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1,549 new COVID-19 cases, 5 deaths in Alberta

Last Updated Nov 24, 2020 at 6:08 am MST

EDMONTON (660 NEWS)- The province announced 1,549 new COVID-19 infections Monday, along with five new deaths.

It’s the second-largest single-day increase in Alberta, adding to a string of days with case counts well over 1,000.

Alberta now leads the country in active cases with a total of 13,166.

“It’s clear we have reached a precarious point in Alberta,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, said during Monday’s briefing.

“The virus is spreading faster and more widely than at any other point during the pandemic.”

Hinshaw described the province’s current situation as a snowball rolling down a hill, growing bigger and faster.

“It will continue unless we implement strong measures to stop.”

Hinshaw confirmed more restrictions would be announced Tuesday, adding there would be live briefings every day this week.

WATCH: Dr. Deena Hinshaw provides update on COVID-19 in Alberta

The five new deaths included a man in his 70s from the Edmonton zone, a man in his 80s from the north zone, and a woman in her 50s and a man in his 70s, both from the Calgary zone. Those four were all linked to outbreaks at long term care facilities.

The fifth death was a woman in her 70s from the south zone.

Almost 19,500 tests were done in the last 24 hours with a positivity rate of about eight per cent.

Nearly 370 are in the hospital with the virus, with 62 people in the ICU.

As Alberta experiences a significant rise in new COVID-19 cases, changes have been made to contact tracing.

“In order to maximize the effectiveness of the team, I have asked AHS to start with the most recently diagnosed cases and work backwards, trying to reach as many cases as possible, but prioritizing the cases which will have the greatest benefit in reducing further transmission,” Hinshaw said.

Starting Tuesday, if 10 days have passed since an Albertan received their positive COVID-19 test result, AHS will no longer call that individual to conduct case investigations or contact tracing. Instead, individuals will receive a text message that will notify them to not expect a call and provide guidance on if or when their isolation period has ended.

This measure is only temporary.

“I am sorry that this change will leave a group of people without the opportunity to have a conversation with AHS to understand where they acquired the infection and how to better prevent onward spread,” Hinshaw said.

She added it’s important for the province to look forward and use contact tracers, where they have the greatest impact.