Alberta Health Services' central zone jumped from 162 active COVID-19 cases to 178 on Friday. Five additional deaths were reported provincewide, bringing the toll to 323. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

622 new COVID-19 cases set another daily high Friday

Province confirmed 622 additional cases Friday

The Alberta government reported a record daily high of 622 additional COVID-19 cases Friday.

According to the government’s website, there are now 5,172 active cases of the virus in the province, with 140 cases in hospital and 25 in the ICU.

Overall, Alberta has had 27,664 confirmed cases and 22,169 recovered cases. There were also five additional deaths Friday, bringing the toll to 323.

The central zone jumped from 162 active cases to 178 active.

Red Deer added eight cases and now sits at 46 active cases of the virus.

In Red Deer County, there are eight active cases, while Lacombe County has five active cases. Lacombe has two active cases and both Olds and Sylvan Lake have one active case.

The City of Wetaskiwin is up to 12 active cases.

Collectively, the County of Wetaskiwin and Ponoka County have 47 active cases. The City of Camrose has eight active cases and Camrose County has four.

Kneehill County has nine active cases and Clearwater County sits at six active cases.

The Edmonton zone remains the hardest-hit area in the province, with 2,312 active cases, and the Calgary zone has 2,034 active cases.

In an effort to speed up the turnaround time for tests, as the number of cases climbs, the government announced last week it would end asymptomatic testing, and so far, it is having the desired effect.

Friday, the government’s website showed 12,938 COVID-19 tests had been completed in the past 24 hours.

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said Thursday that in the past, the province would see anywhere from 4,000 to 5,000 asymptomatic tests per day.

When it made a change to the testing criteria on Oct. 20, the number of tests dipped. Over the past 10 days, it has also seen the turnaround time for test results improve.

“As the number of (asymptomatic) tests has reduced, we have seen our overall volume reduce. We are seeing the number of people who have symptoms – it was going up substantially, it did come down slightly, but now it’s going up again,” Hinshaw said.

“Really, this illustrates the reason we changed our eligibility criteria. So we could improve our turnaround times, and over the past 1o days, we have seen an improvement in how fast people have been able to get their test results.

“So, that change is absolutely having the desired impact and we are making sure testing is easily available for anyone who needs it.”

Coronavirus