Alberta not in ‘second wave’ of pandemic, top doctor says

Alberta is not in the long-dreaded second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, and may not see a huge spike in cases now the autumn has begun, the province’s top doctor says.

That’s in stark contrast to the warning issued by the prime minister on Wednesday.

Albertans who tuned in to Justin Trudeau’s televised address were told Alberta, B.C., Ontario and Quebec are already experiencing the second wave of the pandemic. Trudeau told Canadians they can control the second wave if they continue to wear masks, limit social interactions and follow other public health guidelines.

But the province’s chief medical officer of health says despite increased daily case numbers in recent weeks, Alberta is not already into the second wave.

“The concept of a second wave implies that we don’t have any control or influence over the circulation of the virus,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said during her Thursday news conference. “And I think that certainly there are some provinces who have themselves determined that they are beginning what they are calling a second wave.

“But in Alberta I don’t think that’s where we are at right now.”

WATCH | Hinshaw says Alberta is not in a second wave:

Despite increased daily case numbers in recent weeks Alberta is not already into the second wave, says Dr. Deena Hinshaw. 1:21

Daily case counts increasing

The province has seen increased daily case counts but they have remained relatively stable, she said.

“When I think about a second wave, I think about a very large spike of uncontrolled spread, and that’s not our only possible future. Our other possible futures are a stable, relatively slow burn of a constant case count over time, or perhaps small ripples that go up and down.”

Like the prime minister, Hinshaw said the future is up to Albertans.

“Whether or not we have a steep, sharp second wave is entirely within our hands, and we can prevent that without any additional formal restrictions,” she said. 

Since the province moved into the second phase of relaunch in June, an online map has highlighted areas that are under COVID-19 watch, and so far not one area has seen enough spread to shift into the “enhanced” category, Hinshaw said.

If that were to happen, the province could impose additional measures to prevent spread in that area, Hinshaw said.

Latest numbers

Alberta added one more COVID-19 death on Thursday and reported 158 new cases. There were 1,462 active cases in the province, down 58 from the day before.

The most recent death was a man in his 80s from the Calgary Zone.

The regional breakdown of active cases was:

  • Edmonton zone: 773, down 48 from the day before.
  • Calgary zone: 495, up 14 from the day before.
  • North zone: 130, down 25 from the day before.
  • South zone: 40, up two from the day before.
  • Central zone: 19, down one from the day before.
  • Unknown: five, unchanged from the day before.

A total of 58 people were being treated in Alberta hospitals for the illness, including 14 in intensive care.

There are outbreaks in 32 schools, with 163 active cases in total, she said, which represents about four per cent of schools in the province. Four schools have five or more cases.

“Although two confirmed cases in a school may qualify as an outbreak, it is not a sign that a school is unsafe,” Hinshaw said. 

Since school started on Sept. 1, Alberta has seen a week-over-week decrease, from 205 to 183 to 122 cases per week, among school-aged children.

“This is despite a significant increase in testing, with over 11,000, 18,000 and 14,000 children tested in these three weeks, respectively,” Hinshaw said.

“I want to highlight these numbers not to minimize the importance of school safety, but rather to stress once again the importance of limiting community transmission to make school re-entry successful.”

Counts higher than in summer

A look at the Alberta data shows the number of new daily cases has been higher in September than it was throughout much of the summer.

Over the past two weeks, Alberta has added 2,154 new cases, an average of 154 each day. During that time period, laboratories completed 179,231 tests, an average of 12,802 each day.

Here are the numbers for the past two weeks.

  • Wednesday, Sept. 23, 158 new cases, 12,317 tests completed.
  • Tuesday, Sept. 22: 143 new cases, 12,317 tests completed.
  • Monday, Sept. 21: 150 new cases, 14,267 tests completed.
  • Sunday, Sept. 20: 137 new cases, 12,760 tests completed.
  • Saturday, Sept. 19: 102 new cases, 9,748 tests completed.
  • Friday, Sept. 18: 119 new cases, 12,451 tests completed.
  • Thursday, Sept. 17: 107 new cases, 11,316 tests completed.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 16: 145 new cases, 13,011 tests completed.
  • Tuesday, Sept. 15: 180 new cases, 12,546 tests completed.
  • Monday, Sept. 14: 124 new cases, 12,989 tests completed.
  • Sunday, Sept. 13: 142 new cases, 14,454 tests completed.
  • Saturday, Sept. 12: 171 new cases, 18,919 tests completed.
  • Friday, Sept. 11: 117 new cases, 12,759 tests completed.
  • Thursday, Sept. 10: 111 new cases, 11,981 tests completed.

During the two weeks in late April and early May when new daily cases were peaking, Alberta added 3,181 cases, an average of 227 each day.

During that time period, laboratories completed 59,298 tests, an average of 4,235 each day.

Here are the numbers for that two-week period.

  • May 1: 136 new cases, 2,847 tests completed.
  • April 30: 228 new cases, 5,035 tests completed.
  • April 29: 237 new cases, 5,077 tests completed.
  • April 28: 261 new cases, 4,363 tests completed.
  • April 27: 154 new cases, 3,445 tests completed.
  • April 26: 216 new cases, 4,302 tests completed.
  • April 25: 247 new cases, 4,664 tests completed.
  • April 24: 206 new cases, 4,532 tests completed.
  • April 23: 297 new cases, 4,471 tests completed.
  • April 22: 319 new cases, 4,057 tests completed.
  • April 21: 306 new cases, 4,314 tests completed.
  • April 20: 189 new cases, 4,017 tests completed.
  • April 19: 198 new cases, 4,373 tests completed.
  • April 18: 187 new cases, 3,801 tests completed.

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