Alberta reports 16 deaths, 13,349 active cases with new restrictions looming

Alberta rolled out new restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19 on Tuesday as the province reported 16 more deaths.

With the pandemic raging, the province reported 13,349 active cases of the disease, by far the highest number yet.

Across Alberta, 348 were being treated in hospitals for the illness, including 66 in ICU beds.

An announcement on new measures intended to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Alberta was expected Tuesday afternoon.

Premier Jason Kenney, Health Minister Tyler Shandro, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw and Dr. Verna Yiu, CEO of Alberta Health Services, will be at today’s COVID-19 briefing to provide an update on the pandemic and the province’s response.

The news conference has been scheduled for 4:30 p.m. MT. You can watch the briefing here.

In a noon-hour tweet Tuesday, Kenney confirmed that he, Hinshaw and Shandro will announce new measures “that will help Alberta slow the spread” of COVID-19.

“We must act together to stop the spike, protecting both lives and livelihoods,” Kenney wrote. 

Albertans have been bracing for new restrictions, as cases continue to surge rapidly.

As of Monday, the province had 13,166 active cases, more than any other province in Canada. In her briefing Monday, Hinshaw warned that cases are escalating out of control.

‘Like a snowball’

“This is like a snowball rolling down a hill, growing bigger and faster, and it will continue unless we implement strong measures to stop [it]. We must take action,” Hinshaw said Monday.

“Waiting any longer will impact our ability to care for Albertans in the weeks and months ahead.”

Hinshaw cut Monday’s briefing short to meet with Premier Jason Kenney and the priorities implementation cabinet committee to discuss recommendations to reduce the caseload.

Alberta reported 1,549 new COVID-19 cases on Monday. It was the fifth consecutive day with numbers above the 1,100 mark. There were 328 patients in hospital, 62 of them in intensive care. The death toll stood at 476.

Daily caseloads have more than doubled in recent weeks. In the first week of November, there were just under 600 new cases a day.

On Sunday, Alberta led the entire country with 1,584 new cases, despite having a fraction of the population of Ontario and Quebec. Front-line doctors and epidemiologists have called for a shutdown of businesses and activities to reverse the trend.

On Saturday, in a Zoom call with the Canada India Foundation, Kenney said new health restrictions are likely to come but he continued to reject a sweeping shutdown as intrusive and ineffective.

“We will likely have to take some more restrictive measures, given the current direction of things here. Because, ultimately, our goal is to protect the health-care system from being overwhelmed while minimizing damage to the broader social, economic, mental, emotional and physical health of society,” he said.

“We are not exclusively focused on COVID-19. We understand that for every policy in response to it, there are unintended consequences, so we’ve taken a holistic approach, and we believe that that has been effective.”

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