A growing number of cases of the quicker spreading, more lethal U.K. virus variant are being found in Alberta — with about half not linked to travel outside the country.
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw said on Monday 25 additional cases of the virus mutation first identified in the United Kingdom have been found in the province. This brings the total to 96.
Of these, 46 cases were found not to be linked to travel, so presumably were spread within the province.
Hinshaw said screening for new variants is done for every positive COVID-19 case in Alberta.
Scientists believe the U.K. variant spreads up to 70 per cent faster than others, and that it could be about 30 per cent more deadly. For instance, if 1,000 60-year-olds were infected with the old variant, 10 might be expected to die. But this could rise to 13 deaths with the new variant.
Fortunately, Hinshaw said there’s been no spread of this virus mutation found in schools.
The province relaxed some rules to make it easier for students to participate in sports activities.
The mental health benefits of exercise are being recognized, said Hinshaw — but she warned that masking and physical distancing rules must still be followed.
A maximum of 10 players, including a coach, are being allowed to gather at one time.
“I want to stress to parents, players, trainers and coaches that it’s vital that every public health measure be followed at all times” to reduce viral spread, said Hinshaw.
Outbreaks of COVID-19 virus are reported in 313 schools around the province, she said. This amounts of 13 per cent of all Alberta schools. The combined total is 844 school viral cases since classes resumed on Jan. 11.
Alberta announced an additional 269 COVID-19 cases Monday.
The province now sits at 6,196 active cases of the virus, with 119,130 people recovered. There are 432 people in hospital, including 76 in intensive care.
There were also five additional deaths in the province over the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 1,710 since the start of the pandemic.
Central Zone sits at 689 active cases, with 8,461 recovered. There are 33 people in hospital, including four in the ICU.
Red Deer now has 276 active cases of COVID-19.
Red Deer County sits at 27 active cases and Lacombe County has 21 active.
Sylvan Lake has 28 active, Lacombe has 34 active, Olds has two active and Drumheller has 12 active.
Mountain View County sits at eight active, Kneehill County has one active and Clearwater County has 34 active.
The County of Stettler has six active, and Camrose County sit at 128 active.
Camrose has 29 active and Wetaskiwin has 26 active cases.
On the local geographic area setting, Wetaskiwin County, including Maskwacis has 118 active cases of the virus. Ponoka County, including East Ponoka County has 12 active. Rimbey, which includes West Ponoka County and parts of Lacombe County has one active case.
So far, 120,000 doses of the vaccine against COVID-19 were administered in Alberta. Hinshaw said 29,000 Albertans have received the full two doses.