Alberta confirms first two cases of COVID-19 variant first identified in Brazil on Sunday

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The first two cases of the COVID-19 variant identified in Brazil have been confirmed in Alberta.

According to the latest numbers released by the province on Sunday, the two cases of the P.1 variant are among 66 more COVID-19 variants reported. Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw tweeted on Sunday the P.1 variants were travel related.

“These cases are already isolating. Anyone at risk is being contacted by our dedicated variant contact tracing team and will be offered testing twice,” Hinshaw tweeted.

The total number of COVID-19 variant cases identified in the province now stands at 920. Along with the P.1 variant cases, there were 63 more cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, first found in the United Kingdom, reported on Sunday, raising the total number of that variant to 902. One more case of the B.1.351 variant, first identified in South Africa, was also reported, bringing that total to 16.

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The Edmonton Zone, which includes the city of Edmonton and surrounding municipalities, has 385 of the COVID-19 variant cases in the province.

Both P.1 variant cases were reported in the Calgary Zone.

In the previous 24 hours, 388 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the province after 8,343 tests were completed for a positivity rate of 4.6 per cent. Across Alberta, there are 4,697 active cases of COVID-19.

In the Edmonton Zone there are 1,154 active cases, an increase of seven from the previous day. Of those, 974 are in the city of Edmonton, or 93.8 per 100,000 people.

There are 248 people hospitalized with COVID-19, a decrease of six from Saturday, and of those, 38 are in intensive care units, an increase of three.

Six more deaths were reported, bringing the provincial death toll to 1,946. The deaths were a man in his 80s, a man in his 90s and a woman in her 90s all linked to the outbreak at Churchill Manor, a man in his 80s linked to the outbreak at Leduc Community Hospital, a woman in her 90s linked to the outbreak at Symphony Senior Living Aspen Ridge in Red Deer, and a man in his 60s in Central Zone not linked to an outbreak.

Through end-of-day Saturday, Alberta has administered 357,983 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, for 8,095.7 doses per 100,000 people. There was an increase of 11,848 doses from the previous day.

There are now 91,538 Albertans fully immunized with two doses.

Meanwhile, Phase 2A of the province’s vaccine rollout launches Monday. Albertans born between 1947 and 1956, no matter where they live, will be eligible, along with First Nations, Metis and Inuit people born in 1971 or earlier, no matter where they live.

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Staff and residents of licensed seniors supportive living facilities that were not included in the Phase 1 rollout will also be eligible and Alberta Health Services (AHS) will contact those directly to book.

Also launching on Monday is the ability to book through participating pharmacies, no matter the birth year.

Booking online through AHS or by calling HealthLink 811 will also be available, however, those bookings will open by birth year, one year added each following day. Therefore, on Monday, Albertans born in 1947 or First Nations, Metis and Inuit born in 1962 will be able to book through those mediums.

Those living on-reserve or on-settlement will be able to book through their local clinic.

According to Hinshaw, as of Sunday afternoon, more than 92 per cent of the AstraZeneca vaccine appointment slots had been filled. The province originally received 58,500 doses of the vaccine.

Due to the supply nearly running out, the province closed online booking for AstraZeneca appointments at 4 p.m. Those born between 1957 and 1961 can continue to book appointments by calling 811.

However, the province will not be opening eligibility for the AstraZeneca vaccine to any more birth years until more supply is received.

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