Alberta adds 323 COVID-19 cases, Dr. Hinshaw ‘concerned’ about hospitalizations

EDMONTON — Active cases of COVID-19 saw another increase Tuesday after Alberta’s top doctor reported 323 new cases of the disease.

There are now 3,203 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Alberta, with 1,607 in the Edmonton zone and 1,043 in the Calgary zone.

Alberta Health also reported one more death as a result of COVID-19 in a man in his 70s linked to the outbreak at Edmonton’s Terra Losa Lifestyle Options retirement home.

Eight per cent of schools across the province have been affected by the coronavirus since September, with 512 active cases and 96 outbreaks.

Alberta has reported 22,996 cases and 293 deaths since March.

HIGHER HOSPITALIZATIONS

Hospitalizations decreased slightly to 116, including 16 patients in ICU, but the chief medical officer of health is concerned about the current numbers.

“Last week I mentioned the trend in higher hospitalization numbers is something that we are watching closely,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said. “We are currently at a compounded daily COVID hospitalization rise of 3.1 per cent across the province in the past two weeks, which is getting closer to the five per cent trigger threshold.”

Hinshaw previously announced a five per cent hospitalization rate would trigger mandatory restrictions.

The factors for the increase in hospitalizations, she said, are mainly community spread and several hospital outbreaks.

Alberta is currently using 23 per cent of the 70 ICU beds allocated to COVID-19 patients.

EDMONTON ZONE DATA

The chief medical officer of health is also concerned about the Edmonton zone having just over half of Alberta’s COVID-19 infections.

It has been two weeks since she introduced some voluntary restriction in the capital region. The situation has improved slightly — but some worrying signs remain.

Hinshaw revealed the Edmonton zone’s reproduction value has decreased from 1.35 to 1.17, but that isn’t good enough.

“This is a good start, but the bad news is that anytime the R-value remains above 1, the number of cases is still growing. We need to bring this value below 1 to reduce the burden on our health system.”

The city of Edmonton has 1,318 active cases.

NEW TESTING CHANGE

One month ago, Hinshaw changed Alberta Health Services’ testing strategy to focus asymptomatic testing solely on priority groups.

But with cold and flu season, wait times have not decreased as much as health officials hoped.

So, effective immediately, AHS will only test Albertans with symptoms and people with close contacts and linked to outbreaks.

“The evidence is clear: Asymptomatic individuals without known exposures are not driving the spread in Alberta,” Hinshaw said.

Asymptomatic appointments already booked will be kept until Nov. 4.

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