Alberta’s chief medical officer of health says recently leaked recordings that hint at tension regarding the province’s COVID-19 response were “taken out of context.”
Dr. Deena Hinshaw said she was “profoundly disappointed” internal conversations were shared. She called it a violation of the public service oath and code of conduct.
“This is a personal betrayal and betrayal of the trust that our hardworking team has placed in each other,” Hinshaw said during a live COVID-19 update Thursday afternoon.
“The comments, as reported, are taken out of context, separated from the many other discussions that would have occurred in the days before and after, as part of ongoing discussions to ensure that my advice to the premier and the minister of health is grounded in evidence and considers every facet of potential discussions with elected leaders.”
Hinshaw said her role is to provide the best advice to elected officials to protect the health of Albertans.
“There are no risk-free options with COVID-19. This pandemic has challenged us all and required a wide range of complex decisions, all of which have strengths and weaknesses,” she said.
“I do not dictate every detail of each policy decision, and I should not. I was not elected by Albertans. The final decisions are up to elected officials who were chosen by Albertans. This is how democracy works.”
The government confirmed 1,077 new COVID-19 cases Thursday afternoon.
Hinshaw revealed the latest statistics during the government’s daily update.
This brings the province’s active cases total to 14,052. Alberta’s COVID-19 death toll is now 510.
There are 158 active cases in Red Deer and 53 in Red Deer County.
Sylvan Lake has 41 active cases, Lacombe County has 31, Lacombe has 23, Olds has 17, Clearwater County has 14, Mountain View County has 11 and Stettler has two.
Collectively, Ponoka County and Wetaskiwin County have 317 active cases.
There are 947 active cases in Alberta Health Services’ central zone. Edmonton has the most active cases of any zone with 6,444, while Calgary has 5,126, the north zone has 789, the south zone has 664 and 82 are within an unknown location.
There are currently active alerts or outbreaks at 359 Alberta schools, which is about 15 per cent of all schools in the province. These schools have a combined 1,288 active cases.
Provincially, 383 people are in hospital due to COVID-19 – 84 of those individuals have been admitted into an intensive care unit.
Twenty people have been hospitalized in the central zone – five of those individuals are in intensive care.
Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced the province will soon begin piloting point-of-care rapid testing for COVID-19.
AHS and Alberta Precision Laboratories have been working to evaluate the effectiveness of the Abbott IDNow and PanBio COVID-19 testing kits, which have been approved by Health Canada and provided to provinces and territories by the federal government.
More than 100,000 tests are available for distribution to targeted sites to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect Albertans.
In the coming weeks, these two point-of-care rapid testing systems will be rolled out in clinical pilots at several sites throughout the province.
The tests “will be used on patients who are within the first seven days of expressing symptoms,” said Shandro.
“This will allow us to quickly identify and notify positive cases within hours, reducing the need for patient samples to be transported to centralized public laboratories for processing.”
The PanBio rapid antigen tests will be used at one assessment centre in Calgary and one assessment centre in Edmonton.
The IDNow tests will begin to be used at the COVID-19 assessment centres in Slave Lake and St. Paul and at the hospital lab in Bonnyville.