Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw is working to mitigate concerns about a new variant of the COVID-19 virus.
The new B.1.529 variant, called Omicron, first emerged in South Africa and coincided with a steep rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in that region in recent weeks, according to the World Health Organization. On Friday afternoon, WHO classified Omicron as a variant of concern.
Hinshaw said there have yet to be any cases of the new strain in Alberta and the province’s testing system is adequate to detect mutations of the COVID-19 virus.
“I would like to address reports of a new variant that was detected in South Africa and other countries. Early evidence shows an increased number of mutations and increased transmissibility. The federal government announced new travel restrictions in light of this variant,” Hinshaw Tweeted Friday.
“At this time, there have been no cases of this variant detected in Canada. I want to reassure Albertans that our genetic sequencing program here in Alberta can detect mutations of the virus, including this new strain.”
Alberta reported 356 new cases of COVID-19 Friday, based on 8,701 tests for a four per cent positivity rate. There are 5,017 active cases of the virus in the province, with 455 people in hospital including 90 in intensive care.
There were three new deaths due to the implications of COVID-19 reported Friday, bringing the provincial death toll to 3,235.
In the Central zone, there are 716 active cases of the virus, with 95 people in hospital infected with the virus, including eight in the ICU.
Red Deer is down to 129 active cases of the virus. The city has 9,377 total cases, with 9,167 recovered and 81 deaths due to implications of COVID-19.
According to geospatial mapping on the provincial government’s website, Clearwater County has 48 active cases, the City of Camrose has 45, Wetaskiwin has 44, Red Deer County has 43 and Mountain View County has 32.
Lacombe has 25 active cases, Olds and the County of Stettler each have 24, Lacombe County has 22, Sylvan Lake and Camrose County each have 21 and Kneehill County has 17.