By Justin Seward
Alberta Health released its COVID-19 modelling projections last week and it indicates the total range of infection is from 800,000 to one million.
The infection range is from mild and undiagnosed to detected, confirmed and treated under two provincial scenarios.
The provincial government is advising that existing public health orders could be in place until the end of May to protect the health and safety of Albertans.
The two scenarios that were addressed were “probable” and “elevated” scenario.
A “probable” scenario includes for every case, one to two more are infected. The government compared this scenario to more moderate growth of the United Kingdom and other countries that have had success in “containing” growth.
With the province’s early and aggressive interventions and contact tracing to limit the spread, this the likely scenario for Alberta.
The elevated scenario would see for every case, two people would be infected. This scenario is comparable to the more rapid growth seen in Hubei.
Planning for this scenario is prudent and responsible given the catastrophic impacts should the health system become overwhelmed.
“I know these numbers can be overwhelming. But these models are not a done deal. I want Albertans to see them as a challenge. Perhaps the greatest challenge of our generation. The modeling helps us anticipate and prepare for the demands on Alberta’s health-care system so we can ensure we are prepared to support patients at the peak of the pandemic and beyond,” said Premier Jason Kenney.
Both scenarios estimate that when the virus hit its peak that cases will start to decline in the summer months.
However with out any provincial intervention to manage the pandemic response, the projections showed that 13,000 could have been hospitalized and 3,900 requiring intensive care.
“COVID-19 presents an unprecedented challenge to our healthcare system. Our government has taken and continues to take aggressive measures to make sure the health-care system is ready,” said Minister of Health Tyler Shandro.
The modelling helped the province anticipate and prepare for the demands on Alberta’s health-care system. Alberta has been scaling up the capacity of province’s health care system by expanding the capacity, opening up more acute care beds, intensive care unit spaces, and ventilators.
“We are actively increasing capacity in Alberta Health Services facilities by postponing non-urgent surgeries and diagnostic imaging, reducing a number of non-emergency services offered in hospitals, relocating patients to continuing care spaces where possible, and enhancing the use of videoconferencing and telephone care to connect physicians and health professionals with patients remotely. With these measures, and because of the hard work of our front-line health-care workers – our nurses, doctors and those who support them – we are well-positioned to manage the probable impacts of COVID-19 in the coming months, “ saidDr. Verna Yiu, president and CEO, Alberta Health Services
The model uses several key assumptions, including:
• not all cases are detected
• transmission is more common within an age group, rather than between age groups
• there is no asymptomatic transmission
• people are infectious for five to 10 days
• all ICU patients require ventilation
• overall 14 per cent of cases are hospitalized and 5 per cent require ICU, but this varies significantly by age
All Albertans have a responsibility to help prevent the spread. Take steps to protect yourself and others:
• Practise social distancing.
• Stay home and away from others if sick or in mandatory self-isolation.
• Practise good hygiene – wash hands often for at least 20 seconds, cover coughs and sneezes, and avoid touching your face.
• Monitor for symptoms, such as cough, fever, fatigue or difficulty breathing.
Anyone who has health concerns or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should complete an online COVID-19 self-assessment.
For recommendations on protecting yourself and your community, visit alberta.ca/COVID19.