Premier Jason Kenney appeared during yesterday's (Jan. 20) COVID-19 update, saying he believes Alberta may be past the peak of the Omicron spike, though hospitalizations remain a concern.

Kenney based the assertion about the Omicron peak on trends with wastewater analysis.

"It's still early days, but we can see that, of the 19 communities where we are doing wastewater analysis, we have seen in those samples and studies that Omicron and COVID-19 are declining in 15 of those 19 communities. Most importantly with apparently significant declines as of Jan. 16 in Calgary and Edmonton, the two areas who were earliest hit by the Omicron wave."

According to Kenney, the apparent decline is in line with Omicron waves peaking around four weeks after they began.

At the same time, he highlighted the fact that more Albertans are currently being treated for COVID in hospital than at any other point in the pandemic.

As of January 20, 2022, 1,131 Albertans are being treated for COVID in hospital, with 108 in intensive care.

An additional eight deaths have been confirmed.

Kenney expects the peak of hospitalizations will come near the end of January and will see at 1,500 Albertans in non-ICU beds, with many of them being 'incidental' cases.

Health minister Jason Copping provided details on the data behind Alberta's hospital admissions.

"We are tracking those who are hospitalized for COVID and those who are hospitalized with COVID. Currently, approximately 55 per cent of new, non-ICU admissions and 70 per cent of new ICU admissions are directly due to COVID-19. The remainder of our admissions with COVID-19 where the infection is incidental or, in a very small percentage, it's unclear if COVID is related to the admission."

Dr. Deena Hinshaw also provided some statistics related to hospitalizations, specifically the vaccine status of those admitted.

"In the last few months, those who are 80 or older have had a lower risk of hospitalization from COVID than unvaccinated 12 to 29-year-olds. Looking at all age groups combined in the last several months, those who do not have any vaccine protection were 15 times more likely to be hospitalized than those with three doses and seven times more likely than those with two doses."

"If we look at our current data, the majority of people experiencing the most severe outcomes and being treated in intensive care right now are unvaccinated even though this group represents a minority of the total population. Specifically, unvaccinated individuals make up only about 10 per cent of Alberta's 12+ population, however, unvaccinated people make up over 57 per cent of ICU patients right now, almost six times their share of the population."

Information provided by Okotoks Online/Government of Alberta