Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw will not say if Alberta is in a sixth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Hinshaw did not directly answer a reporter’s question if Alberta is in the sixth wave of COVID-19. Instead, she said there are many questions the province does not have the answers to.
“What is the magnitude of this rise (in transmissions)? How long will it last? Those are the questions we don’t know the answers to yet,” Hinshaw said.
She also recommended Albertans mask up in public and take extra steps to protect themselves and others as COVID-19 transmissions rise.
“I would encourage people to consider their own risk factors and the risk factors of those around them… To be a part of protecting our communities right now,” she said.
“Our actions impact other people as well.”
Hinshaw also urged Albertans to take precautions if they are thinking of gathering for the Easter weekend. Indoor social gatherings create a higher risk for transmission, she said.
“We know that people gain benefits from spending time with people they care about,” Hinshaw said. “I would recommend people consider who they’re going to be gathering with and consider what precautions are appropriate for those individuals.”
Hinshaw’s response comes after chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam confirmed Canada is in a sixth wave of COVID-19 on Tuesday.
It also comes after Alberta reported an increase in hospitalizations and ICU admissions, something Health Minister Jason Copping said was not unexpected.
As of Wednesday, 1,053 people in hospital have COVID-19. Of those, 48 are in the ICU.
According to provincial data, 37 COVID-19 deaths have been reported since last weeks update. Hinshaw said the province experienced of an average of five deaths per day during the week of April 5 to 11.
Read more: Carrying rapid tests a business decision for Alberta pharmacies: ‘We’re doing it at a loss’
During the same time period, the province recorded 8,191 new lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 from 23,399 tests. The data breaks down as follows:
- April 5: 1,039 cases, 3,867 tests completed
- April 6: 1,014 cases, 3,619 tests completed
- April 7: 929 cases, 3,862 tests completed
- April 8: 945 cases, 3,633 tests completed
- April 9: 822 cases, 3,385 tests completed
- April 10: 590 cases, 2,221 tests completed
- April 11: 842 cases, 2,812 tests completed
Health officials warned the total number of Albertans with COVID-19 is likely far higher than what is being reported due to limitations on who is eligible to receive a PCR test in the province.
Copping said in a statement last Wednesday that while the number of COVID-19-positive patients in hospital remains stable, the Omicron subvariant BA.2 now makes up about 80 per cent of new cases in Alberta.
Read more: County divided: COVID-19 response strains relationships in Alberta’s least-vaccinated region
He urged Albertans to get their booster doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, especially since Alberta’s health-care system is still at capacity.
“The whole system is busy and we’re working to increase capacity across our entire system,” he said at Wednesday’s press conference.
“We’re going to see some increased pressure from BA.2 for a few weeks, but likely not what we saw in December and in January.”
NDP Health Critic David Shepherd criticized Copping’s statement, accusing the UCP of mismanaging public health care. He pointed to Dr. Verna Yu’s departure from Alberta Health Services as an example.
“At a time of severe strain and challenges in frontline care, the UCP’s answer is more chaos and upheaval. This is the wrong direction,” Shepherd said in a statement on Wednesday.
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