Alberta reported 127 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and four new deaths.
The 2,804 active cases of the disease in the province as of Tuesday marks the lowest total since Oct. 15, Dr. André Corriveau, Alberta’s deputy chief medical officer of health, told a news conference.
Corriveau is filling in for Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, who is taking this week off to spend time with her family.
He said 4,476 tests were completed in the last 24 hours with a positivity rate of 2.9 per cent.
Screening has identified 85 more cases of variants of concern.
Corriveau said the government is carefully watching the delta variant, which has been linked to outbreaks in Calgary.
“It has shown itself to be a lot more transmissible than even the other variants that we’ve experienced to date,” he said.
He cited “good news” data from the United Kingdom showing that people who have had two doses of vaccine are well protected against the variant.
“As our numbers decrease overall, the more transmissible variant will normally or naturally become predominant just by default, because it spreads more easily within households or in certain types of settings among non-immunized people,” Corriveau said.
“We are still confident that our strategy is aimed in the right way to get as many Albertans immunized as possible as soon as possible.”
Immunization key in avoiding 4th wave
Corriveau said the possibility of Alberta seeing a fourth wave of COVID-19 in the fall depends on the success of the immunization program.
“Really, the key is how quickly we will be able to get the second dose completed on as many people as possible over the coming month,” he said.
“There’s a huge difference in terms of whether we could avoid completely a fourth wave, or to what extent we might experience a fourth wave in the early fall. It will really depend on how many people by then have achieved their second dose.”
As of Monday, 69.4 per cent of eligible Albertans age 12 and up had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 22 per cent were fully vaccinated with two doses.
The Open for Summer Lottery, launched this week in a bid to nudge first-dose immunization numbers, gives vaccinated Albertans a chance to win one of three $1-million prizes.
First-dose appointments had dropped off dramatically over the past two weeks.
The province’s reopening strategy has set a milestone of 70 per cent before the third and final stage, which would lift almost all current public health restrictions, can begin.
Acceleration of 2nd-dose schedule
Meanwhile, Corriveau said the province is working to speed up the vaccination timeline for Albertans who had their first doses in May.
Under the existing schedule, those individuals are eligible to book second doses starting June 28.
Corriveau said Alberta is now awaiting an “increased allocation” of Moderna vaccine.
“We’re doing the math right now to be able to speed up the access to a second dose as much as we possibly can, and we hope to be able to make an announcement later this week about when that will occur.”
Here is a breakdown of COVID-19 cases across Alberta:
- Calgary zone: 1,175 active cases and 91,924 recovered
- South zone: 105 active cases and 12,217 recovered
- Edmonton zone: 660 active cases and 75,772 recovered
- North zone: 532 active cases and 25,562 recovered
- Central zone: 332 active cases and 20,139 recovered
- No active cases and 13 recovered cases in zones to be confirmed