Alberta is cutting back on planned surgeries in its two major cities and the northern part of the province, allowing for admission to the COVID-19 hospital.
Alberta Health Services (AHS) will postpone operations for 30 percent of operations in the Calgary, Edmonton and Northern Zones for the next two weeks, starting Tuesday, as well as some emergency procedures and ambulatory appointments.
Canceled procedures will be re-registered soon and only victims will be contacted, the AHS said.
“These changes will enable our hospitals to expand inpatient beds if needed and to create more capacity for COVID-19 cases to be admitted to the hospital,” AHS said on Twitter.
On Tuesday, 635 people in the province were hospitalized with COVID-19, 143 of whom are in intensive care.
The average age of patients in the hospital is 56 – much younger than previous waves of infection.
The AHS said the province currently has sufficient capacity for hospitalized patients, including those in intensive care, to increase ICU seats and recruit staff if needed.
The province has set up a 100-bed hospital at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, which has not yet been used, and a field hospital in Calgary has been used as an extension of the Peter Lokeet Center’s emergency department.
“AHS is concerned about the increasing number of cases in the community and in our health care facilities,” AHS said, urging people to continue to follow public health regulations.
The province on Tuesday saw its highest test positive rate at 11.4 percent, and its all-time high active case count stands at 20,721.
Doctors have been warning of rising case numbers in recent weeks, with increased restrictions and calls for priority immunizations for front-line workers.
“The sad truth of this is that this is our third wave and we need to be better now,” Calgary emergency room doctor Dr Joe Wybond said Monday.
“We know this is good government policy and needs some strong controls. I do not think there is any other way to alleviate this. All of these diseases are predictable and preventable.”
Prime Minister Jason Kenny did not plan to introduce more public health regulations on Monday because “there is no need to increase compliance with additional rules.”
Last month, Alberta pledged to provide tens of thousands of additional surgeries in the coming year to remove the contagion of 36,000 surgeries. Ask CBC News AHS how many surgeries this cancellation will add to the total backlog.