The day after Premier Jason Kenney promised an imminent announcement of removing public health restrictions and the Restrictions Exemption Program, provincial health authorities announced the COVID-19 deaths of 26 people had been reported in the past 24 hours.

That brought the pandemic death toll to 3,634. Data from the province indicates 83 Albertans have died of COVID-19 since Friday, Jan. 28.

Total hospitalizations remained flat from Thursday at 1,584, but six more people had been admitted to intensive care for a total of 118.

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On Friday afternoon, chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw tweeted in response to inquiries whether people with previous infection require vaccination. She said recovery from a COVID infection “provides some protection but we do not know how strong that protection is or how long it lasts.”

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“Getting fully vaccinated (with) all the doses we are eligible for is still the best way to make sure that we (and) those around us are protected against severe illness and outcomes such as hospitalization due to COVID-19,” Hinshaw wrote.

The PCR testing positivity rate was 33.6 per cent in the province, a slight dip from the day before, with 2,086 new lab-confirmed cases detected from 6,226 tests. The seven-day average positivity rate was at 36 per cent, and has only seen a one per cent drop in the past six averaging periods.

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Vaccinated Canadians who catch COVID-19 can get booster 3 months after positive test: NACI

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The count of active, lab-confirmed cases sits at 32,711. Alberta’s chief medical officer has said due to the restrictions on PCR testing right now, actual active cases could be 10 times higher.

Alberta Health Services announced on Twitter it would be allowing support persons and visitors on AHS sites to wear their own KN95 or N95 masks, “provided the mask is clean.”

“However, those supporting a COVID-19-positive or suspected COVID-19 positive patient may be provided with a best-fit KN95 / N95, or procedure mask,” one tweet read.

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AHS stressed the importance of proper fit and use of a respirator to maximize their benefit.

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