The sharp rise in COVID-19 cases over recent weeks should act as a “wake-up call” for Alberta, said the province’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw.
On Thursday, Hinshaw announced 114 new cases of COVID-19, marking the seventh day of the past eight that officials have announced at least 100 cases. Before the recent stretch, the province hadn’t recorded a triple-digit daily case increase since May 1.
“This needs to be a wake-up call,” Hinshaw said. “I am very concerned by these numbers.”
As of July 23, there are 1,293 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, compared to the 590 there were on July 9, according to Alberta Health Services.
Of the currently active cases, there are now 106 patients in hospital, which includes 21 in intensive care — both near record-highs for Alberta. The province hit its peak with 113 overall hospital admissions on April 30, and 23 ICU admissions on May 1.
Of those in hospital, 24 are under the age of 60, and seven are under 40, said Hinshaw. One out of 50 cases between 30-39 has needed to be admitted to hospital. Among those 40-69, it’s one out of every 20. Of those in their 70s, one out every 10 have died, along with one of every four among those patients at least 80 years old.
“I believe the recent increase in numbers is in part reflective of the fact that fatigue has set in,” Hinshaw said. “After several months of not catching the virus, it is easy to say that you feel fine, so why wash your hands? Why stay two metres apart in public? Why avoid sharing food at a barbecue?”
Hinshaw urged Albertans throughout the province to adhere to best practices, in order to have the virus better under control by early August. Cases have been spreading all throughout the province, said Hinshaw, such as in the Central zone, which has not seen high case numbers so far, but now has 33 patients in hospital, seven of them in the ICU.
Of the 1,293 active cases, the Calgary zone has 666 of them and 20 patients in hospital, while the Edmonton zone has 232 and 30, respectively, which includes 14 patients at Misericordia Community Hospital in connection to the outbreak.
“Surviving this virus can still be awful and life changing,” said Hinshaw, noting that research has shown that some patients can face a higher risk of diabetes and permanent lung damage after their infection. “For the sake of our families and communities, we need to act each day as though everyone we spend time with has the virus. Even among friends, and even if you feel perfectly healthy.”
Throughout the pandemic, Alberta has had 9,975 cases of COVID-19. That includes 176 victims, after two more were announced Thursday. Among those total cases, there are 8,506 people who have recovered from the virus, up by 70 since Tuesday.
To date, 614,692 people have been tested in Alberta, which includes the 8,222 tests that were administered in the province’s latest 24-hour stretch.
As Alberta continues to try and limit the spread of infection, Hinshaw wants people to continue to learn from the experiences of others who have battled the virus, and adhere to public health restrictions.
“We are all tired of COVID-19, but this virus doesn’t care. We have no choice but to learn how to live with it,” said Hinshaw.
“I think what we need to do right now is to make sure that people understand the guidance is not a list of suggestions that can be disregarded if they are inconvenient … The message is clear.”