EDMONTON -- Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported 1,857 COVID-19 cases on Thursday — Alberta's third highest one-day count since the pandemic began.

Alberta also has its first case of the B.1.617 variant first identified in India and seen in Denmark. The strain is "a key driver in the rapidly spreading cases that we are seeing in India," the chief medical officer of health said.

"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."

The new variant came into Alberta from an interprovincial driver, Hinshaw said.

Sixty per cent of Alberta's 19,182 active cases are linked to now four variants.

The province conducted more than 17,500 tests on Wednesday and reported a positivity rate of 10.7 per cent.

"These are concerning numbers that underline the fact that we have work to do together," Hinshaw said.

There are 518 Albertans in hospital with 116 of them in intensive care units.

"It's important to remember that hospitalizations are a lagging indicator and these individuals in hospital were likely first infected around two to three weeks ago," Hinshaw said.

"Given how high our leading indicators — growth rate, new cases and positivity rate — have been, we can expect to see this number grow in the coming days."

Hinshaw reported six new deaths linked to COVID-19. A total of 2,054 Albertans have died since March 2020.

Alberta Health Services had administered 1.2 million vaccine doses as of the end of Wednesday.


An earlier version of this story quoted Dr. Hinshaw as having said the B.1.617 strain was first identified in Denmark. An Alberta Health spokesperson confirmed she misspoke and meant to say it was first identified in India and also seen in Denmark.