Alberta records a record 2,775 COVID-19 cases, 30% positivity

“The positivity rates we are seeing are higher than before, showing the portability of Omicron,” Hinshaw tweeted on Wednesday.

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Alberta smashed COVID-19 case and tested positivity records Wednesday amid an unprecedented rise in infections due to the ultra-infectious Omicron variant.

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The province reported 2,775 new cases of the new coronavirus in its first full data update since December 22nd. That is the highest number ever, after 2,484 cases were counted on Christmas Eve. Prior to this week, the province had never surpassed 2,500 daily cases in any previous wave.

The new cases come from about 9,400 tests, representing a provincial test positivity rate of 30 percent, which also ranks as a pandemic record. The positivity rates are highest in the Alberta Health Services Calgary zone, where 36 percent of the treated PCR tests returned positive.

Alberta Health Director Dr. Deena Hinshaw said on Tuesday that the number of total COVID-19 cases in the province is believed to be much higher than the officially reported number. This is due in part to the fact that PCR testing through Alberta Health Services has been restricted to high-risk groups, with other Albertans with COVID-19 symptoms being asked to perform rapid antigen testing at home if results the province does not collect.

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“The positivity rates we are seeing are higher than before, showing the portability of Omicron,” Hinshaw tweeted on Wednesday. “That’s why anyone who feels sick should stay home and away from others until they feel better.”

Prior to the ongoing fifth wave, Alberta had never recorded a test positivity of over 14 percent.

Admission rates have also risen since data were last published on December 22nd. There are now 349 Albertans in the hospital with COVID-19, an increase from 318. However, admissions to intensive care units fell – there are now 57 Albertans in the intensive care unit with viruses compared to 64 last week.

Hinshaw warned at a Tuesday news conference that the number of admissions is lagging behind the number of cases, meaning the effect of Omicron on hospitals will not be fully known until sometime next month. New research on the Omicron variant increasingly suggests that this virus strain causes milder disease than the previously dominant Delta variant, but its significantly increased transmissibility continues to raise concerns about hospital capacity.

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Alberta's head of health Dr.  Deena Hinshaw provides an update on the province's response to COVID-19 and the new Omicron variant during a press conference in Edmonton, Monday, November 29, 2021.
Alberta’s head of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw provides an update on the province’s response to COVID-19 and the new Omicron variant during a press conference in Edmonton, Monday, November 29, 2021.

Alberta’s confirmed active COVID-19 case stands at 17,396, up from 8,359 on December 22nd. There have been 11 new COVID-19 deaths since the previous update, bringing Alberta’s numbers from the pandemic to 3,310.

Vaccinations continue in Alberta, where the province reports 126,239 third doses administered since December 22nd. One in five residents of Alberta has now received a booster shot, including 25.7 percent of adults.

While Omicron results in an increase in COVID-19 infection among fully vaccinated Albertans, those who have not received any doses of vaccine are currently catching the virus at a rate more than three times that of their immunized peers, according to provincial data .

Although Alberta released some data on Wednesday, public health officials did not provide an overall update.

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Excluded from the statistics report were data on COVID-19 outbreaks across the province. Outbreak reporting, which is typically delivered on Tuesdays and Fridays, has not been completed since December 21 and will not be updated again until January 4.

Alberta Health spokeswoman Lisa Glover said the absence of outbreak reporting is a product of the holiday.

“This is in line with what other provinces are doing to balance giving staff time off and keeping the Albers informed,” Glover said. “To be clear, this only affects public reporting. Information is still being collected and traded, and frontline staff and health teams continue to work every day to care for Albertans, as they have done throughout the pandemic.”

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While some Canadian jurisdictions have paused outbreak reporting during the holidays, others including Ontario and Quebec have continued to provide updated outbreak data this week.

NDP deputy leader Sarah Hoffman criticized the province for taking a two-week break from outbreak reporting, calling it “incredibly disrespectful.” She said public health workers have the right to time off, but argued that staff should be hired to fill holiday gaps.

“Parents are getting ready to send their children back to school. At the very least, they deserve to know what they’re sending their children into,” Hoffman said. positions. “

Sarah Hoffman, NDP critic for education Tuesday, October 5, 2021.
Sarah Hoffman, NDP critic for education Tuesday, October 5, 2021. Photo by Ian Kucerak /Postmedia

Hoffman also raised concerns that Prime Minister Jason Kenney appears to be attending Tuesday’s COVID-19 news conference with a stuffy nose, which health chief Dr. Deena Hinshaw has marked as a symptom of Omicron.

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Kenney’s CEO of communications, Brock Harrison, told Postmedia that the prime minister has a chronic medical condition found in his family, where he has mild congestion in cold and dry weather. Harrison said Kenney consulted with his doctor, who said that since this is not a new symptom, it is not considered a potential COVID-19 symptom.

“He took a quick test before the press conference, knowing he wanted to be in touch with people, got the negative test, and then unfortunately the congestion manifested itself on live television,” Harrison said.

Hinshaw has said, including during Tuesday’s news conference, that people with COVID-19 symptoms should isolate themselves even if they get a negative fast test result. The prime minister’s actions appear to contradict the public health council, said Hoffman, who spoke to Postmedia from her home as she also had symptoms.

“I do not know why the premiere behaves as if there is one set of rules for Albertans and another set of rules for himself,” Hoffman said.

jherring@postmedia.com

Twitter: @jasonfherring

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