'Current wave is receding': Copping says Alta. has passed peak of sixth wave of COVID-19

Jason Copping on May 4, 2022.

The peak of the sixth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has passed in Alberta, Health Minister Jason Copping announced on Wednesday.

“The peak of BA.2 cases has passed, and the current wave is receding,” he said during the government’s weekly COVID-19 press conference.

Copping said between May 17 and May 23, the average COVID-19 positivity rate, as determined by PCR testing, was about 17.5 per cent, down from 20 per cent the week before.

Fifty five deaths were recorded last week, an average of eight deaths per day.

The minister made another push for Albertans to get vaccinated and to get their boosters.

“There’s still lots of COVID virus around, especially in Edmonton and Calgary, and we can’t expect it to go to zero,” he said. “It remains a real risk, especially to those who are unvaccinated or undervaccinated.”

Copping also announced that starting Thursday, Evushield will be available to Albertans who have had organ or cell transplants, blood cancer, or are taking certain immunocompromising drugs.

Evushield is not a treatment for COVID-19, but can help protect against the disease in those who are not infected.

Because the drug will only be available to a small portion of the population, it will only be prescribed through specialists who treat the requisite conditions.

While the BA.2 wave seems to be receding, the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants are starting to spread in other regions.

The province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said on Wednesday that Alberta has confirmed its first case of the BA.4 subvariant.

“Evidence suggests that BA.4 and BA.5 are more transmissible than earlier variants, but do not cause increased risk of severe illness,” she said, adding Albertans should expect to see more variants and subvariants of COVID-19 in the future.

Copping also announced Wednesday that while the province would continue to provide COVID-19 data on a weekly basis, in-person updates will be reduced to once every two weeks.

The next update is expected on June 6.