COVID-19 modelling projections highlight the importance of “aggressive countermeasures,” says the provincial government.
Premier Jason Kenney discussed Alberta Health’s virus projections at the provincial government’s daily press conference Wednesday afternoon.
The government also announced 50 new cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, bringing the total to 1,423.
Six new cases were confirmed in the City of Red Deer. There are now 32 in total, 16 of which are active and 16 which are recovered. Red Deer County has a total of 12 cases: eight active and four recovered.
The City of Lacombe has two recovered cases, while the County of Lacombe has one active and three recovered cases.
Stettler County has one active case, Clearwater County also has one active case, Mountain View County has two active and three recovered cases, and Ponoka County has one recovered case.
There were 72 recovered cases announced Wednesday, bringing the total to 519. Additionally, there have been 68,762 completed tests in Alberta – 29 people have died as a result of the virus.
Alberta Health’s modelling projections indicate total cases will range from 800,000 to one million infections — from mild and undiagnosed to detected, confirmed and treated – under two provincial scenarios: probable and elevated.
The government is advising that existing public health orders could be in place until the end of May.
“I know these numbers can be overwhelming. But these models are not a done deal. I want Albertans to see them as a challenge. Perhaps the greatest challenge of our generation,” said Kenney.
“The modelling helps us anticipate and prepare for the demands on Alberta’s health-care system so we can ensure we are prepared to support patients at the peak of the pandemic and beyond.”
The probable scenario projects that one or two more people will be infected for every case. This is comparable to the moderate growth seen in the United Kingdom and countries that have had success in containing growth.
This scenario would see a mid-May peak, with 800,000 total infections and between 400 and 3,100 deaths.
The elevated scenario projects a greater number of people being infected for every case. This scenario forecasts 1,060,000 infections and between 500 and 6,600 deaths.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said the projections will evolve over time.
“Modelling is an estimate based on the best-known data at the time that the model is put together. We will continue to adjust it based on emerging Alberta data and evidence,” said Hinshaw.
These scenarios estimate that after the virus reaches its peak, the number of cases will decline over the summer.
Without any provincial interventions to manage the pandemic response, projections show that about 13,000 Albertans could have been hospitalized, with 3,900 requiring intensive care.
The modelling helps the government anticipate and prepare for the demands on Alberta’s health-care system.
Alberta Health has been scaling up the capacity of the province’s health-care system by expanding space in hospitals, opening up more acute care beds, intensive care unit spaces and ventilators.
These measures will ensure that under both provincial scenarios, the health-care system is prepared to support patients at the peak of the pandemic, the agency says.
AHS plans to be able to increase ICU capacity by 1,081 beds for COVID-19 patients and have 761 ventilators available by the end of April, if necessary.