Edmonton

Record-setting 2,775 COVID-19 cases reported in Alberta, pushing total active cases to 17,396

Alberta recorded its highest single-day increase of new COVID-19 infections on Wednesday, in a post-holiday update that shows active cases in the province more than doubling in a week.

Confirmed cases don't include results from at-home rapid tests

Medical staff administers a COVID-19 test in an Ontario hospital in May 2020. Alberta reported its highest-ever daily case count on Wednesday. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Alberta recorded its highest single-day increase of new COVID-19 infections on Wednesday, in a post-holiday update that shows active cases in the province more than doubling in a week.

A record-setting 2,775 new cases were reported Wednesday, bringing Alberta's active total to almost 17,400. Less than one week ago, on Dec. 23, the number of active cases stood at 8,359.

Before this month, the long-standing single-day record for new cases was about 2,300 on April 30. 

The highly contagious Omicron variant is driving rising infections across Canada, with other provinces also setting records.

"The positivity rates we are seeing are higher than before, showing the transmissibility of Omicron. This is why anyone who feels ill should stay home and away from others until they are feeling better," Alberta's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said in a post on social media Wednesday.

Hinshaw had planned to update Albertans at a news conference Thursday afternoon.

But on Thursday morning, she said on Twitter that she will be taking part in a COVID-19 cabinet committee meeting "to discuss the latest developments and trends with the Omicron variant and the ongoing work to protect Albertans."

The news conference is being rescheduled for Friday, but new estimated case numbers will be posted online on Thursday afternoon as planned, Hinshaw said.

The confirmed cases announced on Wednesday do not include positive results from at-home rapid antigen tests. The province has urged Albertans to avoid getting a PCR test to protect the supply for specific groups of people, including health-care workers.

Hinshaw said it's critical that Albertans follow public health measures, stay home when sick and get vaccinated against COVID-19 with all three shots to slow the growth of Omicron.

Alberta Health data shows Wednesday's cases come from about 9,400 tests, representing a positivity rate of 30 per cent.

That rate is an unprecedented high.

Positivity rates in Alberta rarely passed 13 per cent before recent weeks. The current seven-day average is 20.55 per cent.

The government also confirmed COVID-19 cases identified between Dec. 23 to 27 after releasing preliminary numbers during a Tuesday news conference with Hinshaw and Premier Jason Kenney.

Thousands of new cases were logged, breaking down as follows:

  • 2,010 cases on Dec. 23
  • 2,484 cases on Dec. 24
  • 1,568 cases on Dec. 25
  • 686 cases on Dec. 26
  • 1,395 cases on Dec. 27

Despite the skyrocketing number of infections driven by the now-dominant Omicron variant, hospitalization numbers are creeping up but much more slowly.

Wednesday's update stated there are 349 people in hospital with COVID-19, an increase of 26 from the previous day. The hospitalizations include 57 people in intensive care, which is up by seven from the day before.

In a post on Twitter, Hinshaw said 11 new deaths were reported in the last 24 hours. Since the start of the pandemic, 3,310 people in Alberta have died from COVID-19. 

Here is how active cases break down across the province:

  • Calgary zone: 9,293
  • Edmonton zone: 6,216
  • Central zone: 687
  • North zone: 597
  • South zone: 471
  • Unknown: 132

Critics from the Opposition NDP called on the United Conservative government to implement additional public health measures to curb spiking infections.

"We have a government offering nothing in the form of solutions or measures needed to stop the spread," health critic David Shepherd said in a news release.

"We need a plan to restore full testing and contact tracing. We need to tell parents, teachers, and students what the plan is for the return of school in just a few days' time."

With files from CBC News

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