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Alberta updates COVID-19 modelling, adds low ‘likely’ scenario

Hinshaw says new COVID-19 modelling is good news, but ‘fight far from over’
WATCH: Alberta's Dr. Deena Hinshaw responds to the province's latest COVID-19 modelling numbers.

Alberta released new revised data regarding the projected trends and health impacts of the novel coronavirus in the province and added a new “low” modelling scenario Tuesday.

READ MORE: ‘Probable’ Alberta COVID-19 model predicts 400-3,100 deaths: Kenney

Under the new low forecast, an estimated 298 Albertans will require hospitalization and 95 will require critical care when the virus reaches its peak.

“If current trends continue, this scenario will become the most likely scenario for Alberta,” the government said.

Updated modelling scenarios continue to estimate that Alberta’s outbreak will reach its peak in late May.

Kenney hopes to begin reopening some things in a couple of weeks
Kenney hopes to begin reopening some things in a couple of weeks

Premier Jason Kenney said hospitalizations and admissions to intensive care units remain “well below” the initial model predictions.

READ MORE: Close to 500 Alberta health-care workers have tested positive for COVID-19

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“The health-care system continues to be able to manage – quite capably,” Kenney said.

“The data show us that our efforts to lower the peak of the virus are working, but we must remain vigilant.

“While we are still a ways off from returning to our normal way of life, our government is working around the clock on a phased approach to relaunch our economy safely.

Alberta’s updated COVID-19 modelling shows health measures are working
Alberta’s updated COVID-19 modelling shows health measures are working

“It is essential Albertans continue to exercise common sense and follow public health guidance so we can get the economy moving again as quickly as possible.”

The province continues to watch several numbers while considering the relaunch plan: the number of hospitalizations, the number of ICU admissions, the rate of growth of confirmed COVID-19 cases and the confirmed cases as a percentage of total tests.

Alberta’s new COVID-19 models are ‘encouraging’: Kenney
Alberta’s new COVID-19 models are ‘encouraging’: Kenney

Alberta COVID-19 Case Model… by Emily Mertz on Scribd

Kenney said more details on the relaunch plan would be released “later this week.”

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While the premier initially anticipated the relaunch strategy to begin being rolled out sometime in June, he’s now optimistic it could start “in a couple of weeks.”

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Kenney says province will start announcing measures to relax some restrictions soon
Kenney says province will start announcing measures to relax some restrictions soon

Based on the latest Alberta-specific data, the province also revised its previously released “probable” and “elevated” scenarios.

The probable scenario now estimates 596 people in Alberta will require hospitalization, with 190 requiring critical care on the days when the virus reaches its peak.

READ MORE: Alberta data showing up to 3,100 deaths prompts province to increase beds, ventilators

The revised elevated scenario now shows an expected 745 hospitalizations from the virus at its peak.

However, the province said the low scenario is “fortunately becoming our most realistic” because of aggressive public health measures, strong testing measures and Alberta’s younger-than-average population.

“We have the youngest population in the country,” Kenney said, “and we have the best testing program, which means more people are being tested than other jurisdictions.”

The premier said even those people who don’t require hospitalization or have severe symptoms are tested, which helps understand the virus, its spread and contact tracing procedures.

Alberta has completed 138,681 COVID-19 tests as of Tuesday, with a daily average of 2,329.

The model uses several key assumptions, including:

  • Not all cases are detected
  • Transmission is more common within an age group, rather than between age groups
  • There is no asymptomatic transmission
  • People are infectious for five to 10 days
  • All ICU patients require ventilation
  • Overall, nine per cent of cases are hospitalized and two per cent require ICU, but this varies significantly by age. The low scenario assumes 4.5 per cent of cases are hospitalized and one per cent require ICU, which aligns with actual results.

“The modelling forecast shared today is good news,” Alberta’s chief medical officer of health said.

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“Alberta is starting to see the results of the collective sacrifices we’re making.” However, Dr. Deena Hinshaw stressed the low model outcome “is not a guarantee.”

“Cases could easily spike if we’re not careful.”

“Many of you are tired of hearing me say, ‘We’re all in this together.’

“Today I am asking you to celebrate the success we’ve had by holding on just a little longer. Our public health measures are working and we need them to keep working,” she said.

Alberta sees 5 more deaths, 154 new cases from COVID-19 on Tuesday
Alberta sees 5 more deaths, 154 new cases from COVID-19 on Tuesday

On Tuesday, Alberta confirmed 154 new cases, bringing the provincial total to 4,850.

Five more people died from the virus.

“There have now been 80 deaths in our province,” Hinshaw said. “This include two deaths at continuing care facilities.

“I want to offer my heartfelt sympathies… COVID-19 can be deadly… no one is immune.”

The people who died from the virus are a man in his 90s at AgeCare Sunrise Gardens, a man in his 80s from Intercare Chinook Care Centre, a man in his 80s from the Calgary zone, a woman in her 60s from the Edmonton zone and a woman in her 50s from the South zone.

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READ MORE: Alberta reports 216 additional COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths; outbreak confirmed at First Nation

As of Tuesday, there are 82 Albertans in hospital, 21 of whom were in ICU.

There have been 1,800 recovered cases in Alberta so far.

Hinshaw said there are 759 confirmed cases in workers at the Cargill meat plant and 249 cases in employees and contractors at the JBS plant in Brooks, Alta.

“These outbreaks show the remarkable ability of the virus to spread quickly in group settings,” Hinshaw said.