Alberta reports more than 700 new COVID-19 cases for a second straight day

EDMONTON — Alberta reported more than 700 new cases of COVID-19 for a second straight day as the province’s active and variant case counts continue their upward trends. 

The province reported 717 new cases Friday, a day after adding 764 new cases on Thursday. 

Alberta’s active case count surpassed 7,000 for the time since late January, and is now at 7,077. 

A total of 1,976 Albertans have now died due to COVID-19 after three new deaths were reported Friday. 

Friday’s data on other key metrics continued a worsening trend for the province in recent weeks. 

Variant cases continued their rapid growth with an additional 325 reported on Friday, all of them of the B.1.1.7 variant first found in the U.K. 

There are now 1,654 active variant cases, about 23 per cent of all actives.

The number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 is now at 284, 31 higher than at the end of February. There are now 59 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units. There were as few as 33 on just over two weeks ago

Test positivity continued an upward trend, reported at 5.39 per cent on Friday, the fifth straight day the number has exceeded five per cent.

‘STRONG RESURGENCE’

Canada is on track to see a “strong resurgence” of COVID-19 cases across the country if the more transmissible variants continue to spread and become more commonplace, and if public health measures remain at current levels, according to new federal modelling.

New long-range projections being presented by Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) officials show that if Canadians increase, or even maintain the current number of people they come into contact with each day, COVID-19 cases are set to spike to levels not yet experienced during this pandemic.

“Current community-based public health measures will be insufficient to control rapid growth,” Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam told reporters Friday. “It’s clear that we need to hold on together a bit stronger and longer until vaccines have us better protected.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, among others, have noted similar modelling hasn’t proven accurate in the past. 

Edmonton intensive care unit physician Dr. Darren Markland says public health measures helped drive down cases.

“The reason it’s wrong is because interventions happened along the curve.”

The province has been reluctant to introduce new restrictions, but Kenney said Thursday he would be prepared to act with “targeted public health measures” if needed.

Dr. Markland warns that it may already be too late.

With variants now making up about a quarter of all active cases, he says Alberta is reaching a tipping point that could prompt renewed restrictions. 

“When we cross over to 50 per cent, summer’s gone,” he said. 

“You know, we’re not going to get it back.”

With files from Bill Fortier and Rachel Aiello

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