The pressure in Alberta’s hospitals is easing slightly as the province reported another drop in daily COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations on Tuesday.
Premier Jason Kenney said 75 percent of intensive care beds in the province were occupied by people infected with COVID-19, down from the 97 percent reported six weeks ago.
Alberta had 11,400 active cases, he said, which is about 10,000 fewer than the number of infections reported at the peak of the fourth wave on September 26.
“It’s all good news, but we still have a long way to go,” Kenny said at a news conference.
“There are more COVID patients in hospital today than during the peak of any other wave. It will take several weeks for it to drop significantly.”
Alberta reported 12 deaths and 531 new cases of COVID-19. 964 people were being treated for the infection in the hospital, including 218 in intensive care units.
Kenny also said that more than 86 percent of eligible Albertans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 77 percent are fully vaccinated.
Unlike last Thanksgiving, the premier said, early signs suggest that the number of infections has not increased after the holiday.
“However, we need to keep an eye out for the next few days as it is still a little early to see the full effect,” he added.
Alberta’s chief medical officer, Dr. Dina Hinshaw, also announced new measures for continuing care facilities beginning Monday.
“All visitors will be required to wear masks in all indoor areas of the building, including the rooms of residents,” she said.
All residents must quarantine even after a hospital stay of 24 hours or more, unless they receive a negative COVID-19 test result.
Dr. Verna Yiu, CEO of Alberta Health Services, said staff began to perform some urgent surgeries that had previously been canceled.
“We are now gradually increasing that volume so that our teams can perform urgent surgeries that need to be done within a 42-day window,” she said.
“It’s a fine balance and we must make sure we have enough ICU capacity in case the COVID numbers rise again.”
This story was produced with financial support from Facebook and the Canadian Press News Fellowship.