Edmonton must 'stay the course' but no new measures recommended against COVID-19 variants
EDMONTON -- City and health officials emphasized the need to "stay the course" with current measures Wednesday as more contagious strains of COVID-19 arrive in Alberta.
During the city's monthly Emergency Advisory Committee meeting, city administrators said no additional restrictions are recommended at this time, as they believe the province is taking the threat of the new variants seriously.
"We have daily contact with the province," said City Manager Andre Corbould. "We're not just sitting and waiting, we are having those active discussions every day to make sure we can be very reactive and very proactive to do the things we may need to consider."
Both the U.K. and South African variant of COVID-19 have been detected in Alberta and one case appears to be the result of community transmission, the province reported Monday.
Emerging evidence shows both variants may be more contagious and in the case of the U.K. variant, potentially more severe.
"Fast spreading variants could introduce a new third wave while we wait for vaccine rollout, extending the delay of our economic recovery, thus the need to remain vigilante in the coming days," said Corbould.
Mayor Don Iveson commended Edmontonians for following public health guidelines saying they are "saving lives."
"We're starting to see active cases decrease significantly, which is very promising news; however, that good news is tempered with the reality this virus is very much still with us and the health impacts of COVID in the Edmonton zone remain very serious," he said.
As of Jan. 26, Edmonton had 3,027 active cases, 119 new cases, 272 hospitalizations and 37 patients in intensive care.
"We still have very high rates of hospitalizations and use of intensive care spaces related to COVID-19," said Dr. Chris Sikora, medical officer of health for the Edmonton zone. "So we aren't out of the woods yet from a health care system perspective."
The city manager acknowledged 2021 will a challenging balancing act.
"The first is the active case data that causes us to be optimistic, we have a vaccine supply that is unpredictable, new COVID variants and the risk of spread are a new entity being brought into the equation, and finally local businesses are very eager and some desperate to resume operations as soon as possible," said Corbould.
"Administration is ready to collaborate with provincial and regional colleagues to forge a path forward."