EDITOR’S NOTE: Daily case counts have never been perfect, but at this point in the Omicron-driven wave, it’s a deeply flawed measure. Throughout the pandemic, the number of cases is based on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests done by provincial bodies such as Alberta Health Services, but those test protocols have shifted to prioritize high-priority groups and people in higher-risk institutions, such as health care workers. Thus, there are probably thousands of cases that are untested, or tested, but not reported, as there is no system for cataloging rapid antigen tests at home.
As a result, Nation World News will de-emphasize the number of cases in our coverage in favor of data and measures that experts say are now more enlightening – such as COVID-19 hospitalizations and intensive care unit (ICU) surveys, which help us reduce Omicron’s impact on the healthcare system and the severity of the disease it causes, as well as the test positivity rate, which as it begins to flatten and fall may indicate that the wave has peaked.
- Alberta Education Minister Adriana LaGrange and Dr Deena HinshawAlberta’s chief medical officer for health gave an update on Wednesday.
- LaGrange said Alberta students – kindergarten to grade 12 – will return to classrooms on January 10.
- An initial shipment of extra masks and test kits will arrive at all schools no later than the end of next week, LaGrange said.
- Students in Grades 4 to 9 will have access to free, pre-recorded, online tutor resources from next week to help them catch up on skills and learning they may have missed.
- Later this year, that tuition will be extended to more subjects and will include live tuition.
- School authorities will continue to move classes or grades for short periods to homeschooling to address outbreaks.
The latest COVID-19 numbers:
- Alberta COVID-19 infections are at record heights as the highly contagious Omicron variant spreads throughout the province. The following issues were released on January 7:
- There was 504 people with COVID at the hospital in Alberta Friday. Last week there was 392 COVID-19 patients in the hospital.
- There was 64 people with COVID in intensive care, the same number as the last update.
- Provincial ICU capacity (including additional boom beds) is now at 73 percent. Without the additional training spaces, the provincial ICU capacity would be at 102 percent.
- Alberta Health Statistics show the number of patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19 in the province increased by 43 percent since 29 Dec.
- Alberta could see record COVID-19 hospitalizations within 14 days, according to forecasts from Alberta Health Services’ COVID-19 early warning system.
- Emerging data from other jurisdictions suggest that Omicron may not hit intensive care units as the Delta variant did, but is likely to affect other areas of the healthcare system in emergency and outpatient care.
- Dr Eddy Lang, Head of the Emergency Medicine Department in the Calgary Zone, estimates approx. 10 percent of all hospitalized patients in Calgary zone is positive for Omicron. About half of them are there to be treated for other conditions and happen to test positive. But those patients need to be isolated from others in the hospital, which requires additional resources, time and space.
- Positivity figures:
- That of Alberta positivity rate Friday was 38 percent, much higher than seen in earlier waves.
- On Friday, the province reported two more deaths. A sum total of 3 338 people died of the virus in Alberta.
- Cases count:
- There is official 43,414 active reported cases in the province based on cases confirmed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing by Alberta Health Services – but the true figure is thought to be much higher due to the high positivity figures and changes in testing.
- 348 500 people recovered from COVID-19.
- From December 23, Alberta changed its test protocol, like many provinces, says most people need to switch to home use fast antigen test kits about PCR tests.
- This was in response to the expected increase in cases linked to Omicron, to maintain limited laboratory capacity for PCR testing of high-priority groups and those in higher-risk institutions, such as healthcare professionals.
- People testing positive on quick tests and people who do not have access to fast test kits, but who do have symptomatic is told to isolate and inform close contacts.
- Many doctors appeal to people who use fast antigen test kits wipe their throats as well as their noses to improve their chances of detecting the virus early.
Quick antigen tests:
- Many Albertans have struggled over the past two weeks to get their hands on fast antigen tests, as the government said before the holiday that it would be available for free on a first-come, first-served basis through participating pharmacies and Alberta Health. Services locations.
- Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos confirmed on January 7 that Alberta will receive 16.2 million more tests this month from a pool of $ 140 million newly acquired by Ottawa.
- In addition, Kenney said on January 4 that the province had secured another $ 10 million for Alberta.
- The first priority will be to get them into schools, he said.
- From 3 January, people with at least two doses of vaccine who must test positive for COVID-19 isolate only for five days instead of 10.
- If symptoms persist for the past five days, people who have been fully vaccinated should continue to isolate until you feel better.
- If they are symptom-free after five days, they will must wear a mask to others at all times when they are outside their home.
- The change does not apply to people who have not been fully vaccinated, who should continue to isolate for 10 days or until their symptoms end, whichever is longer.
- Copping said the change followed evidence suggesting that fully immunized people have shorter infectious periods.
- This change also follows the approach followed by Ontario and some other provinces, as well as the latest guidelines of the Disease Control Centers in the United States, Copping said.
- Exceptions will be provided for workplaces where disruption of service for 24 hours or more would be detrimental to the public, and where there is no other way to continue the service except by bringing workers back before their isolation period is over, Copping said.
- In these circumstances, additional public health measures will be required. Copping, for example, said returning workers would not be allowed to remove their masks when they were in the same room as anyone else at any time.
- Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said on January 5 that students would return to schools on January 10.
- Previously, schools’ winter holidays for K-grade 12 pupils were extended until 10 January.
- Due to disruption of learning, January diploma exams will al
so be canceled.
- The delay will also be accompanied by the spread of 8.6 million quick home tests and medical grade masks.
- Day care will remain open.
- Due to disruption of learning, January diploma exams will al
- The Omicron variant has already prompted several post-secondary institutions across the province to return to online learning for the first few weeks of the winter term.
- New public health restrictions in Alberta went into effect on December 24th. These include:
- Places in the Restriction Release Program that seating for more than 1,000 people should be at 50 percent capacity. For venues with a capacity of 500 to 1,000 inhabitants, 500 people is the limit. No food or drink may be eaten in these rooms.
- Restaurants, bars and pubs are to have a maximum table capacity of 10 people. Mixing between tables and interactive activities such as dancing or billiards is not allowed.
- The tightening restrictions came after Kenney released private social gathering restrictions on December 15, delete the rule that only people from two households can get together indoors. He said social gatherings can consist of people from any household, but should not exceed 10 people (people under the age of 18 not included). He also dropped the requirement that everyone attend indoor social gatherings fully vaccinated.
- Alberta has a restrictions exemption program, a voluntary vaccine passport system, in place from September 20 after suffering a catastrophic fourth wave of COVID-19. A complete list of restrictions and exemptions is available on the government’s website.
- As of January 5, Alberta ranked last of all provinces and territories in terms of the percentage of qualifying people (five years and older) who met the Covid19 vaccine, According to CBC’s vaccine tracker.
- 72.6 percent of the province’s total population – or 76.8 percent of qualifying Albertans (ages five years and older) – received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
- 79.1 percent of the province’s total population, and 83.5 percent of those ages five and older, at least received a dose.
- The province said as of January 3, more than one million people have a booster shot. But an additional two million Albertans received their first two doses and are eligible for a booster. Anyone 18 years and older who received their second COVID-19 vaccine at least five months ago is requested to book a booster dose.
- The City of Calgary’s mobile COVID vaccination program continues until at least January 17, and will provide booster shots at various locations around Calgary. It would end on December 31, but the city said Monday it had received additional vaccine supplies from the province.
Which regions are hardest hit:
Here is the latest detailed regional classification of active cases, as reported by the province on 7 January:
- Calgary zone: 20 633.
- Edmonton zone: 16 269.
- Central zone: 2 305.
- North zone: 1 758.
- South zone: 1 732.
- Unknown: 717.
COVID in Alberta in maps and graphs:
Here are the latest Alberta COVID-19 stories: