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COVID-19 infections expected to peak in May: Premier Kenney

Premier Jason Kenney says the peak of COVID-19 infections in Alberta is expected in May. That’s based on data collected by Alberta Health Services.

“Under the probable scenario,” explained Kenney during a televised address to the province Tuesday evening, “from the beginning of the outbreak to the end of the summer we could see as many as 800,000 infections, and between 400 to 1,300 deaths.”

He adds, under a more serious but less likely scenario, infections could peak at the beginning of next month with as many of one million infections and between 500 and 6,600 deaths.

“Those numbers are not inevitable. How this actually plays out, how many people are infected, how many die, whether we overwhelm our healthcare system, all of this depends on us and our choices,” adds Kenney.

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Public health orders will stay in place until at least the end of April to prevent an even more stringent lockdown. Social distancing measures are to stay in place until the end of May.

Kenney says, to those who believe the government is overreacting, the countermeasures so far are working.

“Our public experts project if we had no social distancing and public health orders in place, we could experience as many as 1.6 million infections and 32,000 deaths in Alberta, as many as 640 deaths per day. Our healthcare system would collapse under that scenario.”

As of April 7th, 1,373 Albertans have tested positive for COVID-19, 42 are hospitalized, and 26 have died. Kenney says an additional $500 million has been given to Alberta Health Services to fight the virus.

“The rate of Albertans hospitalized with COVID-19 and those in ICU is much lower than in other large provinces such as Ontario, Quebec, and B.C. However, those provinces saw their first cases before we did, so we might still catch up to their numbers.”

The province has begun planning out a relaunch strategy for when it starts to relax rules in place. The plan is aimed at gradually reopening the economy while preventing a second wave of the virus.

The key elements of the move include using new tests to identify positive cases more quickly, mass testing of around 20,000 per day, precise tracing of contact for those infected, strong border screening, strictly enforcing quarantine orders, and encouraging the use of masks in public spaces.

Kenney says Alberta will look towards countries like Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea that have had a low impact on their economy while curbing the spread.

“We expect a global economic recovery from COVID-19 later this year,” adds Kenney.

He says Alberta’s budget deficit this year may triple from $7 billion to almost $20 billion.

“Ultimately, this virus will pose a great threat to human health until a vaccine or effective drug treatments are widely available.”

He says AHS is already participating in trials to develop effective tests, drugs and vaccines.

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