Active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta reach highest level since Jan. 25
Premier Jason Kenney urges people to stay home over Easter long weekend
Alberta reported 871 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, the highest single-day total in 11 weeks, but Premier Jason Kenney says his government is not considering tougher restrictions.
At an unrelated news conference in Lethbridge, Kenney said he will discuss the situation Thursday, ahead of the
Easter long weekend, with Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health.
Kenney said Alberta won't aim to drive COVID-19 infections to zero with curfews, stay-at-home orders or widespread business closures.
"The broader cost to peoples' lives, to their livelihoods, to our social and economic health, would be massive if we were to pursue true lockdown policies," he said.
"We think a lot of the spread that is happening now is because people have become tired of all of this. They've either kind of forgotten about the guidelines or they just wished them away."
With Easter and spring holidays coming up, Kenney asked people stay at home.
"Please don't socialize outside of your family group or your close contact cohort. The vast majority of transmission happens at home."
On March 25, Hinshaw told a news conference that 40 per cent of new cases of COVID-19 in Alberta were coming from spread within households.
Wednesday's new case total was the highest since Jan. 13, when the province reported 965 new cases. The graph (above) tracking daily caseloads since then is U-shaped, as numbers declined in mid-January and throughout February, before rising again in recent weeks.
Active cases across the province hit 8,350 on Wednesday, an increase of 375 from the day before and the highest number seen since Jan. 25.
Hospitalizations remained at 301, though the number of patients in ICU beds rose by three, to 61.
Like much of the world, Alberta has seen a surge in cases linked to what health officials call variants of concern, which spread more quickly than the original strain of the coronavirus.
On Wednesday, screening identified 406 new cases linked to those variants, an increase of 74 from the previous day.
Variant cases now account for 31.9 per cent of all active cases.
Alberta has now identified a total of 4,055 variant cases, of which 2,660 are active.
"We are at another turning point in this pandemic," Hinshaw wrote in a post on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon. "Our numbers are rising, but by making good choices in the days ahead, we can reverse this trend in the weeks to come. Please continue to follow the health measures that are in place and help protect those around you."
Another three deaths were reported on Wednesday, bringing the total to 1,990 since the pandemic began in March 2020.
Laboratories conducted 13,739 tests over the past 24 hours. The positivity rate was about 6.5 per cent.
As of Wednesday's update, the breakdown of active cases across the province was:
- Calgary zone: 3,923
- Edmonton zone: 1,844
- North zone: 970
- South zone: 854
- Central zone: 733
- Unknown: 26
Alberta's immunization program continues to ramp up as the province has now administered 634,997 doses. There are 101,298 Albertans who are fully immunized with two doses.
With files from The Canadian Press