Alberta has reversed an earlier announcement that a 14-year-old died of COVID-19 and will change how it reports COVID-related deaths of minors in the future.
Alberta’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Dina Hinshaw, said preliminary information about the teen’s death changed after a review found that COVID-19 was not the cause.
She said the province’s policy on reporting deaths is to balance the timely issuance of information with accuracy.
“Occasionally, however, as in the case reported on Tuesday, the initial information provided to us has changed after a review,” Hinshaw said Thursday.
“While the initial report of the 14-year-old’s death included COVID as a secondary cause, we have now received additional information that indicates that COVID was not the cause of death.”
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Given the emotional nature of such cases, Hinshaw said COVID-19 deaths of people under the age of 18 would not be reported until the entire review process was completed.
“This incident has caused trouble to many people and I apologize for that,” she said. “We will prioritize accuracy over timeliness in these matters.”
Following Hinshaw’s COVID-19 update on Tuesday, she was accused of underreporting the teen’s death by taking into account the patient’s underlying medical conditions.
Hinshaw said the goal is to provide information to help the public fully understand the nature of COVID-19.
It recorded 916 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, along with 30 more deaths. There were 13,423 active cases in the state.
Alberta Health Services CEO Dr. Verna Yiu said hospitalizations and intensive care patients continued to decline slightly, but the pressure on the hospital system remained high.
There were just over 1,000 patients of COVID-19 in the hospital. There were 282 patients in the ICU, most of whom were suffering from this disease. Alberta normally has 173 critical care beds, but scrambled to create more than double the number of ad hoc spaces.
The ICU capacity was estimated at 76 per cent, up from 90 per cent a month ago.
“We are grateful that the numbers seem to be falling, but we know this trend can easily be reversed, especially if we become complacent,” Yiu said.
“And we are unsure of the potential impact from the Thanksgiving long weekend.”
Alberta has had to cancel thousands of non-urgent surgeries to accommodate a surge of COVID-19 patients.
Yiu said they are slowly working through the backlog as the pressure on intensive care locations eases. But she said there was no timeline for when the surgical schedule could return to normal.
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