We have confirmed 154 new cases of COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, bringing the provincial total to 4,850. Of the total cases, we suspect 524 cases may be the result of community transmission, 202 have been hospitalized and 47 have been in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Currently, there are 82 cases in hospital, with 21 in an ICU. 1,800 cases have now recovered.
It is with heavy hearts that we report the sad news of five additional deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the provincial total to 80 lives lost in Alberta related to COVID-19. AHS extends its deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of these individuals, who are grieving these losses in exceptionally difficult circumstances.
3,239 tests were completed over the last 24 hours, bringing our total COVID-19 tests to 138,681 since the start of the pandemic.
Today, Alberta Health Services recognizes the National Day of Mourning – a day to remember our colleagues who have been injured, disabled or lost their lives on the job. Flags at our facilities are flying at half-mast in their honour.
In these unprecedented times, the importance of safety — one of our core values — is even more of a priority for us all. This day reminds us to speak up and work together to prevent injury, illness and death in the workplace.
Today, the government provided updated modelling scenarios to better predict the impact of COVID-19 in Alberta, which include a new “low” modelling scenario estimating 298 Albertans will require hospitalization, and 95 will require critical care when the virus reaches its peak. If current trends continue, this scenario will become the most likely scenario for Alberta.
Updated modelling scenarios continue to estimate that Alberta’s outbreak will reach its peak in late May. However, the number of Albertans hospitalized at the peak of the virus is predicted to be lower than originally estimated. This reflects Alberta’s experience over the past few weeks and the proportion of cases actually entering hospital and intensive care units. More information about the predicted modelling is available here.
These figures show that the efforts of Albertans to adhere to public health guidelines are making a critical difference in the fight against COVID-19. We want to emphasize that the forecasts shared today are positive news, as we start to see the results from the collective sacrifices we’ve been making. But we must remember, this fight is far from over. Modelling is hypothetical and based on predictions. None of the scenarios presented is guaranteed; best case outcomes require us to remain vigilant, so we don’t see dangerous spikes in cases.
As Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, explained today, the models often give a sense of a defined peak on a line that travels up and down. The reality is that as we’ve slowed the spread, we’ve flattened the line, as hoped. It means we are lowering rates of infection and creating more of a steady line. This virus will be with us for months to come, until we have vaccines to prevent it. Until then, ideally, we can continue in a steady state to keep infection rates low, to help the health system manage the demand and to protect the most vulnerable in our province.
Healthcare Worker Online Assessment Tool Update
Effective today, asymptomatic healthcare staff working at long-term care and supportive living facilities, currently under COVID-19 outbreak declarations, can now access referral to testing for COVID-19, through the Healthcare Worker online self-assessment tool at ahs.ca/covid.
This same tool is already being used by any healthcare worker with symptoms of COVID-19. The new prompt within the tool will ensure that workers at long-term care and licensed supportive living facilities (including lodges) with active COVID-19 outbreaks can be tested before they experience symptoms, potentially further reducing risk of asymptomatic transmission.
This addition is in alignment with Chief Medical Officer of Health’s requirements for asymptomatic testing of both staff and residents at long-term and supportive living facilities under outbreak.
Asymptomatic Swabbing Guidelines
At the direction of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, from April 23, 2020, once either a resident or staff member tests positive and has a confirmed case of COVID-19 in any licensed supportive living setting, including lodges, or long-term care sites, there is a requirement to offer swabbing to all asymptomatic residents for COVID-19 on the affected unit(s). A guidance document has been created and emailed to all operators. It will also be available on the Continuing Care Connection site and ahs.ca/covid.
Within the document, the process to follow is outlined for all facilities. Of particular note:
We recognize that each zone has identified processes to either expand the number and type of staff available to assist with swabbing, or to provide the swabbing required, depending on the size of the outbreak and implications for staffing.
Visitor Restrictions Update
Throughout the pandemic, AHS has been taking steps to restrict visitors to protect our patients and residents, who are at greater risk of severe illness. When we made the difficult decision to implement a no visitor policy in all AHS sites, we recognized that there are special circumstances where visitors are essential to the well-being and care of certain patients. To this end, we have updated the current visitor guidance to clarify exceptions to visitor restrictions in situations where visitation is essential for care and support of patients with specific challenges, in end of life situations, and in specific acute care or outpatient settings. We have also provided further guidance around decision-making for end of life visitation.
We will continue to verify and screen all visitors permitted under these updated exceptions prior to entering the facility. Visitor guidelines may also be updated in the future to reflect our continued engagement with the Health Advisory Councils, the Provincial Advisory Councils, the Patient and Family Advisory Council and Indigenous Health.
Thank you for your continued commitment to a safe and healthy work place.
Please watch this video message acknowledging the National Day of Mourning, from Todd Gilchrist, AHS Vice President, People.
Please watch this video message to hear the Canadian Health Officials April 29, 2020, COVID-19 update.