Fifty-seven confirmed cases of the new COVID variant in Alberta

COVID-19 case numbers as of February 1st 2021

Alberta Health Services has dedicated an entire team to variant contact tracing, Hinshaw said, reminding the public that while the strains are new, response to them should not be and the public should remain vigilant in following public health orders. Studies show it is more contagious than the original virus, and public-health officials are increasingly anxious about mutations being more resistant to vaccines.

Alberta reported 268 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and 13 more deaths.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw said new COVID-19 strains have spread easily in homes, make isolating from other people in a home hard. The past requirement was 14-days - set in place to cover the incubation period of the virus, in case of exposure. Travellers will be given the option to quarantine in a government-provided hotel room.

There have now been 57 cases of either United Kingdom or South African variant strains detected in Alberta, including eight cases from five different households that have not been linked to travel. She said contacts are being asked to be tested twice for COVID-19.

"Hospitalizations are good for lifting restrictions", he said.

But eight of the 57 cases, found in five different households, have no links to travel yet identified, Hinshaw said.

And, seeing as two of the travel-related variant cases were Calgary students whose parents had returned from an worldwide trip, Alberta is extending isolation requirements to all members of a traveller's household.

Four of those non-travel related cases have been tied to an ongoing outbreak in a daycare. Dr. Hinshaw said there's no evidence of any spread at these schools.

According to Hinshaw, none of the families broke any of the rules with their travel plans.

"I know that some people are also feeling information overload as they try to understand what all of this means", said Hinshaw.

It's the second-highest number of known variant cases amongst the provinces.

A group of Alberta parents heard Tuesday their child was exposed to a COVID-19 variant strain at their daycare.

The provincial positivity rate now sits at 3.5 per cent.

Zain Chagla, a professor of medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton and an infectious-diseases physician, said the 24-day quarantine period is the strictest in Canada.

"Could you imagine being quarantined for 24 days?"

The aggressive quarantine period may be designed, in part, to push people who test positive for a variant to stay in an isolation hotel for the 10 days rather than at home, forcing others in the household to stay in quarantine for almost a month, Dr. Chagla added.

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