Alberta declared a public health emergency on Wednesday as a surge in cases has pushed the health care system in Canada (the center of the country’s oil industry) to the edge.
Governor Jason Kenney stated that the operating capacity of the intensive care unit in the province is more than twice the normal capacity, and the model suggests that Alberta may run out of staff to enter ICU beds within 10 days .
Alberta reported 1,609 new Covid-19 cases and 24 deaths on Wednesday, the most since January. The infection rate per capita in the past 7 days is 2.5 times that of Canada as a whole.
The province’s vaccination activities lag behind the rest of the country, with the vaccination rate being slightly higher than 60%, while the national average level is close to 70%.
Kenny said: “We are facing an emergency and we need to take immediate action to save lives and prevent an ongoing crisis in our healthcare system,” he added, adding that new measures to deal with the spread of the virus will take effect on Thursday, the second batch in September Rules to follow on the 20th.
This was a major reversal for Kenny, who came under fire for lifting restrictions amid the increase in cases in July and taking a three-week holiday in August due to a surge in the number of cases.
On Monday, more than 60 infectious disease experts called on Kenny to re-implement restrictions. They wrote in a letter: “Hospitals and intensive care units across the province are under tremendous pressure. It is not clear whether we can provide safe care for Albertans, or how long it will last.”
Measures to be taken on Thursday include vaccination certificates for entering public places, limiting the capacity of public places, compulsory social distancing and requiring those who can work from home to do so.
“Protecting lives must be our top concern,” Kenny said on Wednesday. “I believe the vast majority of Albertans understand and support this.”
According to government data, Alberta has the world’s fourth largest oil reserves, second only to Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Iran.