Nearly one-quarter of all active COVID-19 cases in Alberta are variants of concern.
The province reported 668 new cases on Saturday, bringing the total of active infections to 7,366. Of those active cases, 1,803, or 24.5 per cent, have been determined to be variants of concern. There were 207 new variants identified on Saturday, a drop from the record high of 325 reported on Friday.
The percentage of cases made up by variants has steadily increased in the past week. Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinsahw reported Monday that they made up about 16 per cent of all active cases. A few days later she warned that in other parts of the world, where variants have been more widespread, hospitalizations and other serious outcomes have climbed, including in younger age groups.
“The variant case has been reported in other jurisdictions, where it has become the dominant strain, to have a 40 to 60 per cent increased risk of hospitalization, increased risk of death,” said Hinshaw during an update Wednesday. “I absolutely would worry that, over time, as this continues to spread that we would see potentially increased numbers of younger people in hospital.”
Provincial health officials, including Health Minister Tyler Shandro, have stated their concern over the spread of variants since the first case of B.1.1.7 was reported in Alberta on Jan. 26. The variants are known to spread more easily than the original strain of COVID-19.
The province has screened a total of 13,668 cases and have found a total of 2,833 caes of variants. A total of 1,008 of those cases have recovered while 22 cases have been fatal.
The B.1.1.7 variant first identified in the United Kingdom continues to see the most spread in Alberta with 2,808 cases found in the province. Alberta has also reported 20 cases of the B.1.351 variant from South Africa and five cases of the P.1 variant from Brazil.
283 people in hospital, one additional death Saturday
The Edmonton Zone has 1,624 of the province’s total active cases of COVID-19, while the Calgary Zone continues to see the highest number of infections with 3,407 active cases. There are 830 active cases in the North Zone, 805 in the South Zone and 670 in the Central Zone. There are 30 cases with no known location.
There are currently 283 people receiving treatment in hospital, down one from Friday, including 65 whom are in intensive care, a decrease from the 59 reported on Friday.
There have been 1,980 deaths in Alberta attributed to COVID-19 since the pandemic began, an increase of one from Friday’s numbers.
The province had administered 577,223 doses of COVID-19 vaccines as of Friday.