The number of active COVID-19 cases in Red Deer hit a new peak Thursday.
The city jumped from 454 on Wednesday to a record 493 active cases. Red Deer now has 10 per cent of Alberta’s active cases and 67 per cent of the central zone’s cases.
Overall, Alberta has 4,887 active cases of the virus, with 123,338 recovered cases. There were seven additional deaths reported Thursday and to date, the province has recorded 1,805 deaths.
The province completed more than 10,000 COVID-19 tests over the past 24 hours, leading to a test positivity rate of four per cent.
There are 362 people in hospital in Alberta, with 55 of those in the ICU.
Central zone sits at 729 active cases of the virus, with 30 people in hospital, including six in intensive care.
Across the province, there were 415 additional COVID-19 cases Thursday.
“I know we are all frustrated and tired, it is essential that we all keep following the legal rules that are in place,” said Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw.
“They are protecting our communities, our health system and each other.”
Hinshaw also addressed why Alberta Health Services did not step in sooner to address the Olymel meatpacking plant outbreak in Red Deer.
There are 197 active cases linked to the outbreak at the plant with 389 cases overall. The number of cases at Olymel ramped up around Jan. 20 and the slaughterhouse was temporarily closed earlier this week.
“The numbers in the initial outbreak were very low and those were maintained at a very low basis at a time when our community transmission was at the highest level across the province,” she said.
“The cases that occurred were not necessarily cases that were acquired at the plant – they were simply cases in workers at the plant… with respect to the recent escalation of cases, when that happened there was an intensification of the response that is now involving local community organizations.”
On the government’s website using the municipality setting to sort COVID-19 cases, regions are defined by metropolitan areas, cities, urban service areas, rural areas, and towns with approximately 10,000 or more people; smaller regions are incorporated into the corresponding rural area.
With that setting Red Deer County sits 41 active cases, Lacombe County has nine active and Clearwater County has eight active.
Lacombe has 32 active, Sylvan Lake has 14 active, Olds has two active and Drumheller sits at nine active.
Camrose County and County of Stettler have five active cases each.
The City of Camrose has 11 active and the City of Wetaskiwin sits at 18 active.
On the local geographic area setting, Wetaskiwin County, including Maskwacis has 43 active. Ponoka County including east Ponoka County has 12 active. Rimbey, which includes west Ponoka County and parts of Lacombe County has no active cases.
Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro provided an update on contract tracing efforts in the province. He said there are 2,300 contract tracers or about 41 per 100,000 people in the province. He added those individuals are processing up to 1,500 COVID-19 cases per day. There are also 51 contract tracers dedicated to COVID-19 variants, with 239 variant cases discovered in the province so far.