The provincial government is encouraged by Alberta’s progress in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw made the statement in her daily briefing Wednesday while reporting an additional 669 COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours. She also announced that Alberta completed more than 14,000 COVID-19 tests and the test positivity rate is 4.5 per cent.
“It is very encouraging to see our positivity rate steadily declining,” Hinshaw said.
“I would say that the data we have indicates the restrictions put in place in November and December have achieved so far, their intended outcome. What is critical at this point, is we maintain enough measures to continue going down.”
Hinshaw said that while case numbers and the positivity rate are encouraging, there are still 744 people in hospital in Alberta because of the virus, including 124 in the ICU.
Alberta now has 10,565 active cases of COVID-19.
“We need to build on our collective success by going slowly towards allowing additional activities and not experiencing a rebound if we open to quickly,” she added about potentially easing more COVID-19 restrictions.
The province also reported 21 additional deaths over the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 1,484 since the start of the pandemic. One of the new deaths was in central zone: a female in her 90s linked to the outbreak at Seasons Camrose.
Central zone is below 1,000 active cases, with 949. In total, 59 people are in hospital, including 10 in the ICU in the zone.
Red Deer is down to 166 active cases of the virus, with 1,541 recovered cases, according to the government’s geospatial mapping.
Red Deer County has 40 active cases and Lacombe County sits at 21 active. Sylvan Lake has 25 active, Olds has 16 active and Lacombe is at 21 active.
Mountain View County has 19 active, Kneehill County has seven active, Drumheller has 11 active and Clearwater County sits at 81 active.
Camrose has 47 active cases, while Camrose County is down to six active cases.
Ponoka County, the County of Wetaskiwin and Wetaskiwin have 403 active cases combined.
The province said Wednesday there are now 167 schools on alert and two with COVID-19 outbreaks. Officials confirmed those schools have 252 cases combined, with 18 coming from in-school transmission.
Hinshaw also announced changes to visits at long-term care facilities. She said outdoor visits can take place with up to five people, including the resident. If residents can go off-site, they can participate in an outdoor social gathering with up to nine other people.
Physical distancing must be followed at these gatherings and masks are recommended to protect the residents. Visits must be prearranged and coordinated with the facility in advance.