COVID-19 Updates: Protecting Albertans from the Omicron variant.
Thank you, Minister. And good afternoon.
I am pleased to report today that 6,862 Albertans have recovered from COVID-19, leaving 440 active cases in the province.
Currently, 31 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, with seven of these in ICUs.
In the last 24 hours, we unfortunately have confirmed one additional death COVID-19 in the province.
This brings the total number of lives lost to 151.
My condolences go out to the family and friends of this individual, and all those who have lost loved ones during this time.
We have now completed more than 343,000 tests. Out of 3,462 new tests completed, there were 20 new cases.
I know some people are wondering when we will stop identifying new cases. The reality is that, the more you test, the more cases you’re likely to find.
It is a good thing to find cases, and Alberta continues to test more broadly than any jurisdiction in Canada.
We are responding swiftly every time a new case is identified.
I want to recognize the many public health professionals who continue to work around the clock to support our COVID-19 response.
This weekend as we began stage two, I also appreciate the efforts of Albertans who were conscientious in respecting gathering limits, maintaining a two-metre distance…
…wearing masks when you couldn’t, practicing good hygiene, and staying home if you were feeling sick.
I know that many people were excited to visit restaurants, get their nails done, attend fitness classes or sports, and participate in worship services.
And many businesses were relieved to be able to safely resume operations.
As Albertans go out more, while our collective efforts can and will reduce spread of infection, we can also expect to see some increase in cases around Alberta.
To help prevent local outbreaks and help you make informed decisions, you can view a relaunch map to see where active case rates are at in different municipalities in the province.
If a local municipal district has 50 active cases per 100,000 population, with at least 10 active cases, we move it into the “watch” category.
This simply means that Public Health will work with local public health and municipal officials to see if we need to implement additional measures to prevent spread.
As of today, there are two municipal districts in this category.
But no additional measures are needed at this time in either of these districts. We do continue to monitor the situation closely.
It is important to remember that this threshold of 50 active cases per 100,000 population is simply one point on a spectrum of local risk.
While this metric helps provide transparency to the process of determining any need for extra local measures, in areas below that threshold we still need to continue our precautions.
In Edmonton, for example, we have seen an increase in active cases over the past two weeks.
We now have 167 active cases in this city, which is approaching the level of Calgary’s 194 active cases.
We must remain watchful in protecting each other.
Our health system is still prepared, and our rates of hospitalization and ICU admissions for COVID-19 remain well within our capacity in Alberta.
In our Edmonton cases, two thirds of these active cases are linked to having close contact with a case of COVID-19 or being part of an outbreak.
One third of the active cases remain under investigation.
What we know from the patterns we are seeing in the transmission is that social events where people are not keeping 2 metres distant or wearing masks are high risk activities.
We are not seeing patterns of spread at this point linked to casual contact or public places.
I want to reiterate that the people who are part of this active case number list are doing the right thing by being tested and staying at home to stop further spread.
The success of our relaunch is anchored in all of us doing our part, and the measures in place will get us there.
The actions each one of us takes every day will help protect our friends, our families and our neighbours, especially those most at-risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19.
No event, community or region of the province is immune from the virus. That is why it is critical that each one of us takes pride in what we can do every day to protect those around us.
I encourage you to go for testing.
Testing broadly helps us understand where we have cases and if we need to take additional measures in a regional area, or make changes to our relaunch strategy.
Booking a test is easily done online at the AHS website. If you have a disability that might make it difficult to go for testing, please call 811 to find out more about other options to access testing.
From our weekly report on asymptomatic testing in the province, I can tell you that an additional 11,341 asymptomatic people who had no known COVID-19 exposure were tested last week as a part of our broad population monitoring goal.
We identified 4 additional COVID cases in this group.
I want to thank all those who have participated in this testing, and encourage more people to go for testing this week.
Testing broadly helps us understand where COVID may be circulating in the province.
While testing is open to all Albertans, it is particularly important that anyone with symptoms or who has a known exposure to COVID-19 go for a test.
In the past week, we have done 300 tests on asymptomatic close contacts of confirmed cases, with 41 new cases identified in that group.
This highlights why it is so critical that close contacts of cases stay in self-isolation for 14 days even if they are feeling well.
It also underscores why we ask close contacts and anyone in an outbreak setting to be tested promptly as a part of our outbreak control measures.
Unfortunately, even with all these efforts, although many sectors are opening back up, there are still many Albertans who are unable to resume activities similar to how they operated pre-COVID-19.
I encourage Albertans to continue to look for other ways they can support friends and family who are at a higher risk of severe outcomes if they should contract the virus.
We are all hardwired for social connection and need this connection to stay healthy – let’s keep thinking of all the ways we can connect while we also prevent transmission.
For example, one inspiring post from the Alberta Cares hashtag this past weekend highlighted volunteers who delivered what they called Positivity Pots…
…10 uniquely decorated flower pots filled with various flowering plants to brighten residents’ rooms at the Bethany Care Society continuing care facility in Airdrie.
This is just one example of how we can show our loved ones how much we care for them.
We are getting through this together, and we must continue to protect and support each other in the days ahead.
This is a marathon, and we are not yet near the end, so let’s pace ourselves, encourage each other, and cheer each other on with face masks in place.
Thank you and we will be happy to take questions.