Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, reported 323 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, reported 323 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)

‘We’re in a danger zone,’ says Hinshaw

The province’s top doctor says “we’re in a danger zone” when it comes to rising cases of COVID-19.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health, said this fall will be critical for Albertans.

“The coming weeks will tell that story about whether we’re able, collectively, to bend that curve downwards by following the guidance that’s already out there, or if we tip the wrong way and we see our hospitals fill up and impair our abilities to do elective surgeries and offer services that our health-care services need to be able to offer that are not COVID related.

“We’re not yet at that point where our system is not able to cope, but we’re getting closer.”

The government reported 323 COVID-19 cases Tuesday (a 2.51 per cent positivity rate) and one additional death. The cases are as of the end of day Monday.

The recent death is in the Edmonton zone. To date, 293 deaths have been linked to COVID in Alberta.

There are 116 people in hospitals across the province with the virus, including 16 in intensive care.

Hinshaw said the province is watching hospitalization numbers.

“We’re currently at a compounded daily COVID hospitalization rise of 3.1 per cent across the province in the past two weeks, which is getting close to the five per cent trigger threshold,” said Hinshaw.

“I’m concerned by the rise, which appears to be driven by a number of factors, mainly the increase in community case counts and several hospital outbreaks.”

Central zone active cases went down slightly Tuesday to 145 from the previous day’s 148. Three people remain in hospital in the zone. To date, the zone has seen 704 recoveries and 857 confirmed cases.

Over the weekend, a man in his 20s died in the Maskwacis area – the central zone’s eighth virus death. The man became the second person in their 20s in Alberta to die of the virus.

The City of Red Deer’s active cases stayed the same Tuesday at 39. The cases are split between Red Deer east (19), Red Deer southwest (seven) and 13 in Red Deer north, according to the province’s geospatial local geographic area map.

According to the same map, there are 45 active cases in Wetaskiwin County (Maskwacis), 12 in Lacombe and nearby Lacombe County, 12 in central and north Red Deer County and parts of Lacombe County, one in Rimbey (west Ponoka County and partial Lacombe County), two in Innisfail (south Red Deer County) and four in Olds and north Mountain View County.

There are seven active cases in the Stettler County area and four in Camrose County area.

There are no active cases in Sylvan Lake, Three Hills area, Sundre (west Mountain View County), east Ponoka County and Rocky Mountain House (Clearwater County) area.

About eight per cent of schools are on outbreak or alert, with 512 confirmed cases in these facilities. Outbreaks are declared in 96 schools, including 26 that are on watch, including Hunting Hills High School in Red Deer.

The Alberta government is pausing all asymptomatic testing to reduce wait times and speed up results.

Hinshaw said asymptomatic individuals without known exposures are not significantly driving the spread in Alberta.

“Only about one in 1,000 people with no symptoms and no exposures has tested positive on average in the past seven months,” she said, adding the province needs to focus on testing where it counts.

“In the last week alone, about 30 per cent of all COVID-19 tests that our labs conducted were for Albertans who had no exposure and no symptoms. By removing these from our system, we hope to get Albertans with the highest risk of COVID their results as quickly as possible.”

As of Oct. 20, AHS and pharmacies will not book new appointments for Albertans seeking asymptomatic testing. All existing appointments will be honoured up to Nov. 4.



mamta.lulla@reddeeradvocate.com

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