Hospitalizations in Alberta due to COVID-19 increased by about eight per cent over the past week, with the number of people in intensive care remaining stable, Alberta Health Minister Jason Copping said Wednesday.
A total of 6,592 new cases of COVID-19 were identified over the past week, with 1,220 people currently in hospital with the virus, including 46 in intensive care units.
A total of 62 people in the province died from COVID-19 between April 19 and April 25. Those dying ranged in age from 32 and 103.
“I’m pleased to report that we continue to see signs of slowing transmission in Alberta,” Copping said during the weekly COVID-19 update press conference. “It is too early to know if it is the start of a sustained downward trend but the signs are hopeful.
“We are likely near peak in transmission and then in hospital admissions, but we are not there yet. As is always the case, even if transmission is slowing as it appears to be, hospital admissions will continue to rise for a few weeks. Overall hospitalizations are up slightly but are still in line with pre-COVID years.”
Over the past week the COVID-19 positivity rate in Alberta was 25.7 per cent, which is stable from the previous week.
“That is lower than most of the past month and signals that we may be plateauing,” he said.
Alberta Health continues to monitor COVID through wastewater surveillance, PCR test positivity and hospital admissions, he said.
“Wastewater signals remain high at many sites, including Calgary, but some areas are seeing a decline or plateau over the past week. That includes Edmonton, Red Deer, Canmore, Banff and Grande Prairie,” he said.
“And the surrounding communities in the capital region are seeing a much slower increase than in the initial Omicron wave.”
However, the COVID pandemic continues to put strain on the province’s overall health care system, he said.
“While COVID admissions are not driving the same capacity challenges as previous waves, our hospitals remain under significant pressures,” he said.
“Emergency departments and EMS are under real strain. The reality is that two years of COVID-19 is straining health-care services. COVID is still here and it remains a significant risk, particularly for unvaccinated people.”
More than 21,000 Albertans received fourth doses of vaccine last week, he said.
The province is working to make more Paxlovid antiviral medication available to Albertans who qualify for its use, he said.
During Wednesday’s press conference, Dr. Deana Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said, “Vaccination remains the single most effective tool we have to reduce the risk of experiencing severe illness, hospitalization and death.
“Even against the BA2 variant, vaccines are effective at preventing these worse-case scenarios. That is why we continue to urge Albertans to get every dose they are eligible for.”
Alberta Health continues to work with continuing care facilities to help prevent severe outcomes, she said.
“It is particularly important that anyone who is feeling a little bit sick even with mild respiratory symptoms not go into those settings to visit, and to try to do everything we can to minimize the chance of introducing the virus and causing those outbreaks,” she said.