Alberta reported 644 news cases of COVID-19 as active infections continue to rise in the province.
The latest tally brings active cases in the province to 7,698, up from the 7,366 reported online Saturday. The Calgary Zone continues to lead the way with 3,565 cases. The Edmonton Zone has about half of that with 1,734, while the North Zone, South Zone and Central Zone have 855, 815 and 700 respectively.
Active cases have been rising steadily over the past several weeks. Feb. 18 saw a 2021 low with 4,282 when that number slowly began to rise. On March 1, there were 4,690 active cases in Alberta. By March 16, cases were back above the 5,000 mark as infections were tallied at 5,089 and continuing to increase.
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw has not said that Alberta is starting to experience a third wave after numbers dropped significantly from December highs in the tens of thousands. However, she and other health officials have repeatedly outlined the risk of increased spread that comes with variants of concerns being reported in the province.
The province reported 235 cases of those variants on Sunday. There are 1,972 active cases of variants of concern, making up just over one-quarter of all active infections. The B.1.1.7 variant that was first found in the United Kingdom has accounted for 3,043 of the 3,068 total variant cases found in the province.
“We know by looking at European countries, for example, where B.1.1.7 has become dominant and where public health measures aren’t necessarily being followed in a regular way, that it can spread very quickly,” said Hinshaw in her update last Thursday. “It can have impacts not just from the number of cases, but also impacts on hospitals, impacts on the number of deaths.”
The province reported an R value of 1.13 last week, meaning the transmission rate of a case is larger than spreading it to one other person.
There were three additional deaths reported in Alberta Sunday where COVID-19 was a contributing factor, bringing the total number of fatalities since the pandemic began to 1,983.
There are 277 people receiving treatment in hospital for COVID-19, including 63 who are in intensive care.
The province had administered 594,723 doses of COVID-19 vaccines as of Saturday.
Hinshaw said on Twitter Sunday that she will next provide a live update on Tuesday.