Alberta reported an additional 678 COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours.
The province completed more than 14,000 COVID-19 tests and has a positivity rate of 4.8 per cent.
There are 10,256 active cases of the virus in Alberta and there were 16 additional deaths Thursday, bringing the death toll to 1,500.
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said that despite case numbers falling and a lower case positivity rate, COVID-19 restrictions will not yet be eased. The measures, put in place nearly one month ago, were set to expire Thursday. She did not say how much longer the current measures will last.
Hinshaw noted that Alberta still has the second-highest active case rate per capita in Canada.
“In a year that has already been extremely difficult, I am proud of the sacrifices and community spirit that Albertans have shown to produce these encouraging numbers. At the same time, we are not in the clear just yet,” Hinshaw said.
Alberta now has 726 people in hospital due to the virus, including 119 in the ICU. Hinshaw said those numbers will ultimately lead to the province easing more COVID-19 measures.
Central zone sits at 931 active cases of the virus, with 58 people in hospital, including nine in intensive care. One more death was recorded in the local zone: a man in his 50s from Ponoka County, who died on Jan. 17.
Red Deer now sits at 173 active cases of COVID-19 and Red Deer County has 38 active cases.
Lacombe County has 21 active and Clearwater County has 89 active cases.
Lacombe has 22 active cases, Sylvan Lake has 21 active, Drumheller has 11 active and Olds sits at 12 active.
Mountain View County has 20 active and Kneehill County seven active.
Camrose sits at 55 active and Camrose County has six active.
Ponoka County, the County of Wetaskiwin and Wetaskiwin have 358 combined active cases of COVID-19.
Hinshaw also addressed the possibility of the province loosening restrictions by zones and said because of the interconnectedness of the province, it wouldn’t be ideal to open that way. She added that because the health system is provincial, they rely on hospital capacity across the board to keep Albertans safe.
“COVID-19 cannot be restricted to a specific municipality,” she said.
“What we saw over the fall is how interconnected we are all and the movement between large urban centres and small rural areas. All of that movement is what spreads COVID-19.”