Alberta surpasses 20,000 active COVID-19 cases, Hinshaw ‘more concerned than ever before’

EDMONTON — The COVID-19 restrictions announced two weeks ago are not bending the curve, but the situation would be even worse without them, Alberta’s top doctor said Monday.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported 16 deaths and 1,735 coronavirus cases, bringing Alberta’s active count to just over 20,000 — the highest in Canada.

More than 600 Albertans diagnosed with COVID-19 are in hospital, with 108 of them in intensive care.

“I will be blunt: So far, we are not bending the curve back down,” Hinshaw said. “We’re still witnessing very high transmission of the virus, which is putting enormous pressure on our hospitals, intensive care units and health-care workers.”

Premier Jason Kenney announced restrictions banning indoor gatherings and reducing capacity at businesses nearly two weeks ago, on Nov. 24.

With cases and hospitalizations still on the rise, Dr. Hinshaw admitted the measures have not curbed COVID-19 enough.

“I believe that all of those restrictions have put us in a better position than we would have been had we not introduced those restrictions,” she said, but “it’s currently looking like the measures that were put in place two weeks ago are unlikely to be sufficient to bend the curve downwards.”

The mayors of Edmonton and Calgary — whose cities have 7,435 and 6,373 infections, respectively — said their councils might take matters into their own hands if the province doesn’t implement stricter rules.

On Monday, Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi revealed Hinshaw was in talks with government officials to make more recommendations.

“I suspect that we will hear good things out of today’s cabinet meeting in terms of what needs to be done,” he said. “But if we don’t, then we will have to move forward on our own. That’ll be a decision for council.”

Edmonton will hold a “Special City Council” meeting Tuesday morning, where officials will discuss the possibility of non-essential business closures, like restaurants, bars and casinos.

Hinshaw will give another pandemic update Tuesday afternoon.

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