Hospitalizations, active COVID-19 cases on the rise again in Alberta

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Alberta health officials say surgical capacity may need to be changed to cope with the increase in hospitalizations brought on by the rapidly spreading Omicron variant.

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As of Tuesday, 708 Albertans were hospitalized with COVID-19, including 80 in intensive care. Those numbers are up from 635 and 72 on Monday. A week ago, 436 people were receiving hospital treatment.

The increase comes as the Omicron variant pushed COVID-19 cases in the province to new highs, with 58,613 active cases reported on Tuesday. New cases and positivity rates, leading indicators of serious outcomes, have increased dramatically since the highly contagious variant became the dominant strain in the province.

Alberta Health Services spokesperson Kerry Williamson said on Tuesday that the health authority was “extremely concerned” about the recent increase in the number of patients.

“AHS continuously monitors and plans all eventualities to ensure that we can continue to care for patients and keep Albertans safe,” Williamson said in an email. “During the previous four waves, AHS has been able to increase hospital and intensive care capacity as needed to meet demand. Plans are in place to increase acute care capacity, with the right staff and resources when needed. The current projected need can be satisfied.

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Cases and hospitalizations had started to decline in late 2021 after a fourth wave based on the Delta variant put extreme pressure on Alberta’s healthcare system. During this fourth wave, all elective surgeries were canceled and intensive care capacity nearly doubled, with surge spaces being created where possible.

Williamson said there are 241 general adult intensive care beds open in Alberta, including 68 booster beds. He said provincial intensive care capacity was 80 percent, but without the additional capacity it would be 112 percent.

As the province resolves a backlog of canceled and postponed surgeries from previous waves, Williamson said AHS performed over 95% of normal volumes and cancer surgeries were over 100%.

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“The total waiting list is stable. It’s around 80,500 this week, up from 81,600 in early December, ”said Williamson. “We are doing everything we can to get back to normal surgical volume. However, that plan may need to change if Omicron forces us to increase intensive care capacity. “

AHS modeling leaked online last week showed cases are expected to increase in the coming weeks. Even the most conservative projection suggests the province could have 968 COVID-19 patients in hospital within 14 days. The modeling did not show projections in intensive care.

Other Canadian jurisdictions have also seen increased hospitalizations recently. On Tuesday, Ontario reported that more than 3,000 people were hospitalized with COVID-19. Ontario is roughly three times the population of Alberta.

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Alberta reported 4,704 new cases Tuesday out of 12,201 tests, a positivity rate of about 38%. Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced that only high-risk Albertans could undergo a PCR test to fight long wait times to get the test as well as extended wait times to receive the drugs. results.

She said the actual number of cases in the province could be 10 times the reported number as Albertans are encouraged to use rapid antigenic testing at home.

However, on Tuesday evening, Hinshaw tweeted Alberta Health learned that the planned supply of rapid test kits from the Canadian government and manufacturers would be delayed. She said the department is working to get more kits as soon as possible.

Eight more deaths were reported on Tuesday.

dshort@postmedia.com

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