Alberta’s chief medical officer of health called the return to in-classroom learning in the province a qualified success, given the steady downward trend of COVID-19 cases in schools.
Upon studying the data since in-person classes resumed on Jan. 11, “we know that schools are not a primary driver of transmissions,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw in her Tuesday COVID-19 update.
She noted that before schools shut down for the Christmas holiday, there were an average of 131 new viral cases reported daily in classrooms.
This fell to 113 new cases a day in the first week after in-person classes resumed on Jan. 11.
Hinshaw was pleased to see that COVID-19 cases have continued to decline ever since — to the most recent average of 58 new cases a day. “It’s still concerning,” she added, but shows a solid downward trend.
Hinshaw later admitted that a few cases of the new quicker-spreading variants of COVID-19 were found in six classes in five Alberta schools.
Impacted students, their classmates and teachers were offered double testing and, to date, there have been no in-class transmission of the new variants found, she added.
Hinshaw urged students, teachers and school officials to keep following pandemic protocols to keep bending the curve of new cases.
On Tuesday, Alberta announced an additional 195 COVID-19 cases and 12 deaths.
The province now sits at 5,831 active cases of the virus, with 119,678 people recovered. There are 427 people in hospital, including 78 in intensive care.
The 12 additional deaths in the province over the past 24 hours, bring the death toll to 1,722 since the start of the pandemic. Two of the deaths occurred in the central zone on Feb. 5. The women were in their 20s and 70s. The government said comorbidities were not known Tuesday.
Hinshaw expressed her sympathies to their families.
Central zone sits at 656 active cases, with 8,525 recovered. There are 31 people in hospital, including five in the ICU.
Red Deer now has 281 active cases of COVID-19.
Red Deer County sits at 21 active cases and Lacombe County has 14 active.
Sylvan Lake has 26 active, Lacombe has 35 active, Olds has two active and Drumheller has 12 active.
Mountain View County sits at eight active, Kneehill County has one active and Clearwater County has 32 active.
The County of Stettler has six active, and Camrose County sits at five active.
Camrose has 28 active and Wetaskiwin has 24 active cases.
On the local geographic area setting, Wetaskiwin County, including Maskwacis has 110 active cases of the virus. Ponoka County, including East Ponoka County has nine active. Rimbey, which includes West Ponoka County and parts of Lacombe County has one active case.
So far, 124,000 doses of the vaccine against COVID-19 were administered in Alberta. Hinshaw said 32,700 Albertans have received the full two doses.