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'Our ICUs are under extreme pressure': Hospitals overwhelmed as COVID cases continue climb in Alberta

Last Updated Sep 17, 2021 at 6:50 am MDT

The Humber River Hospital ICU. CITYNEWS

CALGARY — There are now 222 people with COVID-19 in Alberta ICUs, making up around 75 per cent of intensive care capacity in the province.

It’s a number that has far surpassed concerning and has made the situation in Alberta hospitals dire.

“This fourth wave has resulted in the sharpest increase in ICU patients that we have seen throughout the pandemic,” said Alberta Health Services President and CEO Dr. Verna Yiu.

Without additional surge spaces, the province’s ICU capacity would be at around 155 per cent.

WATCH: Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw is joined by AHS President Dr. Verna Yiu to provide an update on COVID-19 in Alberta.¬†

Meanwhile, in total, there are now 896 people in hospital with COVID-19 — a rise of 19 people from Wednesday.

Yiu says after Wednesday’s update, the province reached out to other provinces for assistance.

“We are asking them if they have skilled frontline staff who may be willing to come to Alberta to assist us,” Yiu said. “Ontario has graciously offered their help, and we are in discussions with them regarding potential transfer patients if needed, we remain hopeful that we will not come to those terms, as our teams continue to add critical care capacity in Alberta.”

She says Alberta has also reached out to Manitoba and B.C., though hasn’t asked Saskatchewan as that province deals with a crisis of its own.


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“I cannot stress enough how serious the situation is in our hospitals. I promise you that we will continue to do that all that we can to provide the care to Albertans. I also cannot stress enough that we need your help. Please get immunized.”

On Thursday, Alberta identified 1,718 new cases of COVID-19 after more than 16,000 tests were completed — for a positivity rate of around 10.6 per cent.

There are now 18,706 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta.

Ten additional deaths were also reported on Thursday.

Clarity on vaccine passports and restrictions 

Dr. Deena Hinshaw took time during Thursday’s live update to clear up some confusion regarding the vaccine passports, negative tests and how the system will work going forward.

Hinshaw reminded Albertans who aren’t vaccinated that they will need to purchase their own COVID-19 test in order to gain access to business in the province.

Tests covered by the province are only available to those who are experiencing symptoms.

Hinshaw also provided some answers on how the program will work, and if businesses need to apply to be eligible for the program.

“The answer is no,” she said. “Businesses simply need to consult the material we will be posting (Friday) on our website and implement the process described there in order to qualify.”

She adds that audits and enforcement will happen starting Monday to make sure that businesses are following the rules.