'Another tragically high total': Alberta reports 30 deaths, 916 new COVID-19 cases
Alberta reported 916 new cases of COVID-19 and 30 deaths from the disease at a pandemic update Thursday afternoon.
The province completed about 12,700 tests, translating to a 7.5 per cent positivity rate. The seven-day average of new infections sits at 890.
There are 13,423 active cases of COVID-19 throughout the province.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the deaths reported Thursday were from Oct. 7 to 13, and that the majority of people were unvaccinated.
“This is another tragically high total,” she said. “The high number of fatalities that we have seen recently are the result of rapid spread.
“This is another reason why we all need to keep limiting in-person contact and driving cases downward.”
The 30 deaths reported Thursday raised the pandemic total to 2,930. All the newly reported deaths were from people in their 70s, 80s, and 90s, except for three between the ages of 50 and 60.
There are now 1,016 Albertans in hospital with COVID-19, including 231 in ICU. Sixty-seven people were hospitalized on Thursday, driven primarily by those aged 60 to 69, 50 to 59, and 40 to 49.
In a statement to CTV News, Alberta Health Services (AHS) said it continues to do all it can to ensure ICU capacity can meet patient demand.
As of 2 p.m. Thursday, there are 372 total ICU beds in the province, with 282 full.
“While the number of patients in ICU fluctuates constantly, the number of patients in ICU has decreased by five per cent over the past seven days,” AHS said in a statement.
The North Zone has the highest amount of ICU capacity filled. As of Thursday afternoon, it was operating at 84 per cent.
The South Zone has 83 per cent capacity filled, while ICU capacity in the Edmonton Zone is operating at 76 per cent. ICU capacity in the Central and Calgary zones was at 75 and 72 per cent, respectively.
Nineteen more people were admitted to ICUs on Thursday, mostly driven by those aged 60 to 69 and 70 to 79. One admission was of an Albertan between the ages of five and nine years old.
“This is a significant improvement from just one month ago when our ICUs were close to 90 per cent occupancy, including the surge capacity, and the number of ICU patients was increasing rapidly each day,” said Dr. Verna Yiu, AHS CEO and president.
According to Yiu, the average number of ICU patients admitted in Alberta has reduced from more than 20 a day to about 13 to 15.
“This is still a high number because these admissions are preventable,” Yiu added. “We are grateful that the numbers appear to be falling.
“But we know that this trend can be reversed easily, especially if we become complacent, and we remain uncertain as to the potential impact of the Thanksgiving weekend.”
Yiu said surgical teams are carefully planning to increase the amount of procedures offered again in hospitals in the province, but that there is “no timeline” for a return to normal surgical volumes.
On Wednesday, Alberta Health reported 38 COVID-19 deaths and 652 new cases.
Just over 85 per cent of eligible Albertans have one vaccine dose and 76.2 per cent have two.
With the arrival of colder temperatures, Hinshaw said it is important everyone receive their annual flu shot.
“While influenza and COVID-19 are very different illnesses, several of the symptoms are the same,” she said.
The majority of measures that help limit the spread of COVID-19, like increased handwashing and sanitization, and physical distancing, are effective against influenza, she said.
“We don’t need to look further than the last influenza season for proof of that,” Hinshaw said.
“Despite conducting about 2.5 times the number of influenza tests as we did the previous year, we had zero lab confirmed cases of seasonal influenza and no influenza deaths.”
This year, Hinshaw said there have already been three lab confirmed influenza cases. She urged Albertans to get their flu shot once they become available.
Last year the province saw the highest amount of flu shots administered in the past 10 years, with more than 1.65 million doses administered.
Every Albertan over the age of six months can is eligible to receive a free annual influenza vaccination at a pharmacy or some doctor offices.
“Influenza remains a serious and deadly virus,” she added. “To ease the system strain caused by increased demand for COVID-19 and influenza testing, I urge every eligible Albertan to get the COVID-19 and influenza vaccines as soon as you are able to.
“This will greatly reduce the number of people who get infected and the number of symptomatic people who need to be tested.”
Hinshaw said that scientific and medical reviews determined it is safe for people to receive both their COVID-19 vaccine and influenza vaccine at the same time.
More information about Alberta’s influenza campaign and flu shots is expected to be released in the coming days.