Alberta confirms 411 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, 2 additional deaths

Alberta Health confirmed an additional 411 cases of COVID-19 in the province Friday, bringing the total number of Albertans who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus to 135,196.

There were 243 people in hospital across the province, with 44 receiving care in the ICU.

As of Friday’s update, there were 4,639 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta. There were 1,654 cases reported in the Calgary zone and 1,101 active cases in the Edmonton zone.

Read more: One year later: Some of the 1st Albertans to experience COVID-19 share thoughts

There were 1,005 active cases reported in the North zone, 527 reported in the Central zone and 341 in the South zone.

There were 11 cases not attributed to a specific zone.

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Two deaths were also reported Friday: a man in his 70s from the Edmonton zone linked to the outbreak at St. Thomas Health Centre and a man in his 70s from the Calgary zone. Both cases included comorbidities, according to Alberta Health.

On Friday, Health Canada announced the approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro said the approval is more good news.

Read more: Johnson & Johnson vaccine approved in Canada. How does it compare to the others?

Shandro said there is still no schedule or any word on how many more doses will be available from J&J but assumes it could accelerate the vaccination process.

Shandro announced Alberta is speeding up its COVID-19 vaccine rollout by opening appointments to Phase 2A Albertans earlier than planned.

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Starting March 15, Albertans 65 to 74 can start booking COVID-19 vaccine appointments.

On the first day, anyone born in 1947 can book their appointment. Anyone born in 1948 can book their appointment on March 16 and so on.

Read more: COVID-19: Could Albertans choose which vaccine they get?

The appointment booking approach for Phase 2 is being adjusted after issues with the website and 811 booking system arose when Phase 1B was launched last month.

First Nations, Inuit and Metis people 50 and older can also start booking appointments on March 15.

– With files from Caley Ramsay, Global News and The Canadian Press.

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