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Military begins work at Edmonton hospital as Alberta battles 4th COVID-19 wave

Click to play video: 'Alberta adds more COVID-19 restrictions, resumes contact tracing in schools' Alberta adds more COVID-19 restrictions, resumes contact tracing in schools
Alberta is reducing the number of people allowed at an outdoor gathering from 200 to 20, and is also bringing back contact tracing in schools. Quinn Ohler reports. – Oct 6, 2021

Canadian military nurses will begin work at an Edmonton hospital to help alleviate pressure on a critical care unit overburdened with COVID-19 patients.

The Canadian Armed Forces says eight critical care nursing officers — from Ontario and Nova Scotia — are to begin shifts as early as Wednesday afternoon at the Royal Alexandra Hospital.

Alberta requested assistance from the military last month as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and intensive care admissions spiked.

The military support is to be in place until the end of October.

Click to play video: 'When will military and Red Cross help arrive in Alberta?' When will military and Red Cross help arrive in Alberta?
When will military and Red Cross help arrive in Alberta? – Oct 4, 2021

New measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Alberta also come into effect on Wednesday, including a reduction in the outdoor gathering limit to 20 people from 200 and the resumption of public reporting of schools with at least two known infections.

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Additionally, Albertans 75 and older and First Nations, Inuit and Metis people aged 65 and older can now book a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

Nursing officers with the Canadian Armed Forces go through orientation at Edmonton’s Royal Alexandra Hospital Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021. Supplied, Alberta Health Services

On Tuesday afternoon, Alberta Health said the province had 19,456 active cases of COVID-19, with 663 new cases of the disease identified over the previous 24 hours after about 8,000 tests were done.

There were 1,094 Albertans in hospital with COVID-19, including 252 being treated in ICU. Alberta recorded 26 more COVID-19 deaths.

Read more: Is your Thanksgiving gathering on hold? Why some Alberta experts say they should be

Alberta has a baseline of 173 ICU beds, but hundreds more have been added in recent weeks.

Alberta Health Services said on Tuesday the province had 374 ICU beds, with 307 beds being used. The “vast majority” of ICU admissions are people with COVID-19, AHS said.

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Provincially the ICU capacity is at 82 per cent. Without the 201 surge ICU beds, Alberta’s ICU capacity would be at 177 per cent.

Read more: Alberta doctors invite premier, health minister to visit ICU: ‘We need you to see’

— With files from Emily Mertz, Global News

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