EDMONTON -- The COVID-19 pandemic continues into its second year and third wave across Canada and Alberta as the race continues between variant cases and life-saving vaccines.

This page is updated daily with new information on Alberta, Canada and international cases of COVID-19 is made available. 

Follow the links below or scroll down to see how the COVID-19 situation is changing in Alberta.

Case growth | Vaccines | Variants | Cities and regions | Hospitalizations and deaths | Testing | Age data | Comparisons

CASE GROWTH 

The number of new cases represents the number of patients who are newly infected with the coronavirus.

The number of active cases represents the number of people infectious with COVID-19. The value can can go up or down depending on the number of new cases and new recoveries on a given day. 

A recovery is someone who contracted COVID-19 but didn't die due to the virus. It is not synonymous with a return to full health as many "long hauler" patients report severe symptoms long after their infections have cleared.

Alberta Health defines a recovery as follows:

  • A return to health after 14 days of isolation for those with COVID-19 but who experienced only mild symptoms.
  • If hospitalized due to COVID-19, anyone who does not require additional hospitalization or treatment in the 10 days after they left the hospital.
  • If tested, such as a health care worker, two negative tests at least 24 hours apart.

The reproduction value, or R-Value, measures the expected number of cases directly caused by one case. It informs if cases are increasing or decreasing and relies on a number of models that estimate past and future factors.  

The value can be calculated using one of several different models which estimate a number of past and future factors around the virus and population.

A value of one means an infected person will infect one other person, on average. A value above one means the spread is growing. A value below one means the spread is slowing.

The province has provided the statistic on a weekly basis since Dec. 8.

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VACCINES

COVID-19 vaccinations promise a way out of the pandemic, in time.

Vaccines have been distributed in Alberta since late 2020 with the number of shots given out increasing through the early part of 2021.

Four vaccines, developed by Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, have been authorized for use in Canada to date.

The federal government is responsible for securing the vaccine supply while the individual provinces are tasked with distributing those supplies to their populations.

Most vaccines require a second shot, and possibly a further booster shot months or years later to ensure continued immunity.

Alberta began rolling out its vaccination plan in late 2020. By January 2021, Albertans over the age of 75 were eligibile to book a shot. Vaccine eligiblity has grown from mid-March onwards.

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VARIANTS

Variants occur when a virus develops a set of mutations that change its genetic code enough that it reacts differently than the original strain, but also not enough that it becomes its own virus.

A series of variants that developed in late 2020 drew particular concern due to being more transmissible, and in some cases more deadly, than the initial strain.

There are also questions about the effectiveness of vaccines against variants as well as their potential to reinfect patients who have already had the coronavirus.

These variants are identified by the location of their discovery or through letters and numbers. In an effort to avoid stigmatizing entire cities and countries where these variants first emerged, an effort has been made to rename them.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases had been screened for variants since Feb. 1, 2021. Alberta Health notes the need for a second screening delays the reporting of variant cases by up to two days, though delays in other provinces are often much longer.

On April 11, Alberta Health data showed that for the first time, variants made up a majority of the province's active COVID-19 cases.

On May 1, the province announced it had stopped testing all samples and was screening only a representative samples from specific populations in order to maintain capacity. 

It said variants had become and will continue to be the dominant strain in Alberta and that every new case should be assumed to be a variant.

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CITIES AND REGIONS

Since early April, the province has provided a geographic breakdown of cases for its five health zones, community-level subzones and individual cities.

Alberta Health Services divides the province into five administrative health zones: Calgary, Central, Edmonton, North and South.

A map of those zones can be seen here, and it's important to note that the Edmonton and Calgary zones cover areas significantly bigger than the cities they are named after.

All regions of the province have seen at least one sizable outbreak at some point in the pandemic.

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HOSPITALIZATIONS AND DEATHS

Tracking hospitalizations is an important indicator of how severely the pandemic is affecting Albertans and the amount of stress it's placing on the province's health care system. 

Until November, the number of hospitalizations and ICU admissions had both remained well below maximum capacities, which Alberta Health has said was around 270 ICU beds.

The province has said the system's capacity to handle COVID-19 patients can be increased to 425, but at the cost of fewer beds, staff and other resources for other patients and procedures, including the cancellation of non-esential surgeries and medical procedures.

Like all Alberta COVID-19 data, hospitalization figures are often retroactively updated by the province for accuracy as individual hospitals report data at varying times and speeds.

See below to compare hospitalization rates by province.

Deaths are reported daily but a given day's count doesn't necessarily mean all of those deaths happened the day before. 

Instead, deaths are reported by the date they occurred and can be attributed several days, or even weeks, prior to being publicly announced.

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TESTING

Alberta has been among the top provinces in Canada measured by per capita COVID-19 testing volume since the start of the pandemic. 

Test positivity percentage provides insight into what proportion of daily tests are returned with positive results.

It can generally be calculated by dividing the number of positive results by number of tests, but Alberta Health cautions that confirmed cases canappear the reporting system two to three days later. The precise figure takes that delay into account and is provided by the province.

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AGE DATA

The above heat map displays active cases by age range, with darker shading representing more active infections.

Since the onset of the pandemic, COVID-19 has affected the elderly more than other age groups as seen by comparably higher hospitalization and death rates. Vaccine distribution focused on the province's elderly population has helped slow that trend by spring of 2021.

By the start of May 2021, all ages groups below 60 had hit pandemic highs in active cases. 

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COMPARISONS

The above interactive graphic shows total and population adjusted numbers for cases, active cases, and deaths across Canada's provinces and territories.​

Conclusions drawn from comparing provinces are somewhat limited by widely differing testing volumes and practices among provinces, but the raw data does allow from some contrast.

Rates adjusted for population provide a snapshot of the COVID-19 situation on any given day, but experts say the growth of the virus, which is unrelated to population size, is also an important indicator of future trends.

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