Alberta’s hospital system is under “significant strain” and is adding intensive care beds as it faces an increase in COVID-19 cases, a medical director for the Edmonton area says.
Health officials reported 1,733 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, a record high that brought the number of active cases in the province to 16,454. The province also saw record-high COVID-19 hospitalizations, with 453 people in hospital, including 96 in ICU.
Dr. David Zygun, of Alberta Health Services, said Monday that the province had planned for the increased demand and was now “executing those plans as the demand increases.”
The province has 173 general adult ICU beds and has plans to expand up to 425 ICU beds, Zygun said at a COVID-19 briefing.
“Over the last week in Edmonton, we’ve added an additional 20 beds,” he said. “Over the weekend in Calgary, we have another 10 beds.”
Hospitals are also cohorting patients and making use of decomissioned and unused spaces as health services works to add beds to help with the COVID-19 response.
“Obviously we hope that they won’t be needed but we are working not only to supply them but also to staff them,” Zygun said.
Alberta’s leaders have faced criticism from some in the medical community who say that public health measures imposed by the province aren’t strong enough to slow the spread of the novel virus.
What’s happening across Canada
As of 7:45 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Canada’s COVID-19 case count stood at 378,139, with 66,037 of those considered active cases. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 12,130.
In British Columbia, the province announced the highest number of COVID-19 deaths for a three-day period as it recorded 46 fatalities over the weekend.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addressed those who have lost loved ones in the pandemic, saying “we all feel your loss and mourn with you.”
“These people have faces, have names, have stories. This tragedy is all of our tragedy,” Henry said. “If you are thinking it may be OK to bend the rules, please remember this virus takes lives.”
As of Monday, a statement from Henry and Dix said there were 316 people with COVID-19 in hospital, including 75 in intensive care.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said Monday it’s too early to say whether COVID-19 restrictions will be loosened in time to allow families to gather for the holidays. Moe said residents can expect to see high COVID-19 case numbers for the next few weeks, as officials wait to see if the latest public health measures have been effective.
The province reported 325 new infections on Monday and said there are 123 people in hospital, 23 of whom are receiving intensive care.
In Manitoba, health officials reported 343 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday and 11 additional deaths. The province, which has been dealing with a surge in cases, said 342 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, with 43 in intensive care units.
Ontario reported 1,746 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday and said hospitalizations had climbed to 618 — the highest hospitalization figures reported in the province’s second wave.
Quebec reported 1,333 new COVID-19 infections and 23 more deaths linked to the novel coronavirus on Monday.
The province’s Health Department said there are 693 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, 28 more than the previous day. Ninety-four people were in intensive care, an increase of two.
In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia reported 16 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, New Brunswick reported six new cases and Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case. There were no new cases reported in Prince Edward Island.
Across the North, there were four new cases of COVID-19 reported in Nunavut on Monday, while one new case was reported in Yukon. A mask mandate for indoor public spaces goes into effect in Yukon on Tuesday.
There were no new cases reported in the Northwest Territories, which has seen 15 cases to date.
What’s happening around the world
From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 7:30 a.m. ET
As of early Tuesday morning, more than 63.3 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 40.6 million of those cases listed as recovered or resolved in a tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 1.4 million.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Vietnamese authorities are conducting intensive contact tracing after the country’s first confirmed local transmission of the coronavirus in 89 days.
State media said Tuesday that a man in Ho Chi Minh City tested positive for the coronavirus on Monday after visiting a flight attendant who was undergoing self-quarantine at his home following his return from Japan two weeks ago. The flight attendant tested positive on Saturday, the Tuoi Tre newspaper said.
Health authorities ordered 137 people who had been in close contact with the man to stay in a central quarantine facility and shut down an English centre where the man works as a teacher.
The new case ended Vietnam’s streak of 89 days without any known local transmission of the virus. Vietnam’s borders remain closed in an attempt to keep out the virus. Only limited international flights are operating to repatriate Vietnamese nationals and transport foreign diplomats and experts.
The country has reported 1,347 coronavirus cases, including 35 deaths.
In Europe, nonessential shops in Belgium were reopening Tuesday in the wake of encouraging figures about declining daily coronavirus infection rates and hospital admissions.
The government is fearful, however, that the change might lead to massive gatherings in the nation’s most popular shopping centres and streets. Over the weekend, pre-Christmas light festivals already led to crowded scenes in several cities, prompting warnings from virologists about the dangers of reopening too soon.
Belgium, host to the headquarters of the 27-nation European Union, has been one of the hardest-hit countries in Europe during the pandemic. Belgium has reported more than 16,500 deaths linked to the virus during two surges in the spring and the fall.
Under the new rules, shopping has to be done alone or with a minor or a dependant person. Time in a shop is limited to half an hour. Restaurants and bars remain closed.
France, meanwhile, recorded 4,005 new COVID-19 infections on Monday, the smallest rise since August, even as hospitalizations remained high.
In the Americas, U.S. president-elect Joe Biden will formally introduce his top economic policy advisers on Tuesday as his administration prepares to take power amid a slowing economic recovery hampered by the resurgent pandemic.
California’s governor, meanwhile, said he may renew a stay-at-home order in coming days, while families of 15 public school students sued the state, saying it has failed to provide equal education to poor and minority children during the pandemic.
In the Middle East, Iran remained the hardest hit country in the region, with more than 975,000 recorded cases of COVID-19 and more than 48,600 deaths.
In Africa, deaths from malaria due to disruptions during the pandemic to services designed to tackle the mosquito-borne disease will far exceed those from COVID-19 in sub-Saharan Africa, the World Health Organization warned. South Africa remained the hardest-hit country in Africa, with more than 790,000 recorded cases of COVID-19 and more than 21,500 deaths.