Early Indications Suggest Alberta Has Surpassed Peak COVID Cases, Kenney Says

By Isaac Teo
Isaac Teo
Isaac Teo
Isaac Teo is an Epoch Times reporter based in Toronto.
January 21, 2022Updated: January 21, 2022

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says there are early signs that the province has “reached and surpassed” the peak of COVID-19 infections and that cases will likely start to decline.

At a press conference on Jan. 20, Kenney said the “encouraging” news comes from wastewater analyses that suggest lower rates of COVID-19 transmission in many Alberta communities, while current statistics show declining positivity test rates.

“We have seen in those samples and studies that Omicron and COVID-19 are declining in 15 of those 19 communities,” he said of the analyses.

“Most importantly [are] apparently significant declines as of January 16 in Calgary and Edmonton—the two areas that were earliest hit by [the] Omicron wave.”

Kenney added that although the analysis suggests trends of increased transmissions in the remaining four communities, the spread of Omicron has not been consistent throughout the province.

“Let’s recall Omicron did not affect all regions of the province simultaneously, so we can expect to see some regional variances,” the premier said.

Kenney warned that while cases are likely to decline, hospitalizations will continue to increase and put more pressure on an already overwhelmed health system, particularly in Calgary and Edmonton where some hospitals are operating at near capacity.

“Based on the velocity of growth, we do know … there will be a lag between the peak in infections and the peak in hospitalizations,” said Kenney. He estimated there would be a two-week delay that could see an expected 1,500 or more COVID patients in non-intensive care beds. 

On a positive note, Kenney said that since Jan. 10 when the province began differentiating hospitalizations for COVID-19 from incidental COVID-19 (people who have been admitted hospital for other reasons and have tested positive but are asymptomatic), the health-care system has been better able to plan for hospital beds and treatments, even though the incidental cases add to the load.

“Even if a patient who is asymptomatic for COVID, who is an incidental COVID patient, is admitted to hospital and they subsequently test positive, they do need additional treatment protocols, isolation,” he said.

“Staff have a different standard in terms of personal protective equipment so that those cases can add marginally to the pressure of our hospitals.”

As of Jan. 21, Alberta reported that out of the 658 non-intensive care admissions, 37 percent were admitted primarily because of COVID, 17 percent where COVID is a contributing factor, and 46 percent were either incidental or “unable to determine.”

For the 52 patients admitted to intensive care, government data shows 69 percent of cases were due to the virus, whereas 31 percent were either incidental admissions or it is unclear if the virus contributed to them.

To prepare for a swell of hospitalizations, the government said it is building additional bed capacity, maximizing the workforce with nursing students, and opening COVID-19 community clinics.

“Hospitalizations continue to rise, but we have the benefit of seeing how Omicron has played out in other jurisdictions. That is why we are taking decisive action now to help our health-care system respond to the growing demand rising Omicron cases will bring,” said Kenney in a statement on Jan. 20.

The Canadian Press contributed to this report.

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