COVID-19 Updates: Protecting Albertans from the Omicron variant.
Alberta is taking action to protect Albertans against the highly transmissible Omicron variant by ramping up health system capacity, providing free rapid test kits, expanding vaccine boosters, and clarifying gathering limits.
Albertans are asked to reduce their number of contacts by half, limit unrestricted activities where there is a high risk of transmission, and observe all public health measures.
Businesses participating in the Restrictions Exemption Program will require patrons 12 and older to show proof of vaccination or negative test result. New measures came into effect Dec. 24.
COVID-19 resources are available in عربي, 中文, हिंदी, 한국어, فارسی, ਪੰਜਾਬੀ, Af-Soomaali, Español, Français, Tagalog, Tiếng Việt and اردو on alberta.ca/CovidTranslated.
Cases in Alberta
- 459,497 Total cases
- 3,837 Cases on January 18
- 388,550 Recovered cases
- 3,413 Deaths
- 67,534 Active cases*
- 1,101 In hospital
- 108 In intensive care**
- 6,649,004 Total tests completed
- 10,005 Tests on January 18
- 6,649,004 People tested
- 8,109,452 Vaccine doses as of January 18
Updated January 19. Numbers are current as of end-of-day January 18. Case numbers are updated daily Monday to Friday.
*Active cases include both community cases and hospitalizations. **ICU cases are a subset of those in hospital.
Get vaccinated to prevent COVID-19
- COVID-19 vaccines are safe and help prevent you from getting infected and protect you from getting severely sick if you do get it.
- Albertans 5 and older can get vaccinated now.
- Albertans 18 and older can get a third dose 5 months after their second dose to boost immunity.
- Working Albertans can access 3 hours of paid, job-protected leave to get each dose of the vaccine.
Get vaccinated to prevent Influenza
Why get an influenza vaccine
An influenza vaccine (flu shot) won’t prevent COVID-19 but it will reduce your chances of getting sick with influenza (flu) or spreading it to others.
All Albertans 6 months and older are encouraged to get an influenza vaccine. It’s especially important for seniors, pregnant women, Indigenous people and people with chronic health conditions as they have a higher risk of severe complications.
By keeping influenza counts low, we can:
- help prevent people from being infected with COVID-19 and influenza at the same time
- make sure our health-care system has capacity to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic
- let health-care workers focus on treating people with other illnesses and injuries
- reduce outbreaks in care facilities
The vaccine is available free of charge starting October 18.
Where to get an influenza vaccine
- Alberta Health Services (AHS) public health clinics/sites for individuals 6 months to 4 years (and their families).
- Some doctors’ offices for individuals 6 months old and older.
- Participating pharmacies if 5 years old or older.
How to book an appointment
- Book an influenza vaccine appointment online.
- Phone Health Link at 811 for help booking multiple appointments for children and family members.
- Check if your community pharmacy is offering drop-in appointments.
- Phone your physician’s office to see if they’re offering influenza vaccine appointments.
How to get vaccinated safely
- Stay home if you have symptoms of COVID-19, isolate and complete the AHS online assessment.
- Follow safety protocols: wear a mask, wash your hands, stay 2 metres apart when possible.
- Make an appointment at your pharmacy, physician clinic or public health site and arrive as close to the appointment time as you can.
- Fill out forms online when possible.
Staff and volunteers at clinics and venues offering influenza vaccination must follow their employer’s policies for COVID-19 screening.
Practice good hygiene
In addition to getting vaccinated, practicing good hygiene habits can protect you and those around you from spreading COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses.
- Stay home if you are feeling sick.
- Wash or sanitize your hands often.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes.
- Avoid touching your face.
Mandatory restriction - Updated December 17
Indoor social gatherings
- Indoor private social gatherings are limited to a maximum of 10 people 18 and older.
- There are no limits on people 17 and under if accompanied by their parent or guardian. It attending the gathering by themselves, they will count towards the maximum limit of 10 people.
Outdoor social gatherings
- Outdoor private social gatherings limited to a maximum of 200 people, with 2 metre physical distancing at all times.
Monitor your symptoms
COVID-19 symptoms are similar to influenza and other respiratory illnesses and can range from mild to severe. Even people with mild symptoms can spread COVID-19 to others.
If you have any symptom, stay home and take the online assessment to arrange testing.
Isolate if required
Isolation and quarantine requirements are in place for individuals with COVID-19 symptoms.
How it spreads
COVID-19 is transmitted though tiny droplets of liquid produced by people who have the virus. The virus spreads by:
- breathing in air that contains infected droplets from people coughing, sneezing, talking, laughing, and singing
- touching objects or surfaces the virus has landed on and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth (bath towels, kitchen utensils, door knobs, etc.)
People who have COVID-19 can spread it to others before they start to feel sick.
COVID-19 does not appear to regularly transmit like measles through long-range transmission, but there are circumstances that raise the risk of aerosol transmission, such as crowded or poorly ventilated indoor spaces where people are engaging in activities like singing or high intensity exercise. Individuals and businesses should apply mitigation strategies where these risks exist.
We think the virus generally only survives for a few hours on a surface or object, but it may be possible for it to survive several days under some conditions.
Variants of concern
Variants of concern spread more easily than the original COVID-19 strain, which could result in more severe illness, hospitalizations and deaths.
Alberta is monitoring for variants of concern. The B.1.1.529 (Omicron) variant is the dominant strain in our province.
Symptoms in variant cases are so far reported to be the same as the original virus, including cough, fever, shortness of breath, runny nose, and sore throat.
Restrictions Exemption Program Implementation Grant
A one-time payment of $2,000 to eligible Alberta small and medium-sized businesses, cooperatives and non-profit organizations is now available for those participating in the Restrictions Exemption Program.
Learn more about the Restrictions Exemption Program Implementation Grant.
Restrictions Exemption Program safety training
Online training is available at no cost to employers and their employees to help them assess and manage challenging situations that may arise during their daily operations.
The training includes information that workers need to keep themselves and customers safe while implementing COVID-19 safety requirements, such requesting proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test, physical distancing or masking.
Employers must enroll for the training on behalf of their employees. After enrolling, employers will receive an access code via email to share with their employees.
Paid vaccination leave
All working Albertans can access 3 hours of paid, job-protected leave to get each dose of the vaccine.
Individuals and families
Financial support programs are available to help people experiencing unemployment and those who cannot work because they are sick, need to isolate, or are caring for someone in isolation.
Businesses and self-employed people may be able to access federal supports to help with COVID-19-related challenges. For the latest information on federal programs, see the Government of Canada’s resources below.
Mental health and addiction
The COVID-19 pandemic can have a significant impact on mental health.
Online resources are available if you need advice on handling stressful situations or ways to talk to children.
- Help in Tough Times (AHS)
- Mental health and coping with COVID-19 (CDC)
- Talking with children about COVID-19 (CDC)
- COVID-19 information for young kids and students (PDF, 122 KB)
If you need to talk, call the 24-hour help lines:
Family and sexual violence
If you or someone you know is at risk of family or sexual violence, help is available.
- Call our 24-hour Family Violence Info Line at 310-1818 to get anonymous help in over 170 languages.
Chat live online with the Family Violence Info Line for support in English (8 am to 8 pm)
- Alberta’s One Line for Sexual Violence can provide assistance in finding sexual assault support services (9 am to 9 pm daily):
Child neglect and abuse
Info for organizations and vulnerable Albertans
Nearly one million Albertans act as caregivers for loved ones experiencing challenges related to illness, disability or aging. These caregivers need support too.
Pregnant people have a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 than for those who are not pregnant.
Infected pregnant people may also have a higher risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm birth, compared to those who are pregnant without COVID-19.
Because of this, pregnant people are encouraged to get the COVID-19 vaccine. There is no evidence vaccines are harmful when pregnant or breastfeeding.
COVID Care Teams
We are working with the cities of Calgary and Edmonton to access local agencies and organizations to provide on-the-ground support to communities experiencing a high number of cases of COVID-19, compared to other areas across the province.
Residents in these communities may face barriers that could contribute to increased rates of COVID-19 transmission:
- employment in public-facing, higher risk jobs – for example, front-line health care, maintenance, transportation
- live in higher density, multi-family or multi-generational homes
- are a newcomer to Alberta and may not have supports in place
- have English language barriers
- earn a lower than average income
To help address these barriers, COVID Care Teams will:
- distribute care packages with masks, sanitizers and translated resources
- refer people to 811 for additional information in multiple languages
- inform residents of the nearest COVID-19 assessment and testing centres
- connect people to transportation to COVID-19 testing facilities, if needed
- Immunocompromised Albertans eligible for fourth dose (January 18)
- More than 8M vaccine doses administered (January 14)
- Changes to COVID-19 testing eligibility (January 10)
- Alberta surpasses one million booster doses (January 6)
- Students returning to in-person learning Jan. 10 (January 5)
- Temporary testing options given to health-care workers (December 23)
- More boosters, tests and measures to fight Omicron (December 21)
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