Province reports record-breaking 6,789 new COVID cases

  • Edmonton Journal
  • 13 Jan 2022

Alberta broke another record for the number of new COVID -19 cases reported in one day as hospitalizations and deaths continue to climb.

On Wednesday, the province identified 6,789 new cases of COVID -19, bringing the total number of active cases in Alberta to 61,229, which works out to 2,616 more cases than the day before.

Alberta also reported 748 patients hospitalized with the disease — 40 more than reported Tuesday — including 82 in intensive care while another 15 people died of COVID-19, raising the province’s death toll to 3,367.

In a series of tweets Wednesday, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, stressed the importance of reserving emergency room visits for urgent medical treatment while noting that exposure to an ER does not qualify someone for a PCR test under new provincial rules.

With the province’s test positivity rate hovering near 40 per cent, Hinshaw said Albertans should assume that the province is seeing at least 10 times more cases than it’s identifying with PCR tests, which have also been limited to certain groups due to increased strain on diagnostic capacity caused by spread of the highly infectious Omicron variant.

Since the province can’t manage this latest wave of infections with widespread PCR testing as it has in the past, Hinshaw has advised Albertans with mild COVID-19 symptoms to use rapid tests if available to confirm infection and isolate accordingly.

However, high demand for rapid tests and low supply due to delivery delays have left some Albertans scrambling to confirm whether or not they’ve been infected with the virus causing COVID-19.

In his own series of tweets Wednesday, Health Minister Jason Copping said the 16.25 million rapid tests Ottawa earmarked for Alberta have no firm delivery dates, and the province has so far only received 500,000 tests in January despite its commitment to supply schools with millions of tests by the end of the month.

“As of Jan. 11, we’ve shipped nearly 1.7 million rapid tests to schools, about 40 per cent of the initial commitment of 4.3 million tests for this week,” Copping said. “We’re working to confirm delivery of the remainder by the end of the week from the federal government and/or from our own supply.”

“Alberta has shipped nearly all tests it has received from the federal government to date,” he added, and with another 4.3 million tests promised to schools for the week of Jan. 24, the province has “directly procured” almost 14 million tests.

“The first one million have been delivered, but we’re encountering delays from our suppliers as well due to the pressure on the global supply chain,” he said, adding the province is also expecting another 4.8 million tests this week intended for schools and health-care workers.

Copping also noted Alberta pharmacies and Alberta Health Service locations have received five million tests for Albertans to access through the province’s rapid test program.

According to Alberta Blue Cross, which manages an interactive map indicating the location of available rapid tests, participating pharmacies are out of stock. However, the organization added, Alberta Health said more tests should be available to ship to pharmacies in the week of Jan. 17.