Alberta Health reports single-day high of 2,433 new COVID-19 cases

WATCH ABOVE (April 27, 2021): Many vulnerable Alberta children can now be vaccinated. Health Canada has yet to approve the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for 12 to 15-year-olds but Alberta Health has given the green light.

Alberta recorded the highest single-day total of new COVID-19 cases Saturday since the start of the pandemic at 2,433 and one additional death from the disease.

With about 20,457 tests completed, Alberta’s positivity rate was at 12 per cent Saturday.

The active case count now stands at 22,504 across Alberta. Of the active cases across the province, 9,423 are in the Calgary zone, 6,065 are in the Edmonton zone, 3,233 are in the North zone, 2,542 are in the Central zone, 1,165 are in the South zone and 76 are in unknown zones.

Alberta identified 1,743 variant cases of concern on Saturday. Variants now make up 62.1 per cent of active cases of COVID-19 province-wide.

Hospitalizations also continue to increase, with 646 people in hospital with COVID-19 Friday. Of those, 152 are being treated in intensive care.

The reported death was a man in his 70s in the Edmonton zone. Alberta Health said the case had comorbidities.

“Jason Kenney’s policy of acting last and acting least is a terrible failure. Alberta families, businesses, and essential frontline workers are paying the price,” NDP MLA and health critic David Shepherd said in a statement.

“Earlier today, UCP MLA Angela Pitt, the deputy speaker, continued to put Albertans at increased risk by publicly opposing measures that slow the spread of the virus. Once again, Jason Kenney does not have the guts to eject MLAs from his government caucus despite their reckless and dangerous behaviour during a public health emergency.”

Alberta has now administered 1,597,666 doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

READ MORE: COVID-19 vaccinations for meat-plant workers, youths with underlying conditions to start Tuesday

On Saturday, the province announced a change with how parents and guardians of eligible children can book COVID-19 vaccine appointments.

Last week, the province announced children born between 2006 and 2009 with underlying health conditions were eligible for a Pfizer vaccine.

On Saturday morning, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw tweeted that a note from a doctor would no longer be required for eligible children to book an appointment, which was previously the case.

Hinshaw said the change was made based on feedback from parents, family doctors and pediatricians.

Policy change to children eligible for Pfizer vaccine

On April 23, the province approved the Pfizer vaccine for children 12-15 years old with health conditions that put them at great risk for severe outcomes if they were to be infected with COVID-19.

READ MORE: Anyone 50+ can book COVID-19 vaccine Friday as Alberta expands eligibility

Alberta is among the first jurisdictions in the world to make this decision. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has recommended approving Pfizer for teens but Health Canada has yet to do so.

“National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has stated that youths aged 12-15 with a pre-existing health condition are more at risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 than from a COVID-19 vaccine, and would benefit from getting Pfizer vaccine,” Tom McMillan, a spokesperson for Alberta Health, told Global News in an email.

“Pfizer has submitted safety and efficacy data for this age group to Health Canada with an application to expand the age of licensure.”

READ MORE: 2,007 new COVID-19 cases recorded as targeted Alberta restrictions take effect Friday

Children born between 2006 and 2009 who are eligible for the Pfizer vaccine include those who have cancer, chronic heart disease and chronic kidney disease.

Edmonton doctor weighs in on AHS triage document

Doctors have been reacting to Alberta Health Service’s triage plan made public Friday.

According to the critical care triage document put together by Alberta Health Services to manage an overrun of intensive care patients amid the COVID-19 pandemic, health-care workers are to prioritize incoming patients who have the greatest chance of survival.

READ MORE: How will Alberta health-care workers prioritize patients amid an ICU surge?

In Phase 1, health-care workers would use a series of tools to estimate whether someone’s likelihood of death in the ICU and one year after would be 80 per cent or over. If it is, they would be refused admission to the ICU at that time.

In Phase 2, the threshold is over 50 per cent likelihood of death.

Pediatric triage will only be considered in Phase 2, the guidelines say.

An Edmonton doctor said the fact the document is now public makes it clear the province is in a grim situation.

“The fact that we’re here is really a testament, I would say to two things: one is our policy. Our COVID-related policy has been consistently reactive and has also been very weak in terms of implementing measures, so strong measures have not been implemented,” University of Alberta assistant professor Dr. Tehseen Ladha said.

“The other factor is really more philosophical. In some ways, what we’ve done, always done in this province is looking at how we can mitigate COVID or bend the curve rather than eliminate COVID, which other provinces, again, like the Atlantic provinces and other countries have done with much success.”

Ladha said she has been told the document has been in preparation for years but has never been finalized, has never been presented to doctors and medical staff have not been trained to use the protocols.

She believes if further restrictions are not implemented by the province, physicians will have to use the protocols outlined in the document.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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