Alberta is not easing any of the current COVID-19 restrictions yet and it is unknown when measures will lift.
On Thursday, Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw addressed the province, on the one-year anniversary of her first provincial address, and said further restriction will remain in place until COVID-19 hospitalization and ICU rates drop.
Hinshaw said the daily new case count will also be important when making the decision to ease restrictions, along with positivity rate and the provincial R-value.
The current restrictions were imposed on Dec. 13 and were slated to last for four weeks, but were extended an additional two weeks. They will now continue for an unknown amount of time.
If restrictions ease too early, Hinshaw said all of the hard work Albertans have done to get COVID-19 numbers down will be wiped away and the province will be battling an even bigger challenge.
Alberta's top doctor said with hospitalizations still high, it is important Albertans keep following current public health restrictions. Right now, there are 726 people in the hospital with 119 of them in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), which Hinshaw said was the same amount of hospitalizations as Dec. 8, when the province announced the current restrictions.
"That is why it is essential that we keep current measures in place for a little while longer," Hinshaw said, adding Alberta has the second-highest active case rate per capita in Canada.
On Thursday, the province announced another 678 new cases of COVID-19 diagnosed overnight with 14,000 tests run for a positivity rate of 4.8 per cent.
There are currently active alerts in 178 schools and outbreaks in four schools. There was likely in-school transmission in 23 schools, with 20 of those schools having just one new case.
The province is averaging 80 new cases per day in school-aged populations, compared to 140 per day in the week before school started again.
In the past 24 hours, another 16 new deaths were reported to the province.
Overall, Hinshaw said cases are dropping and the restrictions are working to prevent people from getting exposed to COVID-19 and getting sick.
'We are on a positive trend," Hinshaw said.
"An overwhelming majority of Albertans are doing their part."
There have been 96,000 doses of vaccine delivered in the province.