Omicron cases nearly double in Alberta to 119
59 new cases of the fast-spreading coronavirus variant reported Thursday
Identified cases of the Omicron variant have nearly doubled in Alberta as the province reported 59 new cases of the variant on Thursday.
There have now been 119 cases of Omicron detected in Alberta, 82 of them in the Calgary health region.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said the large number of Omicron cases is attributable to a change in testing procedures.
"Our lab has shifted to a quicker testing process for the Omicron variant which means that today we are reporting a large number of Omicron cases coming from several days all at once," Hinshaw said on Twitter.
She said the 59 new Omicron cases reported Thursday are mostly from three days of samples between Dec. 12 and 14.
"I want to assure Albertans that we are closely monitoring developments around this variant and there are additional measures in place to help slow the spread," Hinshaw said.
Our lab has shifted to a quicker testing process for the Omicron variant which means that today we are reporting a large number of Omicron cases coming from several days all at once. (4/8)—@CMOH_Alberta
Alberta health officials also reported 473 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, slightly higher than the 456 reported on Wednesday. Thursday's total was the highest recorded in one day in the month of December.
The new cases were detected through 9,595 tests, with a positivity rate around 4.98 per cent.
No new COVID-related deaths were reported Thursday. One previously reported death was found to have been reported in error. The province's adjusted COVID-19 death total is now 3,285.
Active cases of COVID-19 increased by 130 to 4,212. Here's how active cases break down regionally:
- Calgary zone: 1,876
- Edmonton zone: 1,247
- Central zone: 499
- North zone: 377
- South zone: 210
- Unknown: 3
COVID-19 hospitalizations declined by 10 from Wednesday's update. There are now 352 people being treated in hospital in Alberta for COVID-19, including 70 patients in intensive care.
Of the 282 non-ICU patients, 62.4 per cent are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, Hinshaw said. Of the 70 patients in ICU, 77.1 per cent are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.
As of the latest update, about 72.4 per cent of Albertans are considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Across the province, 26,825 doses of vaccine were administered Wednesday. Of that, 22,413 were third doses.
Starting on Friday, Albertans can pick up free rapid COVID-19 test kits from pharmacies and clinics across the province.
The AHS site list can be found here and a full list of participating pharmacies, located in Edmonton, Calgary and Red Deer, will be posted online Friday.