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New COVID variant outbreak identified in Alberta

EDMONTON, AB – Health officials are currently investigating a “significant COVID-19 outbreak” involving a new variant of concern.

The predominant variant strain in Alberta has so far been the B.1.1.7 UK Variant with (as of March 31 data) 4,349 of the 4,377 total variant cases being the B.1.1.7 variety.

On March 31, there were only six total cases of the P.1 Brazilian Variant in Alberta – five of them in the Calgary Zone and one in the Edmonton Zone.

On Saturday (April 3), Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw took to Twitter to share information on an outbreak involving the P.1 variant, saying it’s been linked to a returning traveller.

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She said “health officials are working hard to limit future spread and reaching out directly to those at risk of exposure. AHS will ensure that anyone at risk is isolated, offered testing twice and connected with supports if needed.”

On Monday, Hinshaw offered more information, via Twitter, saying “at this time, the outbreak appears linked to a large employer with multiple sites across Western Canada. The outbreak started with a traveller returning to Alberta from out of province. To date, the spread has been confined to 3 work sites in Central and North Zone, where employees travelled between sites. We have now identified 26 COVID-19 cases linked to employees at these three sites, and their household contacts. So far, only three are confirmed P1 cases, but this will likely increase as more results come in. AHS has been working with the operator and cases to ensure anyone at risk of exposure is offered testing and quarantines to limit the spread. This includes employees at other sites who may have been exposed.”

She also shared information about a second, unrelated P.1 outbreak at a workplace in the Calgary Zone with five cases currently linked to it, including one confirmed case of the P1 variant.

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