Active cases in Alberta have dropped by almost half since Jan 1. when there were 14,258 active cases of COVID-19 across the province to Jan. 31 when there were 7,387. There are now 556 people in hospital including 102 in intensive care. Another ten people died of COVID-19, bringing the provincial total to 1,649 dead – 490 since Jan. 1.
Seven people in the Lakeland have died of COVID-19 since Jan. 25. Two each in Lac La Biche and Bonnyville, one in St. Paul, one in Smoky Lake, and one in Vermilion according to the municipality view of the Alberta COVID-19 map.
Overall the number of daily new cases of the virus seems to be trending down since the beginning of January, as are the number of active cases in most Lakeland communities.
In discussion of the re-opening framework released by the province on Friday, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the hospitalization numbers will determine moving forward to the next step, but the number of new cases, positivity rate, and growth rate act “almost as an emergency brake. So if we meet those hospitalization numbers, but all of our leading indicators are escalating in a concerning way, then we would pause our move forward and we may indeed need to move backwards.”
According to Hinshaw, the positivity rate on Jan. 31 was 4.9 per cent, more or less where it has plateaued for the past two weeks, plus or minus a per cent.
Hinshaw said that while the number of tests being conducted across the province has fallen since Christmas, they are still confident in that positivity rate as a metric because it is the proportion of people who choose to get tested which comes back positive so it is still accurate as a reflection of how much virus is circulating in the group of people being tested.
“We have seen for example a dramatic decline in all kinds of respiratory viruses, not just seasonal influenza, but many other kinds of respiratory viruses that are normally circulated at this time of year. We’ve seen a dramatic drop. So it could be that there are fewer people who are symptomatic and therefore fewer going for testing,” said Hinshaw.
She said it’s also possible some of the drop in testing numbers is because of people choosing not to get tested even if they feel a little bit ill, but noted Alberta Health is absolutely still recommending and encouraging anyone who feels sick to get tested.
“If they are a close contact or part of an outbreak, going for testing is the most helpful way for us to track overall trends,” said Hinshaw.