Premier Jason Kenney and health officials to update Albertans on COVID-19, Omicron wave

Premier Jason Kenney will update Albertans on COVID-19 Tuesday afternoon as the province contends with a surge in cases of the Omicron variant. 

Kenney, along with Health Minister Jason Copping and Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, will hold a COVID-19 briefing today at 3:30 p.m. MT.

Watch the news conference here.

The average number of new daily cases, including the number of Albertans infected with the Omicron variant, has grown in recent days. Test positivity rates recorded on Saturday and Sunday reached the highest levels since October.

Alberta has 5,652 total active cases, up from 4,431 on Friday. The number of Omicron cases also jumped to 1,045 recorded on Monday, an increase of 879 from Friday’s update. 

There are 324 people in hospital with the disease, including 69 in ICU. 

There have been 3,292 deaths from COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

As Omicron spreads, Alberta Health Services has implemented visitor restrictions at hospitals and continuing care facilities.

Starting Tuesday, visitors and designated support people who are a close contact of someone with COVID-19 will not be able to access continuing care or acute-care sites for 14 days from the date of last exposure.

“This temporary measure mirrors similar limits to visitation during previous waves and is intended to protect patients, residents and health-care providers,” AHS said in a statement Monday.

Alberta is also racing to restock pharmacy shelves after its rollout of rapid antigen test kits got off to a bumpy start Friday. 

Between Friday and Monday, Albertans picked up about 230,000 kits of the 500,000 distributed to select pharmacies and AHS sites.

Some sites ran out of stock within a matter of hours, while others contended with long lines as Albertans scrambled to bring home the tests ahead of the holidays. 

The province has two million more tests on hand that will be distributed in the coming days, and another one million additional tests with confirmed shipping dates later this month, said AHS spokesperson Lisa Glover.

“We’ll resupply and expand as fast as we can get supply from the federal government,” Glover said.

“We’ve requested another 4.3 million tests in December, and then we hope to increase to  10 million tests a month starting in January.”

If a specific location does not have kits available, Albertans are encouraged to look online for additional locations.

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