Coronavirus Canada Updates: Alberta’s COVID-19 positivity rate rises to 10.5%; health system under ‘enormous strain’

Coronavirus Canada Updates: 133 new cases of COVID-19, 3 more deaths in Manitoba
Coronavirus Canada Updates: 133 new cases of COVID-19, 3 more deaths in Manitoba

The province recorded 1,828 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and performed more than 17,200 lab tests on Thursday, bringing Alberta’s positivity rate to 10.5 per cent.

“This positivity rate is a grim milestone,” chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said.

As cases rise and pressure on the health-care system mounts, Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services continue to work on a contingency plan and mobile field hospitals in Edmonton and Calgary, as well as bolstering the contact-tracing team.

As part of its contingency planning, AHS president Dr. Verna Yiu said the health authority is preparing mobile units to reduce demand on hospitals and help balance non-COVID-19-related care while meeting the increased demand of COVID-19 cases.

AHS has been in discussions with external organizations about potential partnerships, including the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta, other post-secondary institutions, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and the Canadian Red Cross.

Yiu said AHS is planning for “all scenarios” and the remote hospital plans – for low acuity mobile units – is part of its “ongoing, proactive pandemic response planning.”

The physician registry has been relaunched in partnership with the college, where Alberta doctors enter their availability and willingness to provide care and be redeployed to the pandemic response if needed.

Yiu said AHS is also looking at new models of care, for example, in the ICU. Training programs for people wanting to improve their skills have been expedited over the last few months.

“It is really important for us to make sure quality and safe care continues,” she said. “We are very cognizant that workforce challenges are there.”

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