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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Alberta, the spread of the virus is vastly different across the province.
Even within Calgary, where there were 202 active novel coronavirus cases as of Thursday, there’s a wide regional variance in case counts. In some parts of the city, the virus is all but gone. In others, dozens of active cases remain.
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According to newly released data from Alberta Health Services, most communities on the west side of Calgary have fewer active COVID-19 cases than the city’s northeast and core on a per-capita basis.
As a whole, Calgary has 15 active coronavirus cases per 100,000 citizens. However, the rate of infection is below five cases per 100,000 in four west Calgary regions: West, Fish Creek, Centre West and West Bow, encompassing communities such as Canyon Meadows, Killarney and Bowness.
On the other end of the spectrum, three regions in Calgary have more than 30 active coronavirus cases per 100,000: Lower Northeast, Upper Northeast, and Centre. The Centre region — the most densely infected in Calgary, with 36.3 active cases per 100,000 residents — includes downtown, the Beltline, Inglewood and Ogden.
Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said last week the province is tracking COVID-19 case rates regionally to monitor areas where it may be necessary to reinstate some public-health restrictions.
When a region has more than 50 active cases per 100,000 residents (or more than 10 active cases total for smaller jurisdictions) public-health officials will begin to consider regionally introducing some measures meant to curb the spread of COVID-19 in that community, Hinshaw said.
Currently, only two smaller regions hit that threshold: Cardston County in the province’s south and Clear Hills County in the northwest. No restrictions have been added to either area, but any measures introduced would be informed by local context, Hinshaw said last week.
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One more Albertan died of the coronavirus Thursday, bringing the province’s toll from the virus to 152 deaths. The death was a woman in her 80s from the AHS Edmonton zone not connected to a continuing-care centre.
The province reported 49 new coronavirus cases Thursday, meaning there have now been 7,579 cases reported since the virus was first detected in Alberta in early March.
The new cases came from just under 8,000 tests, about a 0.6 per cent positive rate. More new cases came from the AHS Edmonton zone than any other region, continuing a recent trend that’s seen Alberta’s capital region begin to catch up to the Calgary area in active COVID-19 cases.
There are 489 active COVID-19 cases in Alberta, 222 of which are in the Calgary zone and 200 of which are in the Edmonton zone. Additionally, 6,938 Albertans have recovered from the coronavirus.
As of Thursday, 34 Albertans were receiving hospital treatment for the coronavirus, six of whom were in intensive-care units — a slight decline in both metrics from Wednesday.
As well, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada surpassed 100,000 Thursday, with 8,257 of those cases being fatal.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Thursday the federal government was ready to test a new contact tracing phone app meant to alert Canadians who may have been exposed to a person infected with COVID-19.
The app uses Bluetooth software and will be first tested in Ontario before becoming available across Canada.
Alberta released its own contact tracing app in early May called ABTraceTogether, though concerns emerged about the app’s practicality and usability.
— With files from The Canadian Press