Hospitalizations hit new high as Alberta battles COVID-19 outbreak

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Health officials are monitoring hospital capacity very closely as COVID-19 cases in Alberta continue to rise, leading the number of hospitalizations to a new high.Between Friday and Monday, 961 new cases were identified in the province. On Tuesday, 243 other people tested positive.

The number of hospitalizations for COVID-19 is now the highest since the start of the pandemic.

According to provincial data, Alberta hit an all-time high on Monday with 102 Albertans hospitalized and 13 of those intensive care patients. On Tuesday, 100 people were hospitalized including 14 in intensive care.

  • Saturday: 98 people in hospital, 13 in ICU.
  • Sunday: 100 people in hospital, 15 in ICU.
  • Monday: 102 people in hospital, 13 in ICU.
  • Mardi: 100 people in hospital, 14 in ICU.

Recent numbers exceed previous highs of 93 hospitalizations in July and 88 in April.

“We have seen an increase in acute care admissions in recent weeks,” Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Tuesday, highlighting the outbreaks at Calgary’s Foothills Medical Center and the Edmonton’s Misericordia Hospital as the main contributors to this increase.

Patients are concentrated in the two major cities of Alberta, with 48 in the Edmonton area, 39 in the Calgary area and the remaining 13 in other parts of the province.

“Forty-one percent of our current COVID hospitalizations are due to acute care outbreaks. We are carefully monitoring our province’s health care system to ensure that hospitalizations and critical care admissions remain within our province’s reach, ”said Hinshaw.

Alberta currently has 70 intensive care beds dedicated to treating COVID-19. As of Tuesday, 14 Albertans were in intensive care.

Number of manageable hospitalizations so far

Doctors are also closely monitoring the number of hospitalizations.

“It’s worrying, of course,” said Dr. Jim Kellner, pediatric infectious disease specialist at the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary.

“Of course, this number is significant and significant. But that doesn’t push our capacity at the hospital. When you look at the initial peak capacity planning at that time, [the province] was seeking to occupy several hundred beds for patients with COVID-19. ”

Kellner says the slow fire that Alberta began to see after the province began to lift restrictions is being replaced by a larger increase in the number of cases. And what happens in the next two to three weeks will be critical.

“The question is, are we still going to be able to maintain this as a slow burn or – to use the other words – are we going to enter a second wave with a steep rise? Or will it be the other scenario coming to a much lower peak that then falls back? ” he said.

Even with the recent spikes, Kellner says Alberta is still doing better than other hard-hit parts of the country.

“Per capita, our hospitalizations have increased, that’s for sure. But the level of hospitalization is still low. If you compare us to some of the other places in Canada – notably in Quebec – our rate of hospitalization and our rate of serious severity, such as death, is even much lower, ”he said.

Meanwhile, Alberta Health Services say they have plans in place to treat a substantial increase in critically ill patients. This includes storing equipment such as fans and having enough trained personnel on site.

“At this point, we are able to meet the current demand for COVID-19 patients within the limits of our usual bed capacity. We have plans in place to increase our intensive care capacity when needed, ”a spokesperson said in an emailed statement to CBC News.

Key triggers

Despite recent spikes, hospitalization rates in Alberta have yet to reach thresholds that would trigger further mandatory restrictions.

One of those triggers is a cumulative increase of five percent or more in hospitalizations over the previous two weeks.

According to Hinshaw, the hospitalization rate in Alberta increased 3.8% during this period.

Another statistic that officials monitor is the capacity of ICU beds. The province said if 50% of the intensive care unit beds allocated to COVID-19 were full, it would lead to further restrictions.

As of Tuesday, 14 of the 70 dedicated ICU beds were full.

« [We are] monitoring these triggers very closely, making sure we are monitoring the ability of our acute care system to handle new cases, ”said Hinshaw.

“And, of course, having put these voluntary measures in place in the Edmonton area – where we see the majority of our new cases right now – as a measure to try to bend that curve so that you don’t end up hitting these. triggers, ideally. ”

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