Alberta has now identified 78 variant cases of COVID-19 in the province, an increase of 10 from Thursday.
As of Friday, there were 71 cases of the B.1.1.7. variant, which was first discovered in the U.K., and seven of the N501Y.V2 variant, which was first discovered in South Africa.
Fifty-five of the variant cases are travel-related and 23 have not been currently linked to travel, according to Alberta Health.
Also Friday, the province recorded 396 new cases of COVID-19 and nine additional deaths from the disease.
The increase of variant cases comes as the province prepares for certain sectors of the economy to reopen on Monday: school-related children’s sports, indoor dining at restaurants and one-on-one personal training.
The Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association has been calling for the province to release information around the prevalence of the variants in positive samples.
On Friday afternoon, Alberta Health spokesperson Tom McMillan said the department is exploring the feasibility of reporting on prevalence among samples tested.
Dr. Kelly Burak, an epidemiologist and the associate dean of continuing medical education and professional development at the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary, said that number should be disclosed to the public.
“It’s very important for us to know what that percentage of the variant is in the population, in the samples we are actually testing because it can change very, very quickly. We saw that in other countries, where they went from a few per cent to, a couple weeks later, it being half of all cases,” Burak said.
“It’s important for everybody to know what type of variants are circulating in our communities because it should influence how we behave and some of the existing public health measures might actually need to be tightened.”
Alberta Health said Friday there were no additional variant cases linked to Calgary schools. The number of cases connected to a daycare in St. Albert that has a COVID-19 outbreak involving a variant remained at four.
Friday’s 396 new cases come after 9,989 tests were processed, putting the province’s positivity rate at about four per cent.
As of Friday afternoon, there were 475 people in hospital with COVID-19, 89 of whom were being treated in intensive care.
There were 6,407 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta on Friday.
Of the nine deaths reported Friday, four were in the Edmonton zone. There were two deaths linked to the outbreak at the Benevolence Care Centre: a man in his 60s and a woman in her 100s, both of whom had comorbidities. A man in his 80s with comorbidities who was linked to the outbreak at Youville Home died, as well as a man with comorbidities who was in his 60s.
There were two deaths in the Calgary zone: a man in his 50s and a woman in her 70s, both with comorbidities.
Two deaths occurred in the Central zone: a man in his 60s with comorbidities and a woman in her 90s with comorbidities linked to the outbreak at Vermilion Health Centre.
A woman in her 40s linked to the outbreak at Westlock Continuing Care Centre in the North zone died. Her case included comorbidities, according to Alberta Health.