Coronavirus Canada Updates: As Alberta logs record 2,433 COVID-19 cases, province scales back variant screening

186 new infections in Saskatchewan, Regina surpassed as city with most active cases
186 new infections in Saskatchewan, Regina surpassed as city with most active cases

Alberta’s record surge of COVID-19 infections reached new heights Saturday, as the province reported 2,433 new cases.

It’s by far the most cases logged in Alberta in a single day, a significant step up from the 2,048 and 2,007 infections reported Thursday and Friday, respectively.

The cases came from 20,457 tests, representing an 11.9 per cent positivity rate, also an all-time high.

The surge has overwhelmed Alberta’s ability to process new cases, forcing the province to scale back variant testing efforts.

An Alberta Precision Laboratories bulletin issued Friday indicates that starting Saturday, only positive cases from specific populations will be screened for more-contagious variants of concern.

Only cases that involve patients in hospitals or emergency rooms, health-care workers, recent international travellers or identified outbreaks will be tested for variants.

Swelling volumes of cases mean only these groups, considered to represent high-risk scenarios, will have their tests screened for variant strains, according to the memo.

“Positivity rates and overall test volumes of COVID-19 have rapidly increased, necessitating a change in the testing strategy to maintain laboratory capacity and turnaround times,” the bulletin read.

On Saturday, Alberta reported 1,743 new cases of variants, including 1,336 cases of the dominant B.1.1.7 strain, 392 cases of the P.1 strain and 15 cases of the B.1.351 strain. There are 13,986 active variant cases, comprising 62.1 per cent of Alberta’s total active infections.

That number could decrease in coming days, as fewer tests are completed to screen for variants. Alberta has tested all cases for variants each day since Feb. 3.

Alberta Health Services said the move to decrease variant testing was done to ensure Albertans receive test results more quickly.

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