COVID-19 hospitalizations are climbing in Alberta with the Edmonton area seeing most of the latest increase.
On Tuesday, Alberta reported 708 patients in hospital with the disease — 73 more than it reported the day before and 40 of which were identified in the Edmonton zone.
There are 237 COVID-19 patients in Edmonton zone hospitals, and 287 in the Calgary zone, which saw 25 new hospitalizations since Monday.
Of those hospitalized with the disease, Alberta identified 80 in intensive care, eight more than reported yesterday, while eight more people infected with COVID-19 died in Alberta, raising the province’s death toll to 3,352.
The province also identified 4,704 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the number of active cases to 58,613. The number of new cases reported Tuesday is lower than what Alberta has seen over the past few days , but the province recently made changes to PCR testing eligibility.
At a Monday press conference, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said PCR testing will be limited to those who are at risk for severe outcomes if infected, as well as eligible Albertans who live and work in high-risk environments — such as health-care workers and and those employed in continuing care settings, shelters and correctional facilities — or meet other qualifying criteria .
The highly transmissible Omicron variant causing COVID-19 and spreading throughout Alberta has increased demand for PCR testing beyond the province’s capacity, Hinshaw said Monday, adding that those with symptoms should isolate for five days if they’ve been fully vaccinated or until symptoms subside, which ever takes longer. According to provincial isolation and quarantine requirements , those who aren’t fully vaccinated should follow the same rules, but for 10 days instead of five.
On Dec. 23, Hinshaw recommended Albertans reserve PCR testing for high-risk cases , as well as those unable to obtain a rapid test. But under the new rules, inability to obtain rapid tests no longer qualifies a person for a PCR test, even though rapid tests have been difficult to find in Alberta lately.
“You can take a rapid test if you have one, but for most people with mild illness, a test is not necessary, and symptoms can be managed at home,” Hinshaw said Monday.
As of Monday, Alberta has administered more than 7.9 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, with 79.7 per cent of the population having received at least one dose, and 73.2 per cent having received two doses.
Hinshaw also said that on Jan. 3, more than one million Albertans rolled up their sleeves for booster shots.