Alberta’s leading COVID-19 indicators show ‘moderately upward’ trend | The Canadian News

As the sixth wave of COVID-19 hits other regions of the world, Alberta officials warn there have been slight increases in leading indicators for the province.

Between March 29 and April 4, more viruses were detected in the sewage, Health Minister Jason Copping said on Thursday.

“It is not a spike (like) that we saw in late December and early January, and in some centers we are seeing the data fluctuate around a level that is between the extremes of recent months,” he said. “So it’s a concern and we’re monitoring it closely.”

Click to play video: 'Alberta Expands Eligibility for Fourth Dose of COVID-19 Vaccines'

Alberta expands eligibility for fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccines

Alberta expands eligibility for fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccines

The positivity rate for PCR tests also increased over the same period, ranging from 24 to 32 percent.

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“As the minister mentioned, this headline indicator is trending moderately upwards, as is the wastewater data,” said Chief Medical Officer for Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw.

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Despite the slight increase in rates, the health minister said the province does not expect to make any changes to public health guidelines at this time. According to Copping, the numbers are not expected to rise to the point where COVID-19 hospitalizations put a strain on the system.

As of Thursday’s update, Alberta’s total hospital occupancy was around 90 percent, depending on the day. According to Copping, that’s similar to this time of year in the five years before the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are some sites in Edmonton and Calgary that are over capacity, but the health minister said that’s normal for this time of year, too.

With leading indicators for the province rising, Copping expects a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations in the coming weeks, but said the province is well positioned to handle it.

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It’s a clear sign, Hinshaw said, that COVID-19 is still present in the province.

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“The transition to an endemic state does not mean that the virus has disappeared, but rather that we have tools to protect ourselves and allow us to adapt to living with it.”

Earlier this week, the National Immunization Advisory Community told provinces to prepare to roll out the fourth dose for some populations.

Over the next few weeks, the country should prepare for the “rapid deployment” of a second booster program. The focus should be on those over 80 and residents of long-term care and other congregate living settings, NACI said.

Changes in the treatment of COVID-19

On Wednesday, the province announced that it is opening eligibility for the fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Starting April 12, people over the age of 70, as well as First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people over the age of 65, can get the second booster shot.

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The province says that all older people in group care, regardless of their age, can also receive the dose.

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Alberta expands access to fourth dose of COVID 19 vaccines

The province will soon receive 10,000 doses of the newly approved Novavax Nuvaxovid vaccine. The vaccine is not an MRNA vaccine and those over the age of 18 who wish to receive it can also call 811 to schedule an appointment beginning April 12.

The province is also opening up eligibility for those who have tested positive and want to use the antiviral drug Paxlovid.

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More Alberta pharmacies can access COVID-19 treatment Paxlovid

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First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people age 45 and older who are unvaccinated or have a dose of the vaccine can now access Paxlovid. People living in group care facilities, regardless of their immunization status, are also now eligible.

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But, Hinshaw warned, the best defense remains vaccines.

“While it is good news that we can offer Paxlovid to more people, I encourage those with significant risk factors not to rely on it alone. Vaccination remains our best defense against the virus.”

The province also announced that children ages 5 to 11 can now receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, though Hinshaw said the recommendation to start or end treatment with Pfizer’s pediatric vaccine remains.

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As of April 4, 90.2% of Albertans age 12 and older had received at least one dose, while 86.7% of the same population had received two doses. Of those eligible, 36.7 percent have received a booster dose.

As of Wednesday, there were 990 people in hospital with COVID-19 in Alberta, and 44 of those patients were being treated in intensive care.

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