Alberta is ending regularly scheduled COVID-19 updates

There will be no more regularly scheduled COVID-19 press conferences, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health said Wednesday.

The severity of the Omicron wave has been slowly decreasing for weeks. The provincial government changed their COVID-19 updates with Dr. Deena Hinshaw and Health Secretary Jason Copping from weekly to bi-weekly.

During Wednesday’s press conference, Hinshaw announced that this would be the last regularly scheduled COVID update.

“We remain committed to communicating important public health information transparently and will of course provide updates as needed,” she said.

Alberta Health will continue to update public COVID-19 data each week, she said.

Upcoming changes in how public health officials monitor COVID-19 to make things more sustainable will impact the public data dashboard later this summer, Hinshaw said.

In the fall, Alberta Health will amend its COVID reporting to match that of its influenza dashboard and show how the two respiratory diseases are spreading, she added.

The cessation of regular personal updates is part of that transition, Hinshaw said.

“We are entering a phase of the pandemic where our response can be de-escalated while we remain vigilant and prepared to respond to emerging variants that could trigger another wave of cases and hospitalizations,” Copping said Wednesday.

Last week, Alberta lifted mandatory public health restrictions, with the exception of some measures at Alberta Health Service facilities and other healthcare facilities.

Public health orders for continuous care facilities will be lifted June 30, Copping said, but protection guidelines will remain in place as part of operating standards.

Alberta Health Services will monitor outbreaks in higher-risk environments and respond as needed, he said.

Mask requirements in healthcare facilities in Alberta have transitioned from a provincial rule to an organizational policy. (Radio Canada)

Later this summer, some AHS testing sites will be converted to swab sites that will be integrated with other services, Copping said.

Hinshaw noted that living with COVID-19 does not mean it will go away, but that the province has tools in place to lift public health restrictions.

COVID-19 vaccines are one of those tools, she added. Hinshaw encouraged Albertans to get their first doses of vaccine (if they haven’t already) and booster doses if they are eligible.

13 more Albertans die from COVID-19

Alberta public health officials identified 13 more COVID-19 deaths from June 14-20, the most recent reporting week.

A total of 4,604 Albertans have now died from the disease since the pandemic began.

Meanwhile, fewer Albertans were hospitalized with COVID-19 than in the previous reporting week.

As of Monday, 661 people were being treated in hospital, including 17 patients being treated in intensive care.

A week ago, there were 719 hospital admissions, including 19 patients in intensive care.

The seven-day PCR test positivity rate fell to 12.32 percent in the most recent reporting week. Last week, the 7-day test positivity rate was about 13.2 percent.

In the last reporting week, 1,086 new COVID-19 cases were identified by PCR testing – almost 400 fewer than the previous week.

Of Alberta’s entire population, including those who are not eligible, 77.3 percent of people have two doses of COVID-19 vaccine; 81.5 percent of the population has at least one dose.

Another case of monkeypox was identified

A new case of monkeypox has been reported in Alberta, Hinshaw said.

The person is an adult and linked to another case of monkeypox that was reported outside of the province, she said, adding that the risk of infection in Alberta is low.

A total of five cases have now been found in Alberta. all from the Calgary and Edmonton health zones, she said.

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