Chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday that the province may be rounding the corner in the fight against COVID-19. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday that the province may be rounding the corner in the fight against COVID-19. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)

Red Deer adds one new COVID-19 death

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw believes that Alberta is turning a corner in its fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a press conference Thursday, Hinshaw said there were 2,370 new cases of the virus, with 7,338 lab-confirmed tests, for a 34 per cent positivity.

Alberta has 1,584 people in hospital infected with COVID-19, including 112 in the ICU. There were also 15 new deaths reported Thursday due to the implications of COVID-19, bringing the death toll to 3,608. Two of the new deaths were in Central zone.

Red Deer has 923 active cases of COVID-19, up slightly from Wednesday’s 914. The city has had 12,642 total confirmed cases to date, with 11,632 recovered and 87 deaths due to the implications of COVID-19 — including one new death reported Thursday.

“Our data is indicating we are likely turning a corner with this fifth wave. While this is encouraging news, there are steps we need to continue to take to protect ourselves and each other,” Hinshaw said while adding the province’s acute care system is still under significant strain.

She cautioned that even as the province moves past the peak of the Omicron wave, COVID-19 will still have an impact on Albertans’ daily lives for some time.

Other jurisdictions that have fewer hospitalizations than Alberta are talking about the move to an endemic stage and a different way to manage the virus.

“COVID will not go away, it will continue to have impacts on our acute care systems, that will rise and fall with seasonality and new variants that may emerge,” Hinshaw said.

“We cannot prevent all negative outcomes from COVID and we must be ready to respond to new information. What has been important throughout our COVID response is seeking a balance between the harms of COVID and the harms of the measures needed to prevent an overwhelming surge of severe outcomes…

“Our acute care system is still under strain today and we need to continue to protect it and by extension, all of us.”

Hinshaw also announced that starting Thursday, asymptomatic, unvaccinated household close contacts of confirmed cases will only have to quarantine for 10 days after exposure, instead of the current recommendation of 14 days.

“(This) aligns with data showing the incubation period for Omicron is shorter than previous variants,” Hinshaw said.

In the Central zone, there were 3,633 active COVID-19 cases on Thursday, with 165 people in hospital and seven in intensive care. To date, 444 people have died in the local zone due to implications of COVID-19.

According to geospatial mapping on the provincial government’s website Red Deer County had 236 active cases Thursday, Lacombe County had 137, City of Lacombe had 137, Mountain View County had 102, Clearwater County and Sylvan Lake each had 101, Stettler County had 81 active cases and Olds had 66.

The City of Camrose had 147, Kneehill County had 93, Camrose County had 44 and Drumheller had 84.

On the local geographic area setting, Wetaskiwin County, including Maskwacis, had 642 active cases, while Ponoka, including East Ponoka County, had 161 and Rimbey, including West Ponoka County and part of Lacombe County, had 38.