Alberta identified its first case of the B.1.617 variant of COVID-19 yesterday. The variant was first identified in India and Denmark and is cited as the reason for a recent surge in cases in India.
Canada suspended flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days in response to concern about the B.1.617 variant.
According to Chief Medical Officer of Health for Alberta Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the person with the Indian variant was an interprovincial traveler. She said no additional cases of the variant have been detected.
The provincial testing positivity rate sits at 10.7 per cent and variants now represent 60 per cent of active cases.
There are now 19,182 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta. 1,857 were reported on April 21. 518 people are receiving care in hospital including 116 in intensive care. Another three people are dead, bringing the death toll from COVID-19 to 2,054 people.
Across the Lakeland there are two active cases in Lac La Biche County, 28 in Lac La Biche, 12 in Smoky Lake, 21 in St. Paul, 37 in Bonnyville, 31 in Cold Lake, seven in Two Hills, and 69 in Vermilion.
Vaccines continue to arrive at pharmacies and AHS clinics across the region. As of April 23, second doses are being made available to people undergoing chemotherapy, organ transplant recipients, and stem cell transplant recipients. These people must book using the 811 phone system.
“Anyone receiving solely hormonal therapy, radiation therapy or surgical intervention for cancer, or other therapies that are not as profoundly immune compromising, will continue to receive their second dose at an extended interval no later than 4 months after the first,” said Hinshaw.
In Thursday’s update, Hinshaw also highlighted the importance of responding to text messages from AHS.
She said AHS is having a good response to the initial text messages for confirmed positive cases of COVID-19, but is having less success with their close contacts.
“If you receive a text message asking if you consent to receiving an important message from AHS, please accept it. You will then receive another message with information specific to you, exposures you have had, and instructions you need to protect those around you. If you receive this message, it is not a scam,” said Hinshaw.
When close contacts do not accept the text messages it means the contact tracers must make individual phone calls which take longer.
Hinshaw said it is important to make the contact tracing system as effective as possible to combat the rising number of cases in Alberta.