Checked against delivery.
Thank you, Minister, and good afternoon, everyone.
Between Tuesday, May 17th and Monday, May 23rd, our PCR test positivity rate ranged from 13.7 to 20.4 per cent with an average of 17.5 per cent for the week.
As Minister Copping mentioned earlier, the number of people in hospital with COVID-19 has decreased from last week.
Currently, there are 1,040 people with COVID in hospital, including 31 in the ICU.
Sadly, between May 17th and May 23rd, 55 deaths related to COVID-19 were reported to Alberta Health, an average of about 8 per day.
It is always incredibly difficult to lose someone, no matter the cause. My condolences go out to all those who are grieving the loss of loved ones.
Losses like these that remind us that COVID is not yet behind us, and it can continue to pose a risk to anyone.
It will continue to evolve. Two emerging subvariants of Omicron have been receiving attention internationally: BA.4 and BA.5.
Both of these have been identified in several other countries around the world.
Available evidence suggests these subvariants are more transmissible than earlier versions, which means they can spread more easily once they are in a community.
That said, at this time, neither of these subvariants appear to cause an increased risk of severe illness.
We identified our first case of BA.4 this past week through our ongoing surveillance.
The appearance of new variants and subvariants is not surprising – this is what viruses do.
As we continue to live with COVID, we can expect to see subvariants and variants emerge.
It is important for us to continue to monitor the virus for new or dramatically different behaviours and we will continue to do so.
The tools that have long served us well will continue to help reduce our risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19, and limit community transmission.
Ensuring you’re vaccinated with all of your eligible doses can help protect you against severe outcomes from the disease.
It can also reduce the risk of experiencing long COVID after an infection.
As we go about our daily activities, we must remain mindful.
We can each take some simple steps to protect our families, ourselves, and our communities.
Everything we’ve learned to do since COVID came into our lives – such as masking in places like acute care and continuing care settings, and staying home and away from others when sick – will help protect those who are most at-risk and limit any possible spread.
Thank you, and we’re happy to take questions.