EDMONTON -- The province’s top doctor revealed Thursday that Alberta may not have hit the peak of third wave COVID-19 infections.

In a live update, Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported 2,211 new cases of COVID-19. No new deaths were reported in the province as 654 people remain in hospital, including 146 in ICU.

About 19,900 tests were completed in the province, translating to a positivity rate of 11.1 per cent. The seven-day average for positivity remains at 11.52 per cent – the highest since the start of the pandemic.

There are 24,497 total active cases in Alberta – a new high for the province.

The seven-day average of hospitalizations is at 666 people.

Alberta now averages 2,054 reported infections of COVID-19, another pandemic high.

The chief medical officer of health for Alberta reiterated that restrictions announced Tuesday are “absolutely necessary.”

“I recognize that these measures create a significant disruption in people’s lives,” she said.

“I wish that these were not necessary,” she added. “But they are.”

It is unknown if the peak of new third wave cases in Alberta has been reached yet, Hinshaw said.

Last week, the provincial R-value was 1.12, meaning that cases continue to spread throughout communities.

“The spread in our province is extremely high,” she said. “Cases have risen to the point where we cannot simply gather one sector or group.”

“Each activity involves Albertans mingling in-person and risks exposure to the virus.”

Alberta remains first among all provinces and territories in per capita cases and is tied with Saskatchewan in terms of highest hospitalizations.

Vaccine eligibility was expanded Thursday to include Albertans born in 1991 or earlier. Hinshaw confirmed over 100,000 Albertans had booked appointments so far.

READ MORE: 100,000 millennial Albertans book COVID-19 shots on first day of eligibility 

“That is incredibly exciting and I urge all Albertans to book as soon as they can,” Hinshaw said.

“At the same time, I also am asking for your patience. Come Monday, there will be more than 3.8 million people eligible.”

More than 1.73 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the province to date.

Hinshaw reminded Albertans that the testing strategy for the province has changed. Only representative samples will be screened for variants of concern and contact tracers will no longer notify contacts that they were exposed to a variant case.

Representative samples will include tests from specific populations, such as health care staff, hospital and emergency patients, and those who have recently travelled.

“Variants are now and continue to be the dominant strain of COVID-19,” Hinshaw said. “With cases rising, our labs have had to adjust their testing strategy.”

READ MORE: Variant testing in Alberta scaled back as case rates continue to increase