Alberta reports 770 COVID-19 cases, gradual return of surgeries and procedures begins
Alberta reported 770 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday as pressure on the health care system starts to ease.
According to Alberta Health, the provincial positivity rate is approximately 6.5 per cent, after about 11,800 tests were completed. There are currently 10,434 active cases of COVID-19.
There 912 Albertans in hospital receiving treatment for COVID-19, including 201 in ICUs.
“We continue to see these numbers declining, but it's important to remember that this takes time and this trend could reverse quickly if we are not careful,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw.
Hinshaw said the majority of Albertans who end up in hospital, need to be admitted to the ICU, or die from the disease continue to be unvaccinated.
Across the province, there are active alerts or outbreaks at 288 schools. Hinshaw said that at four of those schools, there were more than 10 cases of COVID-19 reported after individuals with COVID-19 while infectious attended.
Eight more deaths were reported Thursday, raising the provincial total to 3,014. The deaths ranged in age from people in their 30s to over 80.
More than 6.4 million vaccine doses have been administered as of Wednesday.
SOME SURGERIES TO RESUME
Alberta Health Services is gradually beginning to stand down some surge ICU spaces and restart non-COVID-related surgeries and procedures.
According to the provincial health authority, twenty-six surge ICU spaces will be taken out of service and staff responsible for them will be redeployed to allow for the resumption of medical procedures.
In a statement to CTV News, Alberta Health Services (AHS) said it continues to do all it can to ensure there is enough ICU capacity.
“With pressure easing slightly on our ICUs, we are reducing the available surge beds so that we can redeploy staff back to caring for non-COVID patients who need surgeries and procedures completed,” said Kerry Williamson, AHS spokesperson.
“We will ensure that we maintain ICU capacity above daily demand to a planned maximum of 380 beds as long as staff and physician availability allows,” Williamson added. “(We) will readjust our plans as needed if COVID cases rise again.”
As of 1:45 p.m. Thursday, AHS said there was a total of 350 adult ICU beds, including 177 additional surge spaces. Of those, 81 per cent, or 238 are occupied.
The Edmonton zone, with the most ICU beds and surge spaces in the province, is operating at 90 per cent of current ICU capacity levels.
The Central zone is at 83 per cent, while the South zone is at 75 per cent. The North and Calgary zones are operating at 79 and 73 per cent, respectively.
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HINSHAW TO HOST TOWN HALL ABOUT VACCINE SAFETY
The chief medical officer of health said despite misinformation circulating on social media, no medical studies have shown the vaccines impact the fertility of men or women.
“There is no evidence suggesting that these vaccines impact fertility in any way,” Hinshaw said.
Additionally, Hinshaw urged those who are pregnant or nursing to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
For those who are pregnant, Hinshaw said that the variants of concern have increased the risk of severe outcomes.
“Vaccine safety is a critical issue in pregnancy and data from thousands of pregnant women who have received vaccines has not shown any increased risk in pregnancy.”
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Hinshaw said that many Albertans still have questions about vaccine safety. To help answer those, the province will host a telephone town hall where the top doctor will be joined by other physicians.
The registration link to attend the free event will be shared on Hinshaw’s social media profiles.
“It’s free for anyone who wants to call in and ask a question about this issue.”
'STRONG' THIRD DOSE UPTAKE
The top doctor in Alberta said that more than 231,000 third booster doses of vaccine had been administered to date.
“It’s been wonderful to see a strong uptake from Albertans eligible for third doses over the last few weeks,” she said.
Currently, seniors aged 75 years or older; First Nations, Metis, or Inuit individuals aged 65 years or older; and those with severely immunocompromising conditions are eligible to receive a booster dose.
Boosters can be administered six months after receiving a second dose, except for those who are immunocompromised who can receive their third shot after eight weeks from getting their second dose.
“The third dose is a booster to strengthen and prolong the protection from the primary series of two doses,” Hinshaw explained.
“While we offer boosters to these groups, we also know there are still people who don’t have the protection that the first and second doses of the vaccine offer,” she added.