Fifty-seven confirmed cases of the new COVID variant in Alberta

Grant Boone
February 4, 2021

More than 80 per cent of those who have tested positive for COVID-19 variants in Alberta have either travelled outside Canada or have had close exposure with someone else who travelled, Hinshaw said.

"We are being extra cautious to reduce the chance of infection spreading widely into the community", Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw said on Tuesday.

"The science tells us that the variant spreads faster amongst younger people and that is a concern for teachers", said Alberta Teachers Association president Jason Schilling.

Dr. Hinshaw said without the pilot program, the province's official variant case numbers would be lower - but the variants would likely be spreading more widely in the province without being detected.

Eight cases across five households have no known contact with travellers; four of the eight are linked to one daycare facility. Hinshaw did not identify what health zone the daycare was in, saying she wants to notify all families connected to it before publicly announcing its location.

As of Tuesday, Alberta had detected 50 cases of the variant identified in the United Kingdom and seven cases of the variant identified in South Africa.

"What we know about the variant, is that we don't know about the variant", said leader Rachel Notley.

Hinshaw said Alberta is not postponing the first stage of its reopening on February 8 in response, but beefing up protocols elsewhere. According to Alberta Health Services, there are 144 active cases of the virus in the municipality.

There were 13 new deaths reported in Alberta on Tuesday.

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Thirteen more Albertans have died as a result of the virus, and now the total death rate is at 1,660.

"If cases choose to stay at home during their isolation period, their household contacts will now need to stay at home as well in quarantine until 14 days have passed from the case's isolation period, for a total of 24 days", Hinshaw said at a press briefing.

And, seeing as two of the travel-related variant cases were Calgary students whose parents had returned from an worldwide trip, Alberta is extending isolation requirements to all members of a traveller's household.

"We will no longer assess the ability to stay in a different part of the house as adequate for isolation".

Hinshaw reported that afternoon 268 new cases found among 7,900 tests conducted by labs on Monday.

The provincial positivity rate now sits at 3.5 per cent. However, earlier today it was learned 4 of these cases have a link to an outbreak at a daycare centre.

Alberta's case numbers and hospitalizations have trended downward since significant pandemic restrictions were introduced in December.

On the vaccine front, 107,400 doses have been administered and more than 17,000 Albertans have been vaccinated.

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