Alberta has seen its first instance of a variant strain of COVID-19 spreading within a school classroom.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw confirmed the in-school spread at her news conference Wednesday. She said two current cases of variant COVID-19 were likely acquired in school.
“Everyone who is at risk is in quarantine and being offered testing twice,” she said.
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Hinshaw did not reveal where the school was.
She’s aware of seven classes at six schools that have had someone show up during their contagious period while infected with a variant strain of COVID-19. So far, these two new cases at one school are the only ones that sprouted from in-school exposure.
The variant strains identified in the UK and South Africa spread more easily from person to person compared to the current dominant strain, but the infections they cause are no more severe or deadly.
Alberta discovered 16 new variant cases in the last 24 hours, for a total of 120 variant cases seen so far. The province’s labs test about 300 samples per day for the presence of variant strains, which means most or all samples can be screened when new daily case counts are at or below 300.
Alberta discovered 339 new cases on Wednesday and announced six more virus-related deaths.
There are now 421 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 77 in the ICU.