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Alberta’s health minister has tested positive for COVID-19 and provincial hospitalizations exceed 1,000 patients for the first time since September as the Omicron variant spreads rapidly.

Minister Jason Copping says on social media that he tested positive on a rapid test after displaying mild symptoms last week and is isolating at home.

Provincial figures show there are 94 patients receiving intensive care – a jump of 13 from before the weekend.

The death toll rose by 23 people, including a child between five and nine years old – one of the youngest COVID-19 deaths on record in the province.

Provincial figures show more than 15,000 Albertans tested positive for the virus from Friday to Sunday, with positivity rates between 35 and 39 per cent.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health, has said infections are far greater than provincial data shows – possibly as much as 10 times higher.

“Please stay home if you have symptoms, and take a rapid test if you can,” Copping said Monday on social media.

“I urge any Albertan who hasn’t gotten immunized or still needs a booster to consider doing so. Reports suggest fully vaccinated individuals are 19 times less likely to end up in the hospital with Omicron than unvaccinated individuals.”

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