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Wastewater suggests COVID count climbing in Calgary as hospitalizations drop

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Alberta updated its COVID-19 data for the first time since last Friday.

There are 956 Albertans with COVID-19 in hospital, including 56 in intensive care.

"I'm pleased to report that hospitalizations due to COVID continue to drop, slowly but surely," said Health Minister Jason Copping.

"We need to acknowledge that COVID-19 remains with us and the health system is still under significant pressure."

A total of 4,044 Albertans have died since the pandemic began, a count that grew by 21 over the prior four days.

Alberta's positivity rate, which Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said is the most important leading indicator, ranged from 20.6 to 27.1 per cent between Friday and Monday.

Hinshaw added BA.2 is now the dominant strain of Omicron in Alberta.

"Although inherently more transmissible than BA.1, so far there is no evidence of it causing more severe disease than BA.1," she said. "While this is good news, we only have to look back to the fifth wave to see that a virus that is more transmissible can cause a large impact at a population level even if the risk of severe outcomes are the same or lower for individuals."

WASTEWATER WATCHING

As the province significantly cuts back on its reporting, there are still reminders the pandemic can't just be shut off. 

Without widespread testing, tracking wastewater may be the most reliable way to predict where the virus could go next. 

"Wastewater data is very inclusive," geomicrobiology professor Casey Hubert told CTV News. "It says what you could if you could do a PCR test on the whole community."

Hubert tracks those trends. 

His data is publicly available here

"What we are seeing now is similar levels in wastewater to what we saw in the middle of the Delta wave in the fall," he said. 

That suggests COVID-19 cases are ticking upwards in Calgary and Edmonton. 

Both Banff and Medicine Hat are seeing more concerning increases relative to their population size.

Alberta will update its COVID-19 data next Wednesday.

With files from CTV Edmonton

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