Everything you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Wednesday, December 29th

The latest COVID-19 figures:

  • Alberta has seen one abrupt increase in COVID-19 cases during the holidays – with more than 5,000 new cases in a five-day period, giving rise to a warning that now is the time to stop the spread of Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s health chief, and Prime Minister Jason Kenney last provincial update, Tuesday afternoon.
  • There is at least 15,000 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta confirmed by PCR tests from Tuesday’s update. It’s shot in the air from 8,359 active cases just five days earlier at the time of the last provincial update on 23 December.
  • In Calgary and Edmonton, about one in three people go to one PCR test are positive.
  • Hinshaw warned on Tuesday that she expects the active case count from the government PCR tests are “just the tip of the iceberg” because they do not include persons who have not been tested or who have confirmed their case through rapid tests at home.
  • Experts and the government have recognized that future inventories of active COVID-19 cases in Alberta will be severely underreported, after the government changed its test protocols in response to the expected increase in cases linked to the more contagious Omicron variant.
    • On December 23, the government urged Albertans to avoid getting a PCR test, if possible, in order to maintain limited laboratory capacity to track outbreaks in high-risk environments such as continuing care. Instead, it now recommends going home fast antigen test kits for people with symptoms, except for some priority groups.
    • People who get one positive result of fast test kit is now instructed to consider it a COVID-19 confirmation; people who feel symptomatic are also told the same thing. They are asked to isolate themselves and inform their close contacts.

Se | Alberta’s chief physician says Omicron cases are spreading too fast to test IDs:

Omicron cases “only the tip of the iceberg,” says Dr. Hinshaw

Dr. Hinshaw says Albertans should assume that someone infected with the Omicron variant is in all public places. She said that in the fourth wave, the province’s test captured about one in six cases, but tests can no longer maintain this relationship. 1:16

  • On Tuesday, Kenney advised people to reconsider their New Year’s Eve plans amid the rise in COVID-19 cases, as well as urging eligible Albertans to get their vaccinations and booster shots as well as use quick tests before attending gatherings.
  • From Tuesday’s rough estimate, the number is on new active cases a day from the government’s PCR test were:
    • December 27: 1,400 (6,500 tests).
    • December 26: 750 (4,000 tests).
    • December 25: 1,600 (7,200 tests).
    • December 24: 2,500 (11,500 tests).
    • December 23: 2,000 daily new cases (11,500 tests).
  • Alberte’s positive assessment has risen to 22 percent and it is “much higher” in Calgary, Kenney said.
  • It is estimated that 323 Albertans were present Hospital with COVID, including 50 in the intensive care unit.
  • The province did not have up – to – date information on the number of death: Dead since the last update on December 23, where no new deaths had been reported the day before. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 3,299 COVID deaths in Alberta.
  • Daily updates for government dashboard for pandemic tracking has been slowed down during the holidays. New data, including daily figures, are due to be delivered on Wednesday and January 4 (so the charts in this story will have gaps in data).

NOTE: Most of the charts in this story are based on the Alberta Government’s statistics posted online on its pandemic dashboard, which is only updated twice during the holidays, December 29th and January 4th. So the numbers shown in the charts may lag behind the estimates that the government has announced orally. They will be updated as soon as possible when the government publishes the exact figures.

The latest on rapid testing, restrictions, outbreaks and more:

  • Kenney said Tuesday that Alberta does not plan to follow Quebec’s clue in allowing some health care workers who have tested positive for COVID-19 or have come into close contact with a confirmed case to remain on the job to protect hospital capacity. However, he did not completely rule it out.
  • Earlier this month, in anticipation of expected demand from rising Omicron variants, the province of Alberta ordered Health Services to allow all unimmunized physicians and staff wishing to return to work to do so, participating in a temporary test program.
    • This affected approximately 1,400 full-time and part-time employees who are not fully immunized and who have previously been on unpaid leave. Testing is done for the staff.
  • The government is also reviewing whether to adjust the 10-day isolation protocol for vaccinated individuals with COVID-19, Kenney said Tuesday. He noted that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently changed its recommendation to a five-day isolation period followed by five days wearing masks in public if they are asymptomatic. He said a decision on this could be made later in the week.
  • Another a million quick tests purchased by Alberta has arrived and another three million will arrive next week, Kenney said. The province bought its own 10 million rapid tests, he said.

SE: How to perform the rapid antigen test:

How to use a COVID-19 test kit at home

As the province releases fast COVID-19 test kits, Edmonton pharmacist Shivali Sharma shows CBC’s Pippa Reed how to use a correct one. 1:51

  • New public health restrictions in Alberta entered into force on 24 December. They include:
    • Venues in the restriction exemption program that room for more than 1,000 people must have a capacity of 50 per cent. For venues with a capacity of 500 to 1,000 people, 500 people is the limit. No food or drink may be consumed in these places.
    • Restaurants, pubs and bars are to have a maximum table capacity of 10 people. Mixing between tables and interactive activities such as dancing or billiards is not allowed.
    • They must stop serving spirits at 23:00 and close at 12.30
    • Hinshaw strongly urged people to reduce their assemblies, but recognized assemblies of up to 10 people are allowed.
    • The tightening restrictions came after Kenney loosened up restrictions on private contact on 15 Dec., abolition of the rule that only persons from two households can meet indoors. He said that social gatherings could consist of people from any household, but should not exceed 10 persons (not including those under 18 years of age). He also dropped the requirement that everyone at indoor social gatherings should be fully vaccinated.
    • Alberta has had one exemption program for restrictions, a voluntary vaccine pass system, in place from September 20 after suffering through a disastrous fourth wave of COVID-19. A complete list of restrictions and exceptions is available on the government website.

  • The Omicron variant has added several post-secondary institutions throughout the province back to online learning in the first few weeks of winter.
  • This includes the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary, MacEwan University, the University of Lethbridge, the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT), the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) and Mount Royal University.

SE | What is the Omicron variant? Infection expert Craig Jenne simplifies what the variant is:

What is the Omicron variant?

Infection expert Craig Jenne simplifies what the variant is and what it means for the latest round of our fight against COVID. 5:00

The latest on vaccines:

  • As of December 24, Alberta ranked last of all provinces and territories in terms of the percentage of eligible persons (aged five and over) who had received Vaccine against covid-19, according to CBC’s vaccine tracker.
    • 72.2 pct of the total population of the province – or 76.6 pct of eligible Albertans (ages five years and older) – have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
    • 78.4 pct of the total population of the province, and 83.3 pct of those aged five and older, have received the least one dose.
    • It can be compared to 82.4 pct of the total population across Canada who have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 76.5 pct of the total population fully vaccinated. Among those eligible across the country, 86.7 pct has received a dose, and 80.5 pct is fully vaccinated.

  • As of December 21, the Alberta government announced that anyone 18 years and older who received their second COVID-19 vaccine at least five months ago could now order one third dose.
  • Boosters of the Pfizer BioNTech Vaccine will be offered Albertans 18 to 29 years due to a slightly increased risk of myocarditis in younger Albertans, especially men, from Moderna – although the government stresses that individuals are much more likely to experience myocarditis from COVID-19 infection than from vaccine .

See which regions are hardest hit:

Here is latest detailed regional breakdown of active cases, as reported by the province on 23 December:

  • Calgary zone: 4,665.
  • Edmonton zone: 2,539.
  • Central zone: 460.
  • Nordzone: 424.
  • South Zone: 241.
  • Unknown: 30.

Here are the latest Alberta COVID-19 stories:

The latest updates on COVID-19 in Alberta in charts and graphs:

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