Active COVID-19 cases are still rising in Alberta and so are the variant cases.
Having conducted 15,000 tests in the last 24 hours, the province reported an additional 1,429 cases Thursday with a positivity rate of 9.4 per cent.
Alberta now has 12,187 active cases of the virus.
The daily case count Thursday was the highest Alberta has seen since Dec. 17.
Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported an additional 717 additional variants of concern with variant cases representing about 45 per cent of the province’s active cases.
Hinshaw said Thursday that anyone who tests positive should assume they are infected with the B117 (UK) variant.
“We have now reached the point where variants of concern are the dominant strain of new cases in our province,” she said.
She added that the province will allow any close contacts of positive cases to be tested twice, regardless of the COVID-19 strain they may have been exposed to. They will be offered a second test 10 days after their last exposure to the positive case.
“By testing all close contacts twice, we have a better chance at quickly identifying new cases and stopping their spread,” she said.
There are now 340 people in hospital province-wide, including 83 in intensive care. There were also three new deaths reported in the past 24 hours and there have been 2,005 deaths in Alberta since the beginning of the pandemic.
Hinshaw also had a message for those who are choosing to defy COVID-19 measures or calling on the measures to be rescinded.
“They haven’t perhaps been personally impacted by a serious outcome of COVID-19 and in some ways that’s a measure of our collective success,” she said.
“We have managed to bend the curve multiple times. We have managed to keep it from overwhelming our capacity. I think the perspectives that are being shared is a reflection of how frustrated people are feeling of having to go into these measures yet again.
“I would again call on people to look at the evidence, look at what’s happened in other countries when COVID-19 and variants, in particular, have gotten out of control and to remember that it is now that we have to act.
“If we wait to act until our ICUs are overflowing, it will be far too late.”
The Central zone has 533 active variant cases and 940 active cases overall.
Red Deer sits at 212 active cases of COVID-19.
When looking at the province’s geospatial mapping for COVID-19 cases on the municipality setting, 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 has 46 active cases of the virus, Lacombe County has 45 active and Clearwater County sits at nine active.
Lacombe has 43 active and Sylvan Lake has 32 active cases, while Olds sits at 29 active. Mountain View County sits at 41 active, Kneehill County has 19 active and Drumheller has 18 active.
Camrose County sits at 38 active cases and the County of Stettler has seven.
Camrose is at 37 active cases and Wetaskiwin has 65 active.
On the local geographic area setting, Wetaskiwin County, including Maskwacis has 137 active. Ponoka, including East Ponoka County, has 124 active cases and Rimbey, which includes West Ponoka County and parts of Lacombe County has nine active.