Alberta child dies from COVID-19, province reports record active cases

Following the holiday break, Alberta broke a new record in documented, active COVID-19 cases.

Tuesday afternoon, Premier Jason Kenney said there were more than 34,000 active cases in the province, which he said was fueled by the Omicron variant.

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Chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said positivity rates between Dec. 31, 2021 and Jan. 3, 2022 had ranged from 28 to 36 per cent. New cases through those days ranged anywhere from 2,000 to 4,570.

Hinshaw has previously said testing numbers don’t represent the entire provincial situation. This was due to a change in testing protocol to focus on health care and high-risk settings.

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She also announced 12 new deaths had been reported since Dec. 28, 2021 — including a child between the age of five to nine with a “complex medical condition.”

Hinshaw said there are currently 436 people in hospital and 61 of those people in ICU.

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Kenney laid out three things Albertans can do to protect themselves: get vaccinated, limit in-person contacts and take rapid tests “when appropriate.” He stopped short of announcing any new public health measures to stem the spread of the highly-transmissible Omicron variant, saying the cabinet committee meets Wednesday.

Hinshaw said she would continue to provide recommendations to that committee.

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The premier said his government is committed to students getting back into classes across the province on Jan. 10, as announced last week by Education Minister Adriana La Grange, and that was not on the cabinet committee agenda.

“We know that in-class transmission has not been a problem,” Kenney said at the Tuesday news conference.

Kenney also called on the federal government to approve Paxlovid, an oral antiviral treatment for COVID-19 that has been approved by the U.S. government.