Alberta is reporting a slight drop in the number of critically ill COVID-19 patients in hospital.
Alberta Health Services says in a statement that there are 298 patients in intensive care wards, most of them with the infection.
That’s down three per cent from a week ago.
The province has been scrambling for weeks to create ad hoc intensive care beds to accommodate thousands of new COVID-19 patients.
There are 374 intensive care beds, more than double the normal 173.
Alberta has put out a call for help, and that aid is set to arrive soon.
A military contingent was expected to be on the ground Monday to decide where to deploy eight critical care nurses.
Public Safety Canada said the Canadian Red Cross is also planning to send up to 20 medical professionals, some with intensive care experience, to augment or relieve staff in hospitals.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said Canadian Armed Forces members will use their experience to help Alberta battle the fourth wave of the pandemic.
Operation LASER is the Canadian Armed Forces’ response to COVID-19. Sajjan said that since the beginning of the pandemic, the military has responded to more than 65 requests for assistance from provincial or federal partners.
Newfoundland and Labrador is also sending a medical team of five or six intensive care staff to work in Alberta’s northern oil city of Fort McMurray.
There have been more than 1,000 new daily cases of COVID-19 for weeks and Alberta Health Services has had to reassign staff to handle the surge of intensive care patients. There have been mass cancellations of non-urgent surgeries as a result.
Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley urged Premier Jason Kenney’s United Conservative government to deliver a daily report on how many critical surgeries have been postponed.
She said the government should reveal a plan on how to catch up on the backlog, along with modelling to show how long the health emergency will last.
“We are in a crisis. We need transparency, accountability and real, substantial action to get through it,” Notley said in Calgary.
Intensive care physicians, emergency ward doctors, the executive of the Alberta Medical Association and the Canadian Medical Association have called for a lockdown in the province to try to stem the tide of COVID-19 patients.
Kenney said last week he wants to see if recent health measures, including an indoor mask mandate, gathering restrictions and a form of vaccine passport, boost vaccination rates.
Latest COVID-19 numbers in Alberta
Over 4,000 new cases of COVID-19 were identified in Alberta over the weekend. On Monday afternoon, Alberta Health said the province had 20,674 active cases of the disease, 459 more than there were on Friday afternoon.
The Calgary zone currently has more active cases (4,930) than any other region in the province, followed closely by the Edmonton zone (4,903), the Central zone (4,379) and the North zone (4,211).
Of the new coronavirus cases added over the weekend, 1,629 were identified on Oct. 1, 1,282 were identified on Oct. 2 and 1,126 were identified on Oct. 3.
Oct. 3 is the latest date for which a positivity rate was posted in Alberta: 10.94 per cent.
Alberta Health said Monday that 2,752 people in the province have now died of COVID-19 — 21 more than on Friday.
–With files from Global News’ Phil Heidenreich