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COVID-19 in Alberta: 8 more deaths, hospitalizations continue to grow as Omicron spreads

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Severe outcomes of COVID-19 continued to worsen on Thursday as the Omicron variant spreads rapidly across Alberta.

Premier Jason Kenney and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported the latest data on Thursday afternoon and acknowledged the highly transmissible variant will have a significant impact on Alberta hospitals.

Hospitalizations grew by 38 on Thursday to a total of 786 as ICU admissions decreased from 82 to 79.

Kenney said Omicron is having a "modest impact" on ICUs but a "much more significant impact" on non- ICU beds.

"Some good news is that people have a shorter stay and less severe symptoms," he added.

"The situation we're in today is serious and has the potential to get more serious."

Eight more Albertans have died due to the disease, increasing the total number to 3,375.

Alberta registered 6,010 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday after nearly 14,350 PCR tests, increasing known active infections to 62,733.

"These numbers only represent a fraction of the actual spread that's been happening in the province," Kenney said.

Nearly 80 per cent of eligible Albertans have one vaccine dose, while 73.3 per cent have two and 27.6 per cent have three.

Alberta will update its COVID-19 data on Friday afternoon.

RAPID TESTS

Alberta's premier also gave an update on the delayed rapid tests that were promised to schools by the end of the week.

On Wednesday, Health Minister Jason Copping said shipments from the federal government and Alberta's own supplier were delayed.

Copping hoped to receive 4.8 million tests by the end of the week, and Kenney said one million arrived Wednesday night.

The premier is now expecting 3.7 million tests to arrive later this week for schools, health-care workers and First Nations.

The province has received 58 per cent of the shipment destined for teachers and students.

"We're hoping to get every school covered by the end of this week," Kenney said.

OTHER COVID-19 RELATED NEWS 

Calgary and Edmonton are hosting separate hockey tournaments this week with about 600 teams each. Some sports and recreation organizations say operating tournaments and leagues as safely as possible is worth the risk to support players' mental and physical health.

Frontline workers say the cracks are forming in Alberta's health-care system, from ambulance service disruptions to exhaustion among the workforce

Calls for a circuit-breaker lockdown from Alberta's largest unions, representing hundreds of thousands of workers, have put the business community on edge, says the CEO of Calgary's chamber of commerce. She says Alberta needs to be focused on other tools, like vaccine mandates for workers, increased testing capacity, and contact tracing, to manage the wave of Omicron cases. 

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