There were a total of 112 COVID-19 deaths between Dec. 23 and Dec. 27 in Alberta, bringing the provincial total since the beginning of the pandemic up to 1,002 according to Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw in her update this afternoon.
There are currently 878 people in hospital with COVID-19 in Alberta, including 148 people needing intensive care. According to Hinshaw, we are not currently in a situation where the number of people requiring hospital care for COVID-19 is greater than the capacity of the hospital system.
“We know that it does take several weeks before the trend we’re seeing in cases stabilizing and coming down before we see that start to be reflected in our hospital, and ICU numbers as well as our deaths. And we also know that some individuals are at higher risk of severe outcomes like death or needing hospital care. So, in some parts these numbers depend not just on the total numbers of who’s infected, but also on which specific people are exposed and infected,” said Hinshaw.
According to Hinshaw, there has also been a decline in the number of active cases in the province over the past five days but “it is important to note that part of this decline has been due to less people presenting for testing, which is not surprising over the holidays.”
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According to the provincial website, there are currently 15,487 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta. The federal government’s website however puts that number at 21,521 active cases, a discrepancy of 6,034.
Asked to explain the discrepancy, Hinshaw said the difference is likely the result of formal reporting having been paused over the past four days and that she expected it would be resolved with today’s update.
“But we will definitely look in to it and make sure that we’re connecting and providing them with that accurate information from today,” said Hinshaw.
According to Hinshaw, the positivity rate has ranged from a low of 6.4 per cent to a high of 9.6 per cent over the past five days.
“Let’s finish the year strong by following both the details and the spirit of the public health orders that are in place and resist the urge to gather with anyone outside our household, or two close contacts for those who live alone,” said Hinshaw.
Hinshaw also took questions on the new variants of COVID-19 which have appeared in the United Kingdom and in South Africa. She said there has been one person identified with that variant in Alberta, but they followed all of the required quarantine regulations and at this time provincial health officials do not believe the variant has spread.
According to Hinshaw, “there is some evidence this variant may be more infectious than other strains of the virus.”
She said the province is working with the federal government to get a list of everyone who has arrived in Alberta from either the U.K. or South Africa in the past two weeks.
“Alberta Health Services will be calling all of those individuals to offer them a test,” said Hinshaw, noting they are also not allowing arrivals from those two countries to participate in the border pilot program at this time.
She noted that both Pfizer and Moderna are undertaking work to determine how effective their vaccines will be against the variant.
“There’s no current evidence that the vaccine would be rendered less effective by this particular change in the viruses surface proteins,” said Hinshaw.
Locally according to the regional status map, the M.D. of Bonnyville has 73 active cases, the City of Cold Lake has 58 active cases, The County of St. Paul has 52 active cases, Smoky Lake County has 47 active cases, County of Vermilion River has 25 active cases, Lac La Biche County has 19 active cases, and County of Two Hills has 9 active cases.