Premier Jason Kenney asks Albertans to reconsider New Year’s plans, not ‘look for loopholes’

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney asked people to keep the congregations small and not gather with more than nine other adults and be vaccinated.Larry MacDougal / The Canadian Press

Alberta’s premieres asked people to reconsider their New Year’s plans as the province registered more than 8,000 COVID-19 cases over a five-day period.

“Follow the restrictions that are in place and please do not look for loopholes,” Jason Kenney said at a news conference Tuesday.

“Keep your congregations small and do not gather with more than nine other adults.”

Kenney joined the Chief Medical Health Officer for the province’s first pandemic update since Christmas.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the province’s new COVID-19 cases ranged from a maximum of about 2,500 on Christmas Eve, when there were about 11,500 tests, to a low of about 750 cases out of 4,000 tests on the second day of Christmas. The numbers are preliminary, she said.

Experts have warned that the number of COVID-19 cases is likely to be much higher than reported due to public holidays, and test centers are reaching their limits.

Hospital admissions remain “relatively stable,” Hinshaw said, noting that it is still too early to know whether Omicron will stress the health care system.

“In our fourth wave with Delta, we did not see a steep rise in ICU admissions until about a month after our cases began to rise sharply,” Hinshaw said. She expects hospital admissions to increase due to the impressive number of Omicron cases, she said.

Verified numbers, along with the number of new deaths, are expected to be available Wednesday, she said.

Rules for private events in the home that allow up to 10 people from multiple households, vaccinated or unvaccinated, were loosened just before Christmas. Children do not count in the limit of 10 people.

Although no new restrictions were announced Tuesday, Kenney urged eligible Albertans to get their vaccinations and boosters and use quick tests before attending gatherings.

The opposition NDP said the press conference did not comment on how the province’s overburdened health system will handle the possible increase in Omicron cases.

NDP deputy chief Sarah Hoffman said in a release that Alberta’s test and tracking systems “have collapsed.”

“We know that the numbers reported tomorrow are likely to be only a fraction of the true extent of the pandemic, as most Albertans with symptoms do not currently have access to a PCR test, and we hear ongoing reports on pharmacies. that runs out of fast tests, “she said.

Kenney said one million quick tests that Alberta bought have arrived, and another three million will arrive next week. The province bought its own 10 million rapid tests.

There are currently no plans for Alberta to follow Quebec’s decision to keep some health workers who test positive for COVID-19 on the job to avoid a breakdown in services, Kenney said.

While several of Alberta’s health workers are likely to have to isolate due to the highly contagious nature of the Omicron variant, he said the situation is not as serious as it is in Quebec.

But things can change, Kenney added.

“I do not think we can completely rule out that if our hospitals were under the most extreme form of pressure, we would have to change the requirements for self-isolation to maximize the workforce.”

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