Alberta reported an estimated record-breaking 4,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday as Albertans wait to hear a returning to school plan amid the surging fifth wave of the pandemic spurred by the Omicron variant.
In a Tweet Thursday morning, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said her scheduled live update on COVID-19 in the province would be delayed until Friday since she was taking part in a cabinet committee meeting to discuss the latest developments.
Premier Jason Kenney said on Tuesday that a decision would be made this week on students returning to school in the new year. Other provinces have announced a delay to in-person schooling, including British Columbia, Quebec, Manitoba and Nova Scotia, who pushed the return to school to Jan. 10, while in New Brunswick classes are set to return Jan. 18, and Newfoundland and Labrador has gone online indefinitely.
The Opposition NDP is demanding the province take action to keep schools safe amid the fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are days away from classes resuming in Alberta and parents, teachers and students are in the dark,” said NDP education critic Sarah Hoffman in a statement. “No one wants to see schools remain closed, but the government has done nothing to keep them safe despite having weeks of warnings about the surge of Omicron cases.
“This is a pattern with the UCP government. Through four previous waves of COVID they did next to nothing to support schools and we saw widespread outbreaks and repeated closures as a result.”
Hoffman also called for Grade 12 diploma exams to be made optional to ease stress for students, and for additional funding for school boards so they can acquire PPE, including N95 masks and HEPA filters.
The province meanwhile provided estimated COVID-19 numbers on Thursday.
Approximately 4,000 new cases were reported, breaking Wednesday’s record of 2,775. There is an estimated positivity rate of 30 per cent.
There are 371 Albertans in hospital with COVID-19, an increase of 22 from Wednesday. Of those, 48 are in intensive care units, a decrease of nine.
More to come.