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COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to decline

The peak of the BA.2 cases has passed in Alberta and the current wave is receding, says Alberta Health Minister Jason Copping
MVT stock COVID-19

Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 continued to decline in the province over the past week, said Alberta Health Minister Jason Copping.

“The peak of the BA.2 cases has passed and the current wave is receding,” Copping said during Wednesday’s weekly COVID-19 update news conference. “That is good news, especially for the people working in our health-care system. Positivity rates have been decreasing for the past month, indicating that there is less transmission.

“And wastewater (monitoring) levels are trending down across the province. There is still lots of COVID around, especially in Edmonton and Calgary, and we can’t expect it to go to zero.”

Hospitalization rates due to COVID in smaller sites have dropped faster in recent days than in larger centres, he noted.

Between May 17 and May 23, an average of 1,040 people were in hospital with COVID-19, including an average of 31 in intensive care units.

Fifty-five people died from COVID-19 in Alberta over the past week.

The province’s PCR testing rate during the reporting period was 17.5 per cent, down from 19.9 per cent the previous week.

By way of comparison, between May 10 and May 16 the daily average number of people being treated for COVID-19 in hospital was 1,190 and 55 people died during that reporting period.

“COVID remains a real risk, especially to those who are un-vaccinated or under-vaccinated,” he said.

Dr. Deana Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, also took part in Wednesday’s press conference. 

Two emerging sub-variants of Omicron (BA.4 and BA.5) have been receiving attention internationally in recent days, she said.

“Both of these have been identified in several other countries around the world,” she said. “Available evidence suggests these sub-variants are more transmissible than earlier versions, which means they can spread more easily once they are in a community.

“That said, at this time neither of these sub-variants appear to cause an increase risk of severe illness. We identified our first case of BA.4 this past week through our ongoing surveillance.” 

Starting immediately the province will be holding COVID-19 update press conferences every two weeks, instead of once a week, with the next update scheduled for June 7. Updated COVID data will continue to be provided weekly, said Copping.

David Shepherd, NDP health critic, made a statement in response to the announcement that COVID-19 updates will now be provided every two weeks. 

“Today I called on the Health Minister to provide more information to Albertans in the midst of a healthcare crisis,” said Shepherd. “Instead of providing more transparency to Albertans, he will be giving less information by only providing public updates once every two weeks.  

“The crisis in healthcare is no longer just about COVID-19. Thanks to the UCP’s mismanagement and war on healthcare workers, it’s spread to every corner of the system. Albertans deserve more, not less, transparency and accountability about how the UCP will address the problems they’ve made so much worse, including the doctor shortage, crisis in EMS, and cancelled and diverted surgeries across the province.”