Alberta Health reported 555 new COVID-19 cases and two more deaths from the disease on Sunday.
The province said 282 people were in hospital, with 47 of those individuals in intensive care.
The province now has 5,971 active cases, 134,000 recoveries and 1,963 deaths.
As of Sunday, the Calgary zone has 2,465 active cases, the Edmonton zone has 1,374, the North zone has 778, the South zone has 762 and the Central zone has 575. There are 17 cases in unknown zones.
The 555 new cases came from 11,405 tests, resulting in a provincial positivity rate of 4.8 per cent, according to Alberta Health.
The two additional deaths were both in the Edmonton zone and included comorbidities: a man in his 90s linked to the outbreak at Rosedale Estates and a woman in her 60s linked to the outbreak at Churchill Manor.
Alberta doctors have expressed concerns about the possibility of the province further easing restrictions on Monday.
“We’ve been in a third wave for a week. Anybody who has not recognized that who continues to pretend it’s not happening is gaslighting you. This is happening, it’s obvious in the numbers and it’s not going to slow down until we get more policy,” Dr. Joe Vipond said.
“It’s irresponsible and dangerous to talk about reopening when the actual conversation we should be having is whether we should be going into full lockdown.”
Dr. Noel Gibney said with rising COVID-19 cases in Edmonton, Calgary and Lethbridge, now is not the time to move forward with Step 3 of the reopening strategy.
“Phase 3 would see the opening of a lot of areas that certainly could turn into superspreader events,” said Gibney, co-chair of the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association’s pandemic response committee.
Gibney said the new variant strain is rapidly increasing — doubling about every 11 days. There were 184 new cases of the B.1.1.7 (U.K.) variant reported Sunday, compared to 99 the previous day. There were no new B.1.351 (South African) or P.1 (Brazilian) variant cases confirmed Sunday. Alberta has a total of 1,581 variant cases.
“Modeling studies suggest that it will replace the original strain as the dominant one in Alberta probably around the beginning of the second week of April,” Gibney said.
As of March 20, 459,856 vaccine doses had been administered and 93,236 Albertans had been fully immunized.
Vipond said while many people have already received the vaccine, there are still millions of Albertans who have not and are still susceptible to the virus.
According to the province’s reopening strategy, hospitalizations must less than 300 to move into Step 3.
— With files from Global News’ Chris Chacon
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