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Alberta’s probable COVID-19 scenario could see between 300-4,100 deaths: Premier

Alberta’s COVID-19 measures could be in place until the end of May and almost a million Albertans could be infected with the virus.

Premier Jason Kenney detailed the province’s modelling of COVID-19 on Wednesday with a probable scenario and an elevated “less likely” scenario.

In the probable scenario, between 300-4,100 deaths could occur with up to 800,000 infections and a peak in mid-May.

In the elevated scenario, between 500-6,600 deaths and over a million infections could happen in Alberta and a peak in early May.

Kenney said those figures of the total number of infections drill down into the total spread of the virus, and not represent the number of confirmed positive cases.

“The vast majority of people who get this virus will experience mild symptoms and many of them will experience no symptoms at all,” said Kenney is an address on Wednesday.

“So when we talk about a total viral spread of infections of 800,000 over the course of these three months, we’re talking about everyone that’s been infected, including people who are not aware of it, are asymptomatic, and had mild symptoms and did not go to the hospital.”

The extreme scenario in red is the province’s projection of COVID-19 spread if Alberta put no restrictive measures in place in March. Image credit: Alberta Government.

As part of the province’s relaunch strategy, they hope to do 20,000 tests per day.

In the probable scenario, the peak of hospitalizations in late May and early June, they would need at least 230 ICU beds with ventilators, and at least 800 acute care hospital beds available at the same time.

In the elevated scenario, the province would need 1600 acute care beds available in early May and around 400 ICU beds and ventilators.

Without any provincial interventions to manage the pandemic response, projections show that about 13,000 Albertans could have been hospitalized with 3,900 requiring intensive care.

AHS plans to have 2,250 acute care beds by the end of April – beds set aside for the projected peak of hospitalizations.

As of April 3, 1,935 of these beds were available for COVID-19 patients by postponing scheduled elective surgeries.

Kenney said there are contingency plans to open up more spaces if the spread were to get much worse.

Image credit: Alberta Government.

AHS plans to be able to increase ICU capacity by 1081 beds for COVID-19 patients and 761 ventilators available by the end of April, if necessary.

Kenney said the province could lend some of these supplies if they were assured they were not needed in Alberta at the peak.

Alberta will accelerate training for ICU nurses, put forward new models of care to expand the reach of existing ICU nurses, work with the faculties of nursing to complete senior practicums to enable the nurses to enter the workforce, and contact former RNs with ICU experience and other recently retired staff to ensure there’s an adequate workforce to handle the pandemic.

Kenney believes health care workers will have enough PPE during this pandemic and are going to add more equipment.

He commended Alberta Health Services for the stockpiling of supplies.

Further testing measures

Chief medical officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw said it’s in Albertans’ hands how far the virus spreads.

She said the province’s daily testing numbers are still lower than the labs have the capacity to test.

They are looking at their data on how to effectively use their testing capacity.

Testing has been expanded immediately to include all residents of the Calgary Zone who have a cough, fever, runny nose, sore throat or shortness of breath.

Also, testing is now open to essential workers across the province with any of the same symptoms, anyone’s worksite that has not been shut down.

Anyone with those symptoms and lives with someone 65 or older is also eligible for testing.

Anyone in these categories should use the AHS online assessment tool to access testing. That is the pathway to booking a test, said Dr. Hinshaw.

They do not need to also call 811, said Dr. Hinshaw.

“Please stay home as much as possible,” she said.

On Wednesday, there were 50 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and three more deaths for a total of 29.

There are 1,423 total confirmed cases of the virus in Alberta.

Recoveries are up by 72, for a total of 519 people with resolved symptoms.

The full presentation of Alberta’s COVID-19 modelling.

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