appointments if they're willing to pay fees. "This is not a legitimate claim, this is a scam," she said.
(Evelyne Asselin/CBC)

See the detailed regional breakdown:

Here is the detailed regional breakdown of active cases as of Sunday.

  • Calgary zone: 2,508, down from 2,561 reported on Saturday (45,687 recovered).
  • Edmonton zone: 1,889, down from 1,940 (49,362 recovered).
  • North zone: 814, up from 794 (9,613 recovered).
  • South zone: 318, up from 304 (5,625 recovered). 
  • Central zone: 694, up from 654 (8,423 recovered).
  • Unknown: 19, up from 13 (106 recovered).

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:


Limited minor team sport training to be allowed when COVID-19 restrictions ease Monday

The province confirmed Saturday that it will move ahead with the first round of eased COVID-19 restrictions on Monday, including limited school and minor sport training.

The plan for a gradual reopening announced in late January is contingent on an ongoing decrease in hospitalizations.

The first stage, beginning Monday, required fewer than 600 patients in hospital with COVID-19. As of Friday, that number stood at 475, including 89 people in intensive care. 

Children and youth will be allowed to participate in lessons, practices and conditioning activities for both indoor and outdoor sports. Performance activities, such as music class, are also permitted. Games are still not allowed.

A news release Saturday laid out a number of rules for youth and minor sports and activities:

  • All participants must be 18 years old or younger, excluding coaches and trainers;
  • A maximum of 10 people, including coaches, trainers and participants, are allowed;
  • All participants must maintain social distancing at all times;
  • Participants must be masked at all times, except when engaged in physical activity;
  • Coaches and trainers must always be masked;
  • Access to change rooms should be limited to "accelerated" arrival and departure, for emergencies and washroom use only.

For more, see: Limited minor team sport training to be allowed when COVID-19 restrictions ease Monday


New COVID-19 outbreak declared at Cargill meat plant in Alberta — site of Canada's largest outbreak

The site of the largest COVID-19 outbreak in Canada is now facing a new spate of cases.

Alberta Health confirmed there are 11 cases linked to the Cargill meat-processing plant near High River, Alta., as of Saturday. Of those, seven cases are active. 

The outbreak began on Dec. 16, 2020, Alberta Health said, and was reported publicly this week when it reached the threshold of five cases.

An outbreak last spring saw at least 950 staff at the facility — nearly half its workforce — test positive.

"This is how the prior Cargill outbreak started. With about 10 cases, and within days it was hundreds of cases, and people were dying," said United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401 president Thomas Hesse.

Daniel Sullivan, a spokesperson for Cargill, confirmed that six employees who tested positive are in isolation and are receiving medical care and support.

"At Cargill, the safety of our employees is our top priority. As essential workers, our team is on the front lines of feeding people across our communities," he said in an emailed statement on Saturday.

Sullivan said the cases come as the town of High River "continues to experience a rise" in COVID-19 cases. According to the province, there are currently five cases of COVID-19 in the town of around 17,000.

For more, see: New COVID-19 outbreak declared at Cargill meat plant in Alberta — site of Canada's largest outbreak


Union calls for shutdown of Red Deer meat plant after death of man in 30s

The union representing workers at a Red Deer slaughterhouse is calling for its immediate shutdown after the death of a man in his 30s was linked to an ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401 said on Friday night that it had sent a letter to Olymel calling for a temporary plant closure, along with full compensation for union members.

As of Saturday, Alberta Health said 168 cases had been linked to the outbreak, 90 of which are active.

The CFCW is calling for the temporary closure of this Olymel pork processing plant in Red Deer. (Olymel)

"We have a death, and we have a very large outbreak. So the company or the government needs to act and make sure there's some form of lockdown here, until eyes can get on this issue and we can have experts look at it," said Thomas Hesse, president of the union.

"[We need] meetings with the union and workers, to understand what's happening in terms of health and safety. It's completely unacceptable."

The outbreak at the Olymel facility was initially declared on Nov. 17, and the man in his 30s died on Jan. 28.  Alberta Health said the man had no known comorbidities.

For  more, see: Union calls for shutdown of Red Deer meat plant after death of man in 30s


Alberta oilsands have seen more than 1,000 cases of COVID-19

Since the pandemic began, there have been more than 1,000 cases of COVID-19 linked to oilsands outbreaks in Alberta, including 120 cases diagnosed in other provinces.

A dump truck works near the Syncrude oilsands extraction facility near Fort McMurray, Alta. Since the pandemic began, there have been more than 1,000 cases of COVID-19 found in Alberta's oilsands operations. (Jason Franson/Canadian Press)

Eleven of the outbreaks are still active, with 38 current cases.

Despite the numbers, industry officials aren't raising alarms.

"The ratios [of infection] look to be quite similar to the general population," said Perry Berkenpas, executive director of the Oil Sands Community Alliance.


More research needed on how vaccines affect variants

More research is needed to investigate the effectiveness of the vaccines on the virus variants, Hinshaw said.

The province has now confirmed a total of 68 cases of people infected with variants of the coronavirus that were first identified in the United Kingdom and South Africa.

Variants could change Canada’s COVID-19 situation ‘rapidly’: experts

The National

2 months ago
2:05
Even as overall COVID-19 numbers continue to trend downward across Canada, health officials are increasingly concerned about the spread of two variants: one first detected in the U.K. and another in South Africa, which experts say could ‘rapidly’ change the situation in Canada. 2:05

"We are actively reviewing the literature and experience around the globe to assess if additional measures are needed in school and other settings in the weeks ahead," Hinshaw said Thursday.

"It's important to remember that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are only a few months old, just like the variants. There is much we do not yet know, though researchers around the world are investigating," she said.

"However, even against the variants, these vaccines still appear to be extremely effective at preventing severe cases, hospitalizations and deaths."


Vaccine scam targets seniors

Hinshaw said she has heard that some seniors in Alberta are getting phone calls telling them they can book vaccination appointments if they're willing to pay fees.

"This is not a legitimate claim, this is a scam," she said. "Due to limited vaccine supply coming into the province, we are not yet able to offer the vaccine to all Albertans over the age of 75.

"When we do, the vaccine will be free of charge. Neither AHS nor any other community provider will ever be asking for payment for the vaccine. If you receive these calls, please hang up immediately and report to the non-emergency line of your local law enforcement."


  • For the latest on what's happening in the rest of Canada and around the world, see here.

With files from The Canadian Press.

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