More limits and improvements to the vaccine policy are being advocated as Alberta once again matches the second wave’s heights.

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COVID-19 figures in Alberta have now exceeded those seen only during the second wave, leading experts to call for further controls and a vaccination policy that prioritizes public-facing critical staff.

On Thursday, the province announced 1,857 new cases of COVID-19, surpassing case counts at the peak of the second wave, and hospitalization rates are skyrocketing, with 518 people in hospital, including 116 in ICU.

Meanwhile, the more dangerous and easily transmissible variant cases are on the rise, accounting for 60% of all active cases.

Alberta has also recorded the first COVID-19 case, which has been related to the B1617 variant that is causing an increase in cases in India.

These factors indicate that the province will face “major difficulties,” as the figures are approaching the height of the second wave while still being early in the third, according to Dr. Noel Gibney, co-chair of the pandemic response committee for the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association.

Situations are deteriorating across Canada, from Ontario to British Columbia, according to Gibney, while Alberta appears satisfied with the current level of restrictions despite increasing case numbers.

Retail should be restricted, and personal services such as hairdressers, massage parlors, and tattoo parlors, as well as places of worship, should be considered, according to Gibney.

Meanwhile, Kirsten Fiest, an epidemiologist and assistant professor at the University of Calgary, told that vaccination for people who deal with the public should be prioritized in Alberta. This includes grocery store employees as well as students.