No truth to the rumour: Alberta will not go into lockdown next week

The Alberta government has confirmed to CTV News that the province will remain open, dispelling rumours floating on social media saying otherwise.

A government source told CTV News in an email that an online rumour, which stated that schools throughout the province would close on Monday and remain that way until November were "not true."

The rumour began when a Twitter user, who claimed to have insider info, posted details about the alleged government plans on Wednesday. In the message, they wrote the province would go into "lockdown" on Oct. 4 and it would last until Nov. 1.

They also wrote that the decision was being made because of modelling numbers, which were suggested to take "a swan dive."

'NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES OF RESTRICTIONS'

During a media availability on Thursday afternoon, Premier Jason Kenney repeated that his government would be waiting to see the outcome of the latest set of restrictions issued a few weeks ago.

He said that COVID-19 has been a problem for every nation in the world and the various policies those government have taken have had various different results.

"In the spring, Ontario was exactly where we are today in terms of per capita ICU admissions even though they had a hard lockdown in place for months," Kenney said. "Manitoba was in a much worse situation in the spring."

He also took examples from outside Canada, like Sweden and Australia.

"There is a big debate about (Sweden's) response, the efficacy of their response, but it was on the minimal restrictions side of the spectrum," he said. "(Australia) has repeated the hardest lockdowns in the democratic world and we have a hard time accounting for all the negative consequences of restrictions."

When it comes to further restrictions in the province, Kenney said his government is still watching the figures that are coming out and will act accordingly when the time comes.

"A lot of different things could end up suddenly increasing transmission. So we are watching all of the trends very carefully, we want to see the impact of the latest rounds of serious public health measures that we introduced and that's where we are as we continue to see real momentum on the vaccine program."

Kenney added much of Alberta's problem comes from the lack of vaccination in rural communities, so the responsibility for the high number of active cases is split.

"Governments have to take some of the responsibility, individuals who don't stay home when they're sick have to and people who don't get vaccinated have to as well.

"I'm not interested in the blame game, I'm just interested in us getting through this, helping out health care workers, increasing vaccination rates, reducing our transmission while we increase capacity. That's our focus."

NEARLY 400 ICU BEDS IN ALBERTA

Alberta Health Services (AHS) says it continues to create more spaces for patients in need of critical care as the fourth wave continues to result in a surge of COVID-19 cases.

"We currently have 373 ICU beds open in Alberta, including 200 additional spaces (a 115 per cent increase over our baseline of 173)," said James Wood with AHS in an email to CTV News. "AHS has opened 22 additional ICU surge spaces in the past seven days."

Wood confirmed there are 309 Albertans in the ICU, with the majority of those patients being treated for COVID-19.

The number of ICU patients provincewide has increased by six per cent in the past week.

The zone-by-zone breakdown is:

  • Calgary Zone - 137 ICU beds plus 71 additional spaces (operating at 79 per cent of current capacity);
  • Edmonton Zone - 158 ICU beds plus 86 additional spaces (operating at 86 per cent of current capacity);
  • Central Zone - 27 ICU beds plus 15 additional spaces (operating at 77 per cent of current capacity);
  • South Zone - 36 ICU beds plus 19 addtional spaces (operating at 81 per cent of current capacity) and;
  • North Zone - 15 ICU beds (include Grande Prairie and Fort McMurray) plus nine additional spaces (operating at 100 per cent capacity).