Monday , 17 January 2022
Dr. Deena Hinshaw.

New cases need to decline “soon” or more restrictions needed

Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says if new cases don’t start to decline soon more restrictions will be needed.

Hinshaw reported 52 per cent of active cases in Alberta are now variants of the virus and hospitalizations are continuing to increase.

“If we do not see growth slowing soon further measures may be required,” said Hinshaw.

In response to a request to define “soon” Hinshaw said the province can not wait three weeks for the hospitalizations to climb as a result of today’s high case numbers.

“We’re watching within the coming week to 10 days about what those cases look like, and consider if our trajectory continues on a steep upward climb, whether those additional measures will be needed,” said Hinshaw.

She said she understands people want predictability and to be able to plan, but at this point the way to control COVID-19 is for all Albertans to follow the public health measures in place and limit their in-person interactions as much as possible.

“Until vaccines are in the majority of Albertans arms, all that we have to protect our health system is these public health measures. … We depend on each other to take these measures so that we continue to have the capacity to care for people with heart attacks, strokes, car crashes, and other things that happen every day, and we need to keep health system capacity open for that by limiting the spread of COVID-19,” said Hinshaw.

Locally, there are 13 active cases in Lac La Biche, one in Lac La Biche County, 45 in Bonnyville, 17 in Cold Lake, 11 in St. Paul, three in Smoky Lake, two in Two Hills, and 88 in Vermilion as of the end of day April 12.

An additional 17,665 doses of vaccine were administered on April 12. Hinshaw said it’s important to remember that while the first dose gives a significant boost to immunity it does take several weeks for the body to develop the antibodies needed to fight COVID-19. She encouraged everyone to continue trying to book their appointment to receive a vaccine.

“If you’ve tried, and the pharmacy or clinic near you was full, please try again. We are making more appointments available as more vaccines arrive,” said Hinshaw.

“Until everyone has had a chance to receive vaccine we cannot dismantle the existing barrier of our collective actions to prevent spread,” she said.

Flu season ends without a single flu case

One bright side in the unending year of COVID is that the traditional flu season has ended without a single reported case of influenza-A or influenza-B in the province of Alberta and drastically lower flu activity around the world.

In the COVID-19 briefing on April 13, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said more than 122,000 respiratory swabs were tested for flu this season compared to less than 47,000 swabs last year.

“We know that public health restrictions currently in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as enhance hygiene and physical distancing have had an impact and provided protection against the spread of influenza. This is a reminder of the power of our collective action through effective immunization and practicing good hygiene physical distancing and staying home when sick. We have prevented the spread of influenza and other respiratory illnesses,” said Hinshaw.

She said this was also a record setting year in terms of the number of people who chose to be immunized against influenza. More than 1.6 million doses of the flu vaccine were administered, marking the highest uptake of the vaccine in more than a decade.

About Meredith Kerr

Meredith Kerr moved to St. Paul for a career in journalism and morning radio in 2014 expecting to stay for six months to a year. Since then, she has put down roots in the form of a husband, a mortgage, two babies, and a poorly behaved dog. She continues to work as a reporter until such time as she finishes her book and becomes fabulously wealthy from the royalties. Meredith also serves as a member at large on the St. Paul Library Board and volunteers as a Beaver leader for the 1st St. Paul Scout Group.