Alberta reported 57 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and one new death.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said 38 additional variant cases were identified in the last 24 hours.
There are now 1,773 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, the lowest number since Oct. 2, Hinshaw told a news conference.
She said 200 people are in hospital being treated for the disease, including 54 patients in intensive care.
Another 5,000 tests were performed in the last 24 hours, with a positivity rate of 1.4 per cent, she said.
To date more than 3.85 million doses of vaccine have been administered in the province, including more than 45,000 on Monday, Hinshaw said.
She said 70.8 per cent of eligible Albertans age 12 and up have had one dose of vaccine, and 30.4 per cent of the same group are fully immunized with two doses.
Premier Jason Kenney announced last week that the province will move to Stage 3 of its reopening plan on July 1. Almost all COVID-19 public health restrictions will be lifted.
Hinshaw said the lifting of restrictions will bring its own challenges.
“Some anxiety and uncertainty is natural during these transitions,” she said.
“As cases drop and vaccinations rise, we all must get ready to face a new kind of challenge, learning to live with COVID as restrictions ease and life starts to feel closer to the one we knew before COVID-19 arrived.”
Albertans will need to learn how to live with the virus without the rules that have been imposed on them for the past 16 months, Hinshaw said.
“This means entering a time with less mandatory barriers on what we can do while still being thoughtful about how we manage risks. We are up for this challenge and we can make this change, but we need to start practising now.”
Masks to be required on transit, in care homes
Hinshaw said that when Stage 3 begins, masks will continue to be required on public transit, in taxis and in ride-sharing vehicles, “given the closed indoor environment of these spaces and to protect those who have not been able to be fully vaccinated yet.”
Masking will also be required in continuing-care and acute-care settings, she said.
“We are in discussions with regulated health professionals about the precautions that will continue to be prudent in community health settings as well, particularly until everyone has had the opportunity to receive a second dose of vaccine.”
Monitoring delta variant case counts
Hinshaw said experience with the delta variant in England has shown that hospitalizations have not risen as dramatically as case counts, and that the majority of people who do need hospitalization are not immunized.
Alberta is watching transmission trends and severe outcomes, and monitoring the effectiveness of vaccines against the delta variant, Hinshaw said.
“If case counts don’t lead in the same way to severe outcomes, then we should not respond in the same way that we previously have to case counts alone,” she said.
“We have an extremely high level of protection across multiple age groups across the province. We will continue to work very hard to expand that protection and work with Albertans to do so.”
Regular updates coming to an end
Hinshaw said she will end her regular live updates to Albertans after next Tuesday, June 29. After that, she will shift to providing live updates when they are needed, she said.
“All of our public health efforts will keep going,” she said, with contact tracing and testing to continue daily.
Cases and vaccination numbers will no longer be reported on weekends, and reproduction values (R-values) will shift to two-week intervals.
Here is how active cases break down across the province:
- Calgary zone — 850
- Edmonton zone — 311
- Central zone — 179
- South zone — 72
- North zone — 360
- Unknown — 1
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