A new variant of the COVID-19 virus has been identified in Alberta according to the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw during her regular COVID update on Thursday, April 22.
The first case of the B.1.617 variant, first identified in Denmark, was confirmed in the province; this particular variant has been responsible for the rapid spread of cases recently seen in India.
“This variant (resulted from) a returning interprovincial traveller to Alberta, and no additional cases of this variant have been detected to date,” Dr. Hinshaw said during the update. “As with all new variants, research is underway to understand what may be different about the B.1.617 variant, how it spreads, and if it creates more severe illness.”
Across the province, variants of concern have steadily risen.
The Mail reported in its April 21 edition variants of concern accounted for more than 54 per cent of all active COVID-19 cases; as of Monday, April 26, variants of concern now account for 64 per cent of all active cases of COVID-19 in the province.
In the Central Health Zone, which includes the Town of Drumheller, a total of 2,796 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed to be a variant of concern-1,458 of these are currently active. Further geographic breakdown of variant cases is not available.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced on Monday, April 26 restrictions for long-term and continuing care facilities would be relaxed beginning on Monday, May 10. The easing of restrictions will increase family or designated support persons from two to four people. Facilities will also be permitted to hold indoor social visits with up to four visitors, and outdoor social visits up to 10 people, which is double the current provincial limit.
While restrictions on long-term and continuing care will ease, all other provincial measures remain in place at this time.
As of Monday, April 26 there are 20 active and 406 recovered cases for the Town of Drumheller; this includes two active and 179 recovered cases at the Drumheller Institution.
In the surrounding areas, there are seven active cases in Starland County, 43 active cases in Kneehill County, and 19 active cases in Wheatland County.