Premier Jason Kenney to talk today with prime minister, other premiers about omicron

Tuesday's scheduled COVID-19 update has been cancelled because Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has convened a meeting with provincial and territorial premiers.

Scheduled Alberta COVID-19 briefing has been postponed

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney will speak Tuesday with other premiers and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about how best to deal with the omicron variant. (Todd Korol/The Canadian Press)

Alberta's scheduled COVID-19 update for Tuesday has been cancelled as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau convenes a meeting with provincial and territorial leaders to discuss the impact of the omicron variant.

Premier Jason Kenney was to hold a news conference at 5 p.m. with Health Minister Jason Copping and Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health.

That event has now been postponed so that Kenney can meet with Trudeau and other premiers to discuss the government response to the new variant of concern.

In a tweet, Kenney spokesperson Brock Harrison said Tuesday's news conference had been postponed due to the pending call with the prime minister.

Trudeau will host the call following the federal fiscal update. 

"We're going to convene a meeting as soon as possible with the premiers to address Omicron and make sure we're working together to keep you safe as we head into the holidays," Trudeau said on Twitter. 

As of Monday there were 4,182 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, following a modest increase in active cases over the weekend.

Alberta reported 863 new cases of the disease on Monday, compiling data from the previous three days.

The province also reported seven new cases of the omicron variant on Monday, the newest variant of concern.

The province now has identified 30 omicron cases in total, 21 of them in the Calgary health zone.

There are 357 Albertans being treated for COVID-19 in hospital, including 68 in intensive care.

Alberta's ICU capacity, including additional surge beds, is at 81 per cent. Without the surge spaces, ICU capacity would be at 107 per cent.

Rapid tests, holiday restrictions

Kenney said Friday that an announcement would come on Tuesday about plans for the distribution of rapid antigen tests.

According to an email from the Alberta government to a Calgary pharmacy, all Albertans will soon be able to access free take-home COVID-19 rapid antigen testing kits from participating pharmacies in Edmonton, Red Deer and Calgary.

Albertans outside of these cities can access testing kits through Alberta Health Services sites.

Pressure has been mounting for the province to share its stockpile of rapid COVID-19 tests more widely with Albertans ahead of the holidays.

The federal government has supplied more than 11 million of the tests, and the province still has roughly 5.5 million in storage.

During an update last week, Kenney also suggested that a decision on public health restrictions for the holidays will be made soon.

The premier promised a "modest, common-sense relaxation" of the rules so more Albertans could gather together for Christmas.

Kenney said he planned to gather with three fully vaccinated people from three households at Christmas, a private gathering that would be prohibited under current health restrictions. 

Currently in Alberta, indoor private social gatherings are limited to two households with up to a maximum of 10 vaccine-eligible people who have been vaccinated. There are no restrictions on children under 12.

Indoor social gatherings are not permitted for vaccine-eligible people who are unvaccinated.


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