EDITOR’S NOTE: Throughout the pandemic, case counts have been based on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing done by provincial bodies like Alberta Health Services, but those testing protocols have shifted to prioritize high-priority groups and people in higher risk settings. In Alberta there is no system for cataloguing at-home rapid antigen tests, meaning many people with COVID-19 aren’t reflected in the data.
As a result, CBC News will de-emphasize case counts in our coverage, in favour of data and metrics that experts now say are more illuminating — including hospitalizations and wastewater monitoring.
- The last remaining COVID-19 public health restrictions in Alberta are coming to end, Health Minister Jason Copping said in a statement on June 13.
- As of 11:59 p.m. June 14, the Alberta government will lift the province’s remaining COVID-19 restrictions, meaning mandatory masking on public transit will come to an end, as will mandatory isolation.
- Though not required, isolation will remain recommended for those who have COVID symptoms or a positive test result.
- Saskatchewan and Manitoba have already lifted self-isolation requirements.
- Public health indicators suggest Alberta has passed the sixth wave of COVID-19, spurred mainly by the Omicron BA.2 subvariant, Health Minister Jason Copping said on June 9.
- Hospital and intensive care unit admissions have been declining for weeks. New case counts and the seven-day PCR test-positivity rate have also been dropping. “We are past this wave and in a period of declining transmission,” Copping said during a COVID-19 update on June 9. “Barring the arrival of any new variant or subvariant that behaves differently, we expect to see low transmission rates through the summer, especially as more activities move outside.”
- As of the end of the day on June 6, 816 people were in hospital with COVID-19, down from 931 people last week, officials said in an update on June 8.
- 24 people were in intensive care, down from 29 last week.
- 42 new COVID deaths were reported between May 31 and June 6. A total of 4,597 Albertans have died of the disease.
- There were 1,840 new COVID cases reported out of 12,230 tests. The case count includes only those who test positive on a PCR test, which most Albertans can’t access.
- Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said in a news conference on June 9 that PCR test positivity ranged from 13.1 to 17.1 per cent between May 31 and June 6, with an average of 15.1 per cent for the week.
- Copping said that as of May 26, Evusheld, a drug that could prevent people with weakened immune systems from getting COVID-19 is available for eligible Albertans.
- As of May 4, the province is now allowing community providers, such as family physicians, to prescribe Paxlovid to those eligible for the COVID-19 treatment. A positive rapid test will now be accepted to confirm COVID-19 infection in order to prescribe Paxlovid.
- The eligibility list for Paxlovid now includes all Albertans 60 and up — and Indigenous people 50 and up — with 2 doses or less of vaccine and at least one pre-existing condition. Also added are Albertans 70 and up — and Indigenous people 60 and older — with three or fewer doses and two or more pre-existing conditions.
- Alberta data from a dashboard created by the University of Calgary Centre for Health Informatics shows the average amount of COVID-19 detected in wastewater. The data is updated publicly three times a week on the dashboard.
- Copping says wastewater levels in Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer are well past their peaks, but continue to show high levels of virus are circulating.
- The virus is shed in peoples’ feces before symptoms arise, so values in the data associate strongest with cases occurring six days after the samples are collected.
- A note on reading wastewater charts: Numbers taken from different wastewater treatment facilities use different testing and collection methods. Because of this, comparisons across cities cannot be made directly and one should assess only the trends. For example, there is an upward trend in the readings in both Edmonton and Calgary, but one cannot say whether levels are higher in one city or the other.
The latest on restrictions:
- Nearly all pandemic public health measures were lifted in the province as of March 1, as the Alberta government launched Step 2 of its reopening plan.
- This phase removes indoor masking, remaining school requirements, youth screening for entertainment and sports, removal of capacity limits on all large venues and entertainment venues, limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings lifted and mandatory work from home lifted.
- Masking is still required in high-risk settings including Alberta Health Services-operated and contracted facilities, all continuing care settings, and on municipal transit services. The rule does not cover private services such as taxis or Uber trips.
- As of Feb. 14, there are no masking requirements for children and youth 12 years old and younger and no masking requirements for children and youth in schools for any age.
- Stage 1 took effect Feb. 16 and removed the restrictions exemption program.
- Premier Jason Kenney says the province is working toward a third stage, which does not have a date, where people would no longer be required to isolate if they have COVID-19, and COVID operational and outbreak protocols will be lifted in continuing care facilities.
- Copping said the stages are all conditions-based approaches, based on hospitalization trends.
- According to Alberta Health, 77.2 per cent of the province’s population — or 87.1 per cent of those older than 12 — have received two doses of a COVID vaccine.
- As of April 12, all Albertans age 70 and older, First Nations, Métis and Inuit people in Alberta age 65 and older, and all seniors in congregate care can receive a fourth dose of vaccine.
- Albertans 12 to 17 are eligible for their third dose of COVID-19 vaccine if it has been five months since their second dose.
- Children from six to 11 have the option of getting the Moderna vaccine as of April 12.
Hospitalizations by region:
As of end of day on June 6, there were 816 Albertans in hospital with COVID.
- Calgary zone: 323.
- Edmonton zone: 270.
- Central zone: 105.
- North zone: 70.
- South zone: 48.
Here are the latest Alberta COVID-19 stories: