Alberta identified no new Omicron variant cases on Tuesday but reported five more COVID-19 deaths, including one in Red Deer.
There have been 11 cases so far, including seven people who were fully vaccinated. Two were partially vaccinated and two unvaccinated. Symptoms have all been mild but early indications are that the variant spreads more easily, said chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw, who said more cases are likely to be identified.
Hinshaw was asked what advice on Christmas gatherings she would give Albertans.
No additional health restrictions have been imposed but health officials continue to monitor the situation, Hinshaw said.
“It’s really clear that gathering together in someone’s home in that informal environment is one of the types of activities that has the highest risk of transmission,” she said.
Hinshaw also noted that while hospitalizations are going down the numbers of people being treated are well above what would be expected in a typical flu season.
Given the tremendous strain the health system has been under for many months, health officials want to make sure that the impact of seasonal gatherings, higher winter transmission risks and waning immunity do not overtax the system.
“We need to contemplate that as we weigh out the risks and benefits of changing the rules for gatherings,” said Hinshaw, who urged people to keep themselves and their families as safe as possible.
Indoor private social gatherings are limited to two households up to a maximum of 10 vaccine-eligible, vaccinated people. There are no restrictions on children under 12. Social gatherings are not permitted at all for unvaccinated people
Alberta identified 240COVID-19 cases on Tuesday.There are now 4,105 active cases of the virus in the province, to go along with the 337,420 recovered cases and 3,268 deaths.
The City of Red Deer now has 81 active cases of the virus, according to geospatial mapping on the provincial government’s website. Red Deer has recorded 9,453 recovered cases and 84 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.
Red Deer County has 42 active cases, Mountain View County has 38, the City of Lacombe has 24, Clearwater County has 19, Lacombe County has 19, Olds has 16, Stettler County has 41 and Sylvan Lake has six.
Wetaskiwin County, including Maskwacis, has 60 active cases, while Ponoka, including East Ponoka County, has eight and Rimbey, including West Ponoka County and part of Lacombe County, has four.
Drumheller has 20 active cases, the City of Camrose has 16, and Camrose County and Kneehill County have 12 each.
Provincially, 373 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, including 76 who have been admitted into an intensive care unit. There are 66 hospitalizations in the Central zone, including six in the ICU.