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Province predicts possible scenario of 800,000 infections, 400 to 3,100 deaths from COVID-19

Last Updated Apr 8, 2020 at 6:10 am MDT

Summary

Alberta projections for COVID-19 are identified in two categories ‘probable’ and ‘elevated.’

Once the peak passes, the government will launch its Relaunch Strategy.

Alberta's budget deficit this year is projected to triple from $7B billion to $20 billion.

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Alberta Health has presented two models, one of which speaks to the probable infection of 800,000 Albertans and the possible deaths of 400 to 3,100.

A more ‘elevated scenario’ could see as many as 6,600 people deaths.

“I know that these numbers can be overwhelming,” Jason Kenney said in a provincial address.

The premier said three major crises are affecting the province.

The first is the COVID-19 pandemic itself.

So far, 1,373 Albertans have been infected, 42 have been hospitalized and 26 have died from COVID-19.

Kenney said, per capita, this is the second-highest in Canada, next to Quebec.

However, Kenney said this in part to the high rate of testing Alberta is conducting.

“(…)That’s a good thing because it has helped us track the close contacts of those who are infected, which limits the spread,” said Kenney.

When compared to provinces like Ontario, Quebec and B.C, Kenney said Alberta’s rate of hospitalization is very low.

However, that could change in the future due to the other provinces detecting their first cases before Alberta’s.

Looking to the future, Alberta Health provided two scenarios to predict what COVID-19’s impact could have on Albertans.

The ‘probable scenario’ predicts that, from the beginning of the outbreak to the end of summer, 800,000 infections and between 400 to 3,100 deaths could occur.

That’s if Alberta continues its current path of testing, following social distancing guidelines, and other precautions placed into effect.

In a more extreme situation, the less likely “elevated scenario” could see as many as one million infections and between 500 to 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 health care system, all of that depends on us and our choices,” said Kenney.

However, the premier said if the precautions are not followed, as many as 1.6 million Albertans could be infected and 32,000 could die.

Kenney said that cannot be allowed to happen.

To push back against the virus, the government announced an extra $500 million is to be given to AHS.

“(…)We will spare no expense to prevent the spread while providing the best possible care to those who need it.”

Kenney said to prevent the virus from wreaking havoc on Alberta’s public health, they may have to maintain the COVID-19 precautions at least until the end of April and maintain strict social distancing until the end of May.

The second and third crises are intertwined – the global recession and the global energy market collapse.

Kenney said that as soon as the Alberta passes the peak of the pandemic, a Relaunch Strategy will be implemented to help the economic climate of the province.

“Faced with this triple threat, our job is to save both lives and livelihoods. Our first priority is protecting the health of Albertans,” said Kenney.

“We can’t focus on either the pandemic or the economy. The two are intertwined.”

The Relaunch Strategy, fashioned after countries like Taiwan and South Korea, has several key elements.

One – To test as many as 20,000 Albertans a day.

Two – To take a deeper look into possible social contamination.

Three – To allow for stricter border screening.

Four – To enforce stricter quarantine enforcement.

Five – To encourage the use of facial masks in public spaces.

Kenney said that they predict that the global economy could recover from the virus’ impact later this year but assumes Alberta will have a much longer crawl back to economic stability.

“There is a very real possibility that, as global inventories overflow, our energy will hit negative prices. We’ll be paying people to take away our energy.”

Kenney said he suspects that due to the virus’s impact and the “predatory price war” Saudi Arabia and Russia have led against the global energy price, Alberta’s budget deficit could be tripled from $7 billion to $20 billion.

To help in Alberta’s economic recovery, the government is committing $12 billion to its COVID-19 Action Plan initiatives like deferrals and donations to shelters and charities.

“(…)We will do more, including a huge new investment in job-creating infrastructure projects.”

Lastly, Kenney said that he is confident Alberta will be able to pull through this hard time.

“We have strong institutions in Alberta and we have a remarkable culture of resilience.”