EDMONTON -- Alberta Health reported 696 COVID-19 cases on Friday, the largest one-day increase since mid-January.

The province also announced its largest daily count of variant cases with 130 infections. All but one are the B.1.1.7 strain first detected in the U.K.

Hospitalizations and ICU admissions increased from 264 and 43 on Wednesday to 276 and 48 on Thursday, respectively.

Thursday's positivity rate was 5.8 per cent after nearly 12,000 tests.

Alberta currently has 5,429 COVID-19 cases. No deaths were reported Friday.

Nearly 440,000 vaccine doses had been administered as of Thursday.

Alberta has reported 140,823 cases and 1,957 deaths since last March.


Monday is the earliest Alberta could decide to enter Step 3 of its reopening plan. The province is under the 300-hospitalization mark needed to advance, but Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw has said she's watching for total case counts, variants, positivity rate and R-value.

On Friday, the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association asked the provincial government to choose wisely next week, citing the rising spread of the variants of concern.

"Indoor attendance at casinos, bingo halls, movie theatres, auditoriums and places of worship are all at high risk for super-spreader events," a letter read. "The Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association recommends that protective measures for these venues not be weakened until all high-risk individuals in the province have been immunized."

Dr. Hinshaw will give her next update on Monday.