As COVID cases rise in Alberta, the B.1.617 "Delta" variant of the virus continues to spread in Edmonton according to data from Alberta Health Services.
The Delta variant has sparked concern among public health officials since it was first discovered in December. The U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has warned the variant might be twice as contagious as the original COVID-19 strain and said that there is some evidence that it can cause more severe illness. Delta became the dominant strain of COVID worldwide in July, according to the CDC.
Delta's spread has added to a surge of new COVID cases in Edmonton over the past month. As of Aug. 12, the Edmonton zone reported 1,063 active COVID cases, with the majority of them being the Delta variant.
The resurgence of the virus has led provincial officials to reconsider scaling back COVID protections. The government said last week it would delay plans to reduce both contact tracing and COVID testing and to scrap mandatory isolation requirements, for six weeks. The province also decided to leave back-to-school measures up to school boards.
In Edmonton, city council voted on Aug. 16 to have administration prepare amendments to the Temporary Mandatory Face Coverings Bylaw to continue to require masks on public transit and vehicles for hire as of Sept. 27, when the provincial requirements are set to expire. And on Aug. 13, the Edmonton Public School Board announced that students returning to the classroom will have to wear masks until a vaccine for children is ready.
Vaccines, health officials say, are still an important part of slowing down the spread of Delta. While there have been cases of breakthrough infections in those who are fully vaccinated, those who have not received the shot are bearing the brunt of the highly contagious variant. For information on booking a vaccine appointment in Edmonton, visit Alberta Health Services' website.