COVID-19: Alberta sees 73 additional hospitalizations, 40 in Edmonton

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The number of hospitalizations from COVID-19 is on the rise in Alberta, with the Edmonton area showing most of the latest increase.

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On Tuesday, Alberta reported 708 hospitalized patients with the disease — 73 more than the day before, and 40 of them were identified in the Edmonton zone.

There are 237 COVID-19 patients in hospitals in the Edmonton zone and 287 in the Calgary zone, where 25 new hospitalizations have been made as of Monday.

Of those hospitalized with the disease, Alberta identified 80 in intensive care, eight more than reported yesterday, while eight more people infected with COVID-19 died in Alberta, bringing the province’s death toll to 3,352 .

The province also identified 4,704 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the number of active cases to 58,613. The number of new cases reported Tuesday is lower than what Alberta has seen in recent days, but the province has recently made changes to the eligibility of PCR testing.

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At a press conference on Monday, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, that PCR testing will be limited to those at risk for serious consequences if infected, as well as eligible Albertans who live and work in high-risk environments. — such as health professionals and those working in permanent care facilities, shelters and correctional facilities — or meet other qualification criteria.

The highly transmissible Omicron variant that causes COVID-19 and is spreading throughout Alberta has increased demand for PCR testing beyond the province’s capacity, Hinshaw said Monday, adding that people with symptoms should have five days isolate when fully vaccinated or until symptoms disappear, which takes longer and longer. According to provincial isolation and quarantine requirements, those who are not fully vaccinated must follow the same rules, but for 10 days instead of five.

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On Dec. 23, Hinshaw advised Albertans to reserve PCR testing for high-risk cases, as well as those unable to obtain a rapid test. But under the new rules, a person will no longer be eligible for a PCR test if it is not possible to obtain rapid tests, even though rapid tests have been hard to come by in Alberta lately.

“You can do a quick test if you have one, but for most people with mild illness, a test isn’t necessary and symptoms can be treated at home,” Hinshaw said Monday.

As of Monday, Alberta has administered more than 7.9 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, with 79.7 percent of the population receiving at least one dose and 73.2 percent receiving two doses.

Hinshaw also said that on Jan. 3, more than a million Albertans rolled up their sleeves for booster shots.

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“That’s more than a million people committed to helping each other and reaching the other side of this pandemic,” she said. “I am encouraged to see so many Albertans doing the right thing.”

Hinshaw also said booster shots are a critical part of the county’s efforts to prevent hospitals and intensive care units from being flooded with new cases of COVID-19, especially with the rapid increase in cases caused by the Omicron variant.

“Even if only one percent of cases are in hospital, that’s still a huge burden on our health care system,” Hinshaw added. “That kind of wave has the potential to overwhelm our healthcare facilities, not to mention the caregivers who have been working tirelessly and non-stop for nearly two years.”

hissawi@postmedia.com

@hamdiissawi

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