Alberta report new COVID-19 deaths Friday and 396 new cases of the illness.
The number of active cases across the province is now 6,407 — a drop of more than 100 cases from the number reported on Thursday.
Currently, 475 people in Alberta are being treated in hospital for COVID-19, including 89 people in intensive care.
As for the new coronavirus variants, 10 new cases have been detected in the province. There are now 71 cases of the B117 variant first discovered in the United Kingdom and seven cases of the B1351 variant first found in South Africa.
Of the 78 COVID-19 variant cases discovered in the province so far, Alberta Health says 55 are travel-related and 23 have no known link to travel.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said on Thursday that more research is needed to better understand the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines on the new variants.
“We are actively reviewing the literature and experience around the globe to assess if additional measures are needed in school and other settings in the weeks ahead,” Hinshaw said Thursday.
As of Friday, 90,798 people have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine in Alberta. Of that group, 23,268 have been fully immunized with both doses.
COVID-19 case numbers have dropped in Alberta since new restrictions were imposed in early December. Since reaching a peak on Dec. 7, the seven-day average of daily new cases has declined to the same level it was in late October when numbers had just begun to sharply rise.
With declining active case numbers, some restrictions are expected to be lifted in Alberta on Monday including allowing restaurants to reopen in-person dining and gyms to reopen for one-on-one training.
In the last 24 hours, 9,989 lab tests for COVID-19 were completed.
On Thursday, Hinshaw said the province is looking at options to expand the use of rapid testing in certain settings. She said the rapid tests don’t serve as a replacement to typical PCR tests, particularly for those not showing symptoms, and that a negative result isn’t a ‘free pass’ to not follow other health precautions. But Hinshaw said the rapid tests could be used to complement the existing testing structure.
“We are looking at the potential for using those tests again in different settings where there may be risk of spread, and we’re currently assessing the feasibility of different options,” Hinshaw said.
The regional breakdown of active cases on Friday is:
- Calgary zone: 2,598
- Edmonton zone: 2,041
- North zone: 809
- Central zone: 642
- South zone: 303
- Unknown: 14