Check against delivery.
Thank you, Chris, and good afternoon everyone.
Before I get to today’s numbers, I want to remind Albertans about a change to the Restrictions Exemption Program that came into effect yesterday. Albertans’ vaccine record must now include the QR code in order to enter any business or venue taking part in the program.
This means Alberta vaccination records without a QR code, including paper immunization records received at your vaccination appointment, will no longer be accepted. The only exception to this is First Nations and military vaccination records, which will continue to be accepted.
You can visit alberta.ca/CovidRecords to get your QR code and either save it to your phone or download it and print it off.
You can also visit a participating registry office where they will print it off for you for free or you can call 811 to have your QR code mailed to you.
Turning to today’s numbers, over the last 24 hours, we identified 321 new cases of COVID-19, and completed about 6,425 tests.
Our positivity rate was about 5.1%.
There are currently active alerts or outbreaks in 201 schools.
10 of these schools have had 10 or more cases infectious in the school within the last 14 days.
There are currently 518 people being treated for COVID-19 in hospital, including 101 in the ICU.
Sadly, I must announce that 13 new deaths have been reported to Alberta Health in the last 24 hours.
My deepest sympathies are with the family and friends of these individuals as they mourn the loss of a loved one, and to anyone grieving a loss, no matter the cause.
Each death is a painful reminder about the seriousness of this virus and the need to keep protecting each other – and our health-care system – from it.
While over the past few weeks, we have begun to come down the other side of the fourth wave, we have seen before how fast things can change.
I would like to remind Albertans that we must stay vigilant – especially as temperatures drop and we head into winter.
This is important for two reasons – first, during wintertime, more activities move indoors where the risk of COVID-19 transmission increases.
Second, it’s now influenza season, which means we can expect a rise in the number of Albertans with respiratory symptoms and other illnesses, including seasonal influenza.
Last year, we had our strongest influenza vaccine campaign with more than 1.1 million Albertans receiving their flu shot.
Unfortunately, so far this year, uptake has been slower. At this point, about 20% of Albertans have been immunized against influenza, with more than 916,000 doses of influenza vaccine administered across the province.
The good news is that there is still plenty of time to add getting the flu shot to our to-do lists.
It is a free and easy way to protect your health, and it’s more important now than ever.
The flu shot won’t prevent COVID-19, but it will reduce your chances of getting sick with influenza and spreading it to others.
While the flu is not as severe as COVID-19, it can be very serious for the very young and the very elderly, and it can put additional pressure on our health-care system.
To date, we have seen 3 confirmed cases of seasonal influenza. Fortunately, there have been no severe outcomes reported.
Influenza data is now reported online at Alberta.ca, including the number of cases and severe outcomes due to influenza. And as we know, both COVID-19 and seasonal influenza can have very similar symptoms.
By reducing your likelihood of influenza, you are reducing your likelihood of having any symptoms that may cause you to need to stay home or go for COVID-19 testing.
You are also reducing the chance of spreading the virus to your loved ones, causing them to have to stay home and go for testing, or perhaps having serious outcomes.
Our actions and decisions have an impact on those around us, and I encourage everyone to do their part and get a flu shot.
Appointments are available through the online Alberta Vaccine Booking System, by contacting your local pharmacy or by calling 811.
If you still need to get a COVID-19 vaccine dose, you can even get this vaccine at the same time as your flu shot.
We also know the simple, everyday things we can do – like wearing masks, staying home when sick, practicing good hand hygiene and limiting the number of in-person interactions we have. These help limit the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses.
Lastly, I would like to remind anyone who is eligible for third Covid-19 vaccine doses about the importance of waiting at least 6 months between your second shot and your third.
While it may be tempting to get a booster as soon as possible, it’s important to remember that vaccine protection is not just for now but for the future as well, and we want that protection to last as long as possible.
The available evidence shows that overall protection from the vaccine is best when a COVID booster is administered at least 6 months after the previous dose.
By waiting the appropriate amount of time, you will receive greater protection from the vaccine.
For those who are not currently eligible for third doses, please know that we are monitoring the evidence closely and will keep you informed of any changes.
To all Albertans, thank you for staying the course and continuing to do your part for your family, friends and community.
Thank you and I’m happy to take questions.