COVID-19: Alberta reports 62 deaths, hospitalizations rise

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The province reported 62 deaths over the last week as the number of Albertans in hospital with COVID-19 continues to rise.

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Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said there has been an average of nine COVID-related deaths per day from April 19-25. She said according to US data, prior to COVID there was an average of one death per day per two million people for influenza and RSV combined — which translates to two to three deaths in Alberta per day.

“Clearly, COVID is still something we need to be very mindful of,” Hinshaw said Wednesday during the weekly COVID-19 update.

There are 1,220 Albertans in hospital with the virus, an increase of 94 from the previous week. Of those in hospital, 47 are in an intensive care unit, an increase of four from the previous week.

Alberta reported 6,592 new cases of COVID-19 over the last week, including a daily-high of 1,228 on April 20. Hinshaw said the province’s PCR test-positivity rate ranged from 23.4 per cent to 30.6 per cent with an average of 25.7 per cent for the week.

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Health Minister Jason Copping said the province continues to see “signs of slowing transmission.” I have added wastewater virus levels remain high at many sites, including in Calgary, but some areas are seeing a decline or plateau over the past week.

“That includes Edmonton, Red Deer, Canmore, Banff and Grande Prairie,” said Copping. “Edmonton has seen high levels recently, but the level has dropped sharply in the past week. Now, it’s too soon to know if it’s a start of a sustained downward trend, but the signs are hopeful.”

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, at judge ruled Hinshaw can’t claim cabinet confidentiality to prevent sharing some of her recommendations on COVID-19 restrictions. Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Barbara Romaine ruled Hinshaw’s discussions with government leaders must be made public, contrary to the defence’s argument they’re protected by cabinet immunity.

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Romaine had asked Hinshaw if Premier Jason Kenney or cabinet members had ever directed her to impose more severe restrictions than she’d recommended, or to impose stricter measures on specific groups such as churches, gyms or small businesses against her advice.

She’d also asked Hinshaw if she ever recommended that restrictions be loosened, and if that advice had been rejected or ignored by cabinet.

Hinshaw declined to answer questions about the ruling during Wednesday’s availability due to the matter still being before the court.

Precautions for Oilers playoff games, large events

Hinshaw also said whether people are attending Oilers or Flames playoff games, or other events in the community, it’s important to look at the information available online and determine what the current level of transmission is.

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“We know right now that transmission, while plateauing, is still at a high level and so it’s really important for people who might be attending to consider what precautions would be appropriate for them, for their risk factors,” she said.

She said anyone feeling ill, with a sore throat, runny nose or a cough should “absolutely not” attend the games. Hinshaw added there are still legal isolation orders in place that require those who have respiratory illness to be at home and away from others.

Hinshaw said those attending a game can protect themselves by wearing the highest quality mask they have, bringing hand sanitizer and more. She said if she were to attend a game, she would want to wear a medical-grade mask at a minimum.

“Ultimately, it’s all about multiple layers of protection and there’s no single intervention that will guarantee safety and attending a game where there’s many, many people present, or attending any event… there will always be some risk and so it’s a matter of assessing that risk comfort, taking the precautions that are appropriate for who that person is,” said Hinshaw.

— With files from Bill Kaufmann

[email protected]

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