Moving to an ‘endemic’ means living with the virus, says Alberta’s top doctor

As Alberta comes down from the peak of the Omicron wave and there are talks that some restrictions could be lifted, Alberta’s top doctor is providing clarity on moving into an endemic and what it really means for the future.

During Thursday’s live COVID-19 update, Dr. Deena Hinshaw said that moving to an endemic doesn’t mean COVID is gone, but that the risks we have faced have subsided.

“There will continue to be impacts on our acute care systems that will rise and fall with seasonality and new variants that may emerge,” she explained. “We cannot prevent all negative outcomes from COVID and we must be ready to respond to new information.”

WATCH: Dr. Deena Hinshaw provides an update on COVID-19 in Alberta.

Hinshaw says what has been important is finding the balance between the harms of COVID and the harms of the measures put in place.

“I believe that after the Omicron wave has subsided, the risk of our system becoming overwhelmed will be substantially reduced, and this will enable us to shift our response.”

“But we cannot continue to use restrictions in the long term.”

She says the pandemic has never had a single right way to be handled and we must continue to respond to whatever is thrown our way.

COVID numbers update

Meanwhile, Hinshaw announced more than 2,300 new cases of COVID-19 were reported over the last 24 hours in Alberta.

The new case numbers come after more than 7,000 tests were completed for a positivity rate of around 34 per cent.

There are now 1,584 people in hospital with the virus, a decline of 12 patients from Wednesday.

Of those in hospital, 112 are in the ICU.

Meanwhile, Alberta Health is reporting 15 more people have died with COVID over the last day.

Some schools shift to online learning

Hinshaw also talked about COVID in Alberta schools and what the situation currently looks like.

“With respect to the more than 2,500 schools in the province, Alberta Education has confirmed that as of February 2, 19 (schools) have shifted to temporary, at-home learning to address operational challenges.”

She says of the 19 schools, four have fewer than 40 students total and across the province, just one per cent of schools are operating online.

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