Declining case numbers show Alberta restrictions working, Dr. Deena Hinshaw says

Declining numbers of cases and positive tests for COVID-19 in Alberta show that restrictions put in place last year have been effective, the province’s top doctor says.

Alberta reported 21 more COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday and 669 new cases of the illness.

Laboratories conducted about 14,900 tests over the past 24 hours putting the positivity rate at about 4.5 per cent.

“It’s very encouraging to see our positivity rate steadily declining since the peak in December,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said Wednesday at a news conference. 

“And I would say that the data that we have indicates that the restrictions put in place in November and December have achieved, so far, their intended outcome.”

It’s critical that the province maintain enough restrictions to continue to drive those numbers down, Hinshaw said, given the high number of people still being treated in hospitals.

“We need to build on our collective success by going slowly toward allowing some additional activities and not experiencing a rebound if we open too quickly,” she said.

Hospitalizations remain high

Hospitals in the province are treating 744 patients for the disease, including 124 in ICU beds.

“It is important to remember that it is the number of people currently in hospital that I am providing, not all those who have ever needed hospital care since the spring,” Hinshaw said.

“To put this into context, over the last 10 years, we have had an average of just over 1,500 total hospital admissions for influenza annually. For COVID-19, the comparable number comes from less than a year of data. More than 5,000 people have needed hospital care since the pandemic began for COVID-19 in Alberta.”

A total of 5,086 people with COVID-19 have been treated in hospitals since the pandemic began last March.

That represents about 4.3 per cent of the total cases, which now sits at 118,436.

Of those, 106,387 were listed as recovered and 10,565 were active. 

Of the patients hospitalized with the illness so far, 816 have ended up in ICU beds.

Far greater toll on older people

Slightly more than one per cent of all people infected have died.

Alberta Health data shows the illness has taken a far greater toll on older people. To date, 1,265 of the 1,484 reported deaths (85 per cent) have been people aged 70 and older.

A total of 109,089 people under the age of 70 have contracted the illness. In all, 218 of them have died, a rate of .0.19 per cent.

To date, 9,347 people aged 70 or older have become sick. In all, 1,265 of them have died, a rate of 13.5 per cent.

Older people also have a much higher chance of ending up in hospital. Those in their 20s who contract the illness have about a one in 100 chance of being hospitalized. Those aged 60 and older have about one in six chance.

Here’s a breakdown by age of those who have been infected, and those who had symptoms serious enough to require hospitalization.

  • Under one, 644 cases, 34 hospitalized, 10 in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 5.3 per cent)
  • one to four, 3,671 cases, 14 hospitalized, two in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 0.4 per cent)
  • five to nine, 5,094 cases, eight hospitalized, two in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 0.2 per cent)
  • 10 to 19, 13,606 cases, 68 hospitalized, nine in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 0.5 per cent)
  • 20 to 29, 22,025 cases, 241 hospitalized, 25 in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 1.1 per cent)
  • 30 to 39, 22,470 cases, 388 hospitalized, 40 in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 1.7 per cent)
  • 40 to 49, 18,678 cases, 489 hospitalized, 92 in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 2.6 per cent)
  • 50 to 59, 14,075 cases, 721 hospitalized, 164 in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 5.1 per cent)
  • 60 to 69, 8,788 cases, 879 hospitalized, 239 in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 10.0 per cent)
  • 70 to 79, 4,370 cases, 952 hospitalized, 172 in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 21.8 per cent)
  • 80+, 4,977 cases, 1,291 hospitalized, 60 in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 25.9 per cent)

A total of 95,243 doses of vaccine have been administered in the province.

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