Alberta reports 531 new COVID-19 cases, will implement new rules in continuing care facilities
Premier Jason Kenney announced new rules will be put in place to protect residents and staff at continuing care facilities on Oct. 25.
The province announced 531 new COVID-19 cases after 8,030 tests on Oct. 18. There are currently 11,402 active cases in the province.
There are 964 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 218 in intensive care.
“I would like to thank Albertans for all that they have done to push down the fourth wave,” said Kenney.
Kenney also said that there does not seem to have been a jump in cases due to Thanksgiving gatherings, despite previous long weekends resulting in increases.
“Although we need to keep watching over the next few days, as it’s a little too early to see, completely, the full impact,” said Kenney.
CONTINUING CARE FACILITIES
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said that visitors in continuing care facilities will be required to wear masks in all areas of the facilities.
“The only exception will be where there are significant communication challenges, such as a resident being hard of hearing, or an individual with dementia,” said Hinshaw.
Hinshaw also announced new quarantine rules for residents being admitted to a facility from acute care or returning from a hospital if they stayed for more than 24 hours. It will last until a negative COVID-19 test is received.
“I will also be sending a letter out, strongly encouraging families and friends who are not fully vaccinated to not visit or attend to residents in person,” added Hinshaw. “I know this will impact residents in different ways, but it is very important to protect residents and staff from COVID-19.
“While this is a recommendation, in the letter I will also reinforce that operators have the authority to implement additional mandatory measures in their facilities as appropriate, in consultation with their residents and families. This could include requirements for proof of vaccination or rapid tests for visitors entering the site.”
ICU DEMAND STILL HIGH
Kenney and Dr. Verna Yiu, the president and CEO of Alberta Health Services, announced that the number of Albertans in the ICU has decreased, but the need for those beds has stayed high.
“This is partially due to our decision to increase the number of surgeries that our teams are performing each week,” said Yiu. “As pressures from COVID decrease, we’re able to use more of our ICU beds for their intended purpose.
“Many Albertans have had their surgeries and procedures delayed over the past two months and we need to look after those people as soon as we can.”
There are 203 surge ICU beds in the province and Yiu announced that number will be decreased incrementally in the coming weeks.
“We will ensure that we maintain ICU capacity above daily demand to the maximum we can, given available staff and physicians and a return to more usual levels of surgical care,” said Yiu
There are still more Albertans in hospital with COVID-19 currently than at the peak of any previous wave, according to Kenney.
“It’ll take many weeks for this to decline significantly,” added Kenney.