Up to 800,000 coronavirus infections and 3,100 deaths could be seen in Alberta by the end of this summer, according to new modelling data.
“From the beginning of the outbreak to the end of summer we could see as many as 800,000 infections, and between 400 and 3,100 deaths,” Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said.
“Our per capita number of recorded infections is the second-highest in Canada, after Quebec, but that is in part because our brilliant scientists and lab technicians are conducting one of the highest levels of COVID-19 testing in the world," Kenney noted.
While publicly addressing Albertans on Tuesday, Kenney spoke about the new projections and the state of the province's economy.
Kenney gave his condolences to families of those who have lost their lives as a result of coronavirus—now 26 Albertans in total. He continued to let Albertans know how the province is handling the disease, reported CTV News.
He added that Alberta has a similar curve to countries like South Korea who have been successful in slowing the spread of the virus.
Alberta Health Services modelling predicts that the number of cases will peak in the middle of May.
This means that about one-in-six Albertans could be infected with coronavirus based on the last estimate of the province's population which was 4,371,316 in 2019.
An elevated scenario that is less likely to take place shows infections peaking in early May with up to one-million positive tests and about 500 to 6,600 deaths.
Kenney noted that if public health orders weren’t issued and people did not follow the proper social distancing guidelines the province could see up to 1.6 million infections and approximately 32,000 deaths.
“I know that these numbers can be overwhelming, but these models are not a done deal,” he said. “I want Albertans to see them as a challenge.”
He added that on a positive note, the amount of people requiring intensive care due to the virus is fairly low when compared to Quebec, Ontario and BC.
Kenney added that the province has done well so far in practicing physical distancing as well as proper hand-washing which has helped to lower the curve in Alberta.
Kenney said that more details will be provided on Wednesday regarding the expansion of hospital capacity along with more acute care beds, ventilators and ICU areas.
“For now, let me say we are confident that our health system will be able to cope, and that we have the supplies on hand,” he said.
The premier added that orders limiting non-essential services will stay in place until the end of April at least.
“As hard as this will be, it is the only ethical choice when thousands of lives are still at stake,” he said.
After the peak amount of infections is reached in Alberta, the province plans to implement a strategy that will phase in economic activity in ways similar to countries like South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore.
The strategy includes a testing system that is more “aggressive” and can test up to 20,000 people per day.
Kenney also believes stronger screening is necessary at borders and was not happy with the decision made by the government to “wait so long to close our borders, especially from countries with high levels of infection.”
Oil in Western Canada has dropped below $3 a barrel and Kenney noted that it’s possible for Alberta energy to “hit negative prices.”
“It has been made worse by a predatory price war led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, who are trying permanently to damage North America’s energy industry…That is why we have begun discussions with US leaders about a coordinated defence of North American energy to protect us from the reckless actions of those regimes.”
Kenney added that he is happy with recent decisions like the investment of $1.5-billion towards the Keystone XL pipeline as well as the new Economic Recovery Council.