Changes to Alberta’s COVID-19 Reporting Process Following Hinshaw’s Apology

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“At the same time, we are in a global pandemic. We have an obligation to monitor and report deaths from COVID-19 infection and to be as prompt and transparent as possible. “

Hinshaw said the reports still include all deaths for which COVID is the primary or secondary cause of death, according to the health care teams involved.

She said a main cause could be that COVID progresses to pneumonia which is the direct cause of death. A secondary cause could be a person with an underlying disease such as heart failure who contracts COVID and the infection worsens their pre-existing condition, resulting in death.

She said the province is reporting this way to accurately capture the impact of COVID-19.

Hinshaw also explained that any reporting system has a tug of war between accuracy and timeliness, saying that the more precise it is, the slower it is.

“We have chosen to focus as quickly as possible for the sake of transparency,” she said, sometimes adding that the initial information provided changes after a review, as happened on Tuesday.

“While the initial report of the 14-year-old’s death included COVID as a secondary cause, we have now received additional information that indicated COVID was not a cause of death,” Hinshaw said.

She said changes are underway to avoid similar situations in the future and that COVID deaths of anyone under the age of 18 will not be publicly reported until the review process is completed.

Dr Verna Yiu, president and CEO of AHS, said pressures continue to slowly ease on hospitals and intensive care units.

As of Thursday, intensive care units were 76% occupied, with 97 spaces available across the province. Yiu said that a month ago, intensive care units were at nearly 90% of capacity and intensive care admissions were increasing.

Yiu said she was cautiously optimistic.

“We are grateful that the numbers seem to be going down, but we know that this trend can be reversed easily, especially if we become complacent,” she said. “And we remain uncertain of the potential impact of the Thanksgiving long weekend.”

She added that healthcare teams remain under constant pressure and that although the numbers look positive, “the pressures at the hospital remain high.”


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