Alberta reports 127 new COVID-19 cases, six deaths while active cases continue to decline

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Alberta reported 127 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday as it looks to lift nearly all public health restrictions on July 1.

While the province remains under Stage 2 restrictions, including masking requirements and limited gatherings, it will reopen on Canada Day after hitting the 70 per cent first dose threshold among eligible vaccine recipients on Thursday.

As of Saturday’s update, more than 3.7 million shots have been given across Alberta, with 70.4 per cent of the population aged 12 and over having received at least one shot, and 27.3 per cent fully vaccinated with two.

On Friday, the province had administered 66,669 new doses of vaccine, with 7,927 being first doses.

Six more deaths raised the provincial death toll to 2,289.

The province’s active cases of COVID-19 continue to decline, with 2,170 total cases as of the latest update — down from 2,336 on Friday. With 5,055 tests completed, Saturday’s update saw a positivity rate of 2.5 per cent.

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There are 221 people hospitalized with COVID-19, a decrease of 16. Of those, 49 are in intensive care units, a decrease of nine patients.

Of the new reported cases, the province has identified 116 new variant cases. The majority of those variant cases are the B.1.1.7 variant first identified in the U.K. at 87. Twenty-three cases of the B.1.617 variant first identified in India accounted for 23, with the P.1 Brazilian variant totalling six.

Alberta will be the first province to lift all mandatory restrictions July 1, however, isolation requirements for confirmed COVID-19 cases and measures for continuing care settings may remain.

The indoor provincial mask mandate will also be lifted, but masking may still be required in some settings.

Premier Jason Kenney said Friday there will be no more restrictions for events ranging from weddings and funerals to sports and fitness activities and capacity limits on restaurants, retail and places of worship and no advisories against non-essential travel after Canada Day.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced on Friday that the vaccine rollout is being accelerated, with any Albertan who received their first vaccine in May eligible to book their second dose.

The Canadian government said it will extend restrictions that bar non-essential travel at U.S. land borders until at least July 21.

However, Canada and the provincial governments are working on a national vaccine program for international travel.

lijohnson@postmedia.com

twitter.com/reportrix

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