Additional COVID-19 restrictions will be announced Tuesday morning and the final decisions around what those restrictions will look like are being made this afternoon.
On Monday, Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw had to keep her press briefing short as she was slated to discuss options for more strict measures during the Priorities Implementation Cabinet Committee Meeting.
Hinshaw will be providing recommendations, but the final decisions will be made by government officials. Hinshaw was tight-lipped on her recommendation on Monday when asked by members of the press.
The recommendations come after a weekend of new daily COVID-19 case highs, with 1,336 people diagnosed on Saturday, 1,584 people diagnosed on Sunday and another 1,549 cases on Monday. There are currently 13,166 active cases in Alberta with 101 of the 136 health regions in the province under enhances measures.
Hinshaw said the effectiveness of the new measures being issued Tuesday will not be seen in the COVID-19 case count for two to three weeks and Alberta Health Services will have to manage the increasing number of COVID-19 cases being admitted to the hospitals and ICU, in expense of treating other conditions.
In the past 24 hours, the province ran 19,500 tests with a positivity rate of eight per cent. There are currently outbreaks or alert status at 304 schools, about 13 per cent of schools in the province. In-school transmission occurred 182 times, and 99 of the cases only caused one other COVID-19 case in the school.
There are currently 328 people in the hospital, 62 in ICU. Overnight, there were five new COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total number of Albertans lost to the pandemic up to 476.
“The number of fatalities from this virus is growing,” Hinshaw said.
Contact tracing backlog
Alberta’s COVID-19 cases have increased so quickly that contact tracers have become backlogged and unable to complete contact tracing for all cases.
This means that there has been a slowly growing backlog of cases over the past several weeks who have not yet had a call from AHS to do the case investigation, Hinshaw said.
"To be clear, these have all received notification of their positive result. It is simply the investigation they have not had the opportunity to complete."
Hinshaw said with cases over the past few weeks increasing so much, she has now ordered contact tracers to work backward from the current cases diagnosed as a temporary measure to help maximize the efficiency of the staff. Starting tomorrow, if 10 days have passed since the positive COVID-19 tests, AHS will not be calling that person for an investigation.
“The team has not been able to keep up with the current demand,” Hinshaw said.
“We must focus on looking forward.”
Now, people will be receiving a text message rather than a phone call to provide them with guidance on if and when their isolation period has ended.
Hinshaw asked the public for help in curbing the spread of the virus, by limiting social interactions.
“I need your help and we all need to work together,” Hinshaw said.
“This is a challenging moment but our province is strong and there is hope.”