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Alberta COVID-19 cases decline, no indication yet of spike from Thanksgiving: Kenney

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EDMONTON — Pressure is easing slightly in Alberta hospitals as the province reported another decline in daily COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations on Tuesday.

Premier Jason Kenney said 75 per cent of intensive care beds in the province were occupied by people infected with COVID-19, which is down from 97 per cent reported just over six weeks ago. 

There were 11,400 active cases across Alberta, he added, which is nearly 10,000 fewer than number of infections reported at the peak of the fourth wave on Sept. 26. 

"All of this is good news, but we still have a long way to go," Kenney told a news conference.

"There are still more COVID patients in hospital today than during the peak of any other wave. It'll take many weeks for this to decline significantly."

Alberta reported 12 deaths and 531 new cases of COVID-19. There were 964 people being treated for the infection in hospital, including 218 in intensive care units.

Kenney also said just over 86 per cent of eligible Albertans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 77 per cent are fully vaccinated.

Unlike last Thanksgiving, the premier said, early indications show the number of infections has not spiked after the holiday.

"Although we need to keep watching over the next few days, as it's a little too early to see completely the full impact," he said.

Alberta's chief medical officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, also announced new measures for continuing care facilities that start Monday.

"All visitors will be required to wear a mask in all indoor areas of the building, including in residents' rooms," she said.

All residents must also quarantine after returning from a hospital stay of 24 hours or more until they get a negative COVID-19 test result.

Dr. Verna Yiu, CEO of Alberta Health Services, said staff have started performing some urgent surgeries that were previously cancelled.

"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 ensure that we have adequate ICU capacity should COVID numbers increase again."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 19, 2021.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press