Alberta reports five more COVID-19 deaths, 257 new cases since Friday

Alberta reported five more COVID-19 deaths and 257 new cases of the illness over a three-day period from Friday to Sunday.

A total of 213 people have now died from the illness

Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw provided her latest update on COVID-19 on Thursday. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

Alberta reported five more COVID-19 deaths and 257 new cases of the illness over the three-day period from Friday to Sunday.

After conducting more than 26,000 tests over the past three days, the province identified 108 new cases on Friday, 101 on Saturday and 48 on Sunday.

The average turnaround time to notify someone about a positive test result is two days and that is too long, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, said Monday at a news conference.

"We have put some measures in place and are working on more to reduce this wait time and to speed up other components of the testing process in the coming weeks," Hinshaw said.

With three weeks remaining in August, people need to stay vigilant to keep themselves and others safe, she said.

"The best advice for all of us is still to respect physical distancing, wear a mask if we can't, wash and sanitize our hands often, keep social interaction within our cohorts, isolate if we feel sick and get tested," she said.

"We are going to be living with this virus for some time, so we must see this as our new normal. Remember that when we take actions to protect ourselves, we are also protecting each other."

With the new cases reported over the weekend, there are now 1,090 active cases in Alberta. By end of day Sunday, 66 patients were being treated for the illness in Alberta hospitals, including 14 people in ICU beds.

There have been 213 deaths associated with the illness.Two of the most recent deaths were at Edmonton's Good Samaritan Southgate Care Centre, site of the deadliest outbreak in Alberta. There have now been 27 deaths and 113 cases of COVID-19 at the south-side facility since mid-June.

Over the past three days, case numbers in the Edmonton zone surpassed those seen in the Calgary zone. The regional breakdown of active cases was:

  • Edmonton zone: 388 cases
  • Calgary zone: 365 cases
  • Central zone: 157 cases
  • North zone: 113 cases
  • South zone: 61 cases
  • Unknown: three cases

Daily case numbers have varied widely in recent days. After several straight days in the double-digits, where new cases ranged between 56 and 97, the province reported 134 on Thursday, 108 on Friday and 101 on Saturday.

"There is some irony in the fact that my cautious optimism last week was followed by three days with new case counts over 100," Hinshaw said. "It is a reminder that COVID-19 continues to be with us, and we cannot turn our backs on this virus."

By Friday, provincial labs had tested more than 613,000 people, about one in seven Albertans.

Alberta Health Services has said it plans to turn to the private sector to help double testing capacity, with daily tests expected to exceed 20,000 by September, when students return to school.