Alberta reported an additional 352 COVID-19 cases Thursday.
The province now has 5,501 active cases of the virus and they completed more than 10,000 tests over the past 24 hours– leading to a test positivity rate of 3.5 per cent.
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said that there are still 397 people in hospital, including 71 admitted to intensive care.
“There are still as many people in hospital (Thursday) as there were on November 23,” Hinshaw said.
“This is a reminder that we must keep this downward trend occurring.”
Despite being below the hospitalization threshold of 450 to re-open more activities across the province, Hinshaw said they need to take a cautious approach before moving forward.
“Hospitalizations are a lagging indicator so that extra time is needed. While we already have reached below that 450-mark that’s required to move to step 2, that’s only one part of the requirements,” she said.
“The other part of the requirements is that we manage to hold our new cases at a stable or declining rate – despite the activities that are allowed by moving into step 1. We will need that three week time period to assess and monitor those trends.”
There are now 156 cases of COVID-19 variant – a jump of 20 over the past 24 hours.
Central zone has 36 cases of the variant, all of the U.K. variety.
The province also reported an additional 16 deaths due to COVID-19, bringing the provincial death toll to 1,744 since the beginning of the pandemic.
She added there are active COVID-19 alerts or outbreaks in 311 schools across the province. These schools have a combined total of 897 cases since early January. Of these, only 155 are believed to be cases of in-school transmission.
Central zone sits at 679 active cases, with 8,601 recovered cases. There are 30 people in hospital, including five in intensive care.
Red Deer is up to 326 active cases of COVID-19.
On the government’s website using the municipality setting to sort COVID-19 cases, regions are defined by metropolitan areas, cities, urban service areas, rural areas, and towns with approximately 10,000 or more people; smaller regions are incorporated into the corresponding rural area.
With that setting Red Deer County sits at 25 active cases of the virus, while Lacombe County has 10 active cases.
Lacombe has 35 active cases, Sylvan Lake sits at 19 active cases, Olds has three active and Drumheller has 16 active.
Mountain View County sits at eight active, Kneehill County has three active and Clearwater County 24 active.
Camrose County and the County of Stettler each have six active cases.
Camrose sits at 31 active and the City of Wetaskiwin has 22 active.
On the local geographic area setting, Wetaskiwin County, including Maskwacis has 100 active. Ponoka, including East Ponoka County, has nine active. Rimbey, which includes west Ponoka County and parts of Lacombe County, has one active case.
Hinshaw also noted that because of the new federal regulations, the province will suspend the Alberta border pilot testing program at the Calgary airport.
‘This means all air travellers arriving in Alberta from outside of Canada, will need to comply with the mandatory federal testing requirement and 14-day quarantine period at that time,” she said.
The border pilot will continue at the Coutts border land entry.
She said in the pilot, the province has been able to test over 49,000 travellers as soon as they arrive and the program has been able to identify a number of COVID-19 cases in which the person was not showing any symptoms.