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Province to only report youth COVID deaths after review process: Hinshaw

“The initial report of the death of the 14-year-old included COVID as a secondary cause. We have now received additional information that indicates COVID was not a cause of death,” said Hinshaw.
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Active COVID-19 cases in St. Albert continue to fall.

Data from the province, current from Oct. 17, shows 12 more people have recovered from the virus. There are 110 active cases of COVID in the city compared to 122 active cases reported on Oct. 14.

One more person has died from the virus, bringing the total number of deaths in St. Albert to 50.

Vaccination rates in St. Albert continue to be higher than the provincial average. In St. Albert 91.4 per cent of those age 12 and up have had at least one dose of the vaccine, while the province is reporting 86 per cent of those age 12 and up have had one dose.

Fully vaccinated St. Albertans make up 86.6 per cent of the population of those age 12 and up, while the provincial average is showing 77.4 per cent of the population age 12 and up as being fully vaccinated.

The seven-day average for the positivity rate is 7.68 per cent.

Provincial COVID rates have also dropped. There are 12,302 active COVID cases compared to the 12,978 reported on Thursday. There are 981 people in the hospital with the virus and of those, 225 people are in ICU.

The province reported 30 more deaths over the weekend for a total of 2,976 people who have died from the virus.

During an Oct. 14 COVID update, chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw apologized for reporting that a 14-year-old with complex pre-existing conditions died from COVID-19 on Oct. 12, when the teen had not.

“The initial report of the death of the 14-year-old included COVID as a secondary cause. We have now received additional information that indicates COVID was not a cause of death,” said Hinshaw.

Hinshaw said the province has an obligation to monitor and report deaths or COVID infections and those need to be timely and transparent. The province always includes deaths that have COVID as the primary or secondary cause, according to health-care teams.

“A primary cause would be someone in whom COVID infection progresses to pneumonia, and this is the direct cause of death.

“A secondary cause could be a case where someone with a severe underlying illness, such as heart failure, gets COVID and the infection makes their pre-existing condition worse, leading to death,” explained Hinshaw.

Hinshaw said the province's reporting process includes people who have COVID listed as both primary and secondary causes as well as people who have a recent diagnosis where the cause of death is still under investigation.

After a death is reported, if there is uncertainty, it is reviewed, and if it is found COVID was not a primary or secondary cause of death, it is removed from the totals.

“Every surveillance system has to balance this tug of war between precision and timeliness. The more precise the reporting is, the slower it is. We have chosen to focus on being as timely as possible in the interests of transparency,” she said.

Going forward, the province will not report on COVID deaths of those under the age of 18 until the review process has been completed.

“We will prioritize accuracy over timeliness,” said Hinshaw.

Hinshaw said reviews are always done in cases of uncertainty and the overall COVID numbers are as accurate as possible.

“The pain of losing a child is terrible enough without having that loss compounded by a public debate about the circumstances. I'm sorry if the way that I spoke about that death made your grief worse since the start of this pandemic.”