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Kenney expects to relax COVID-19 measures this month as hospitalizations 'plateau'


Alberta's premier said he expects to relax COVID-19 restrictions in February as the chief medical officer of health said hospitalizations are plateauing.

There are currently 35,322 known active cases in Alberta, down from more than 67,000 two weeks ago, what Premier Jason Kenney called the peak of the Omicron variant.

The actual number of cases in the province is believed to be higher due to limited availability to PCR tests and the province not counting rapid test results.

There are 1,585 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 109 people in the ICU. COVID-19 patients in the ICU make up more than half of the 195 total admissions as of Tuesday.

The province also announced 13 new deaths due to COVID-19.

“We are not out of the woods yet, I implore Albertans to continue to be mindful of this, of the pressure on our health-care system, so as frustrated as everyone is… we need to continue to be careful,” said Kenney.

He added that there is still an “unusually high” number of frontline workers who need to self-isolate due to COVID-19 infections.

“Our hospitalizations for COVID-19 may be beginning to plateau, although it is important to note they are still currently higher than at any other time in the pandemic,” said Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health.

“While our leading indicators of wastewater surveillance and positivity are signaling that we are on the other side of the fifth wave… it is critical to remember that half of all of our cases come in the second part of the wave and transmission is still very high.”

Hinshaw added that Alberta’s healthcare system is “still under significant strain.”


The premier believes that Alberta will be able to relax public health restrictions sometime in February.

“Once we begin to see a sustained reduction in COVID pressure on the hospitals, I am looking forward to being able to make decisions on relaxation on public health measures,” said Kenney.

“I believe that will happen this month, in February… including the elimination of the restriction exemption or the proof of vaccination program. I just ask people to be a little more patient.”

The premier said that there aren’t specific numbers in the province that would trigger restrictions to be relaxed, but the number of non-ICU patients would need to decline.

“We are likely now around or at the peak of those non-ICU COVID hospitalizations,” said Kenney. “As long as that number is that high… we are continuing to see some postponement of surgeries and other medical procedures, we’re operating at about 85 per cent of our typical surgical capacity right now.”

The relaxation of restrictions will likely happen in phases, Kenney added.

New shipments of rapid tests will also be available in First Nations communities, pharmacies in Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer and Alberta Health Services sites. The province is sending out more than 3.1 million test kits, though it's not known when they will arrive.

In order to get a rapid test kit, people need to bring a piece of ID and their Alberta health care card.

More rapid tests and masks are also on their way to schools, added Hinshaw. The second set of shipments started last week and around a third of those supplies have been sent out so far.

Cases of the flu have also been recorded in the province after none were reported in 2021. Hinshaw said 39 cases of seasonal influenza have been reported and one person had to be hospitalized because of the flu.

“While that’s a very small number compared to previous years, more cases of influenza would put further strain on Alberta’s healthcare system,” added Hinshaw. Top Stories

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