Sickness in Canada has reached an all-time high with more than 1,300 cases and a record number of deaths.
Health Canada says more than half of those cases are in the northeast and southwestern regions of the country, where the disease has been especially prevalent in recent weeks.
“The recent uptick in the number of cases and deaths in Alberta and Saskatchewan has been driven by an increase in patients with chronic or chronic illness and associated comorbidities,” the agency said in a news release Friday.
“In this region, the risk of complications with prolonged or repeated hospitalizations has been significantly higher than in other regions.”
The agency has also been warning of a “critical shortage of acute care beds,” and says the number is “growing at a rate of approximately 40 per cent a week.”
Health Canada has also said that the number will only rise, as more people return from work and school.
“Our urgent priority is to support the many vulnerable individuals who are returning to work and the families and friends who have been waiting years for their loved ones to recover,” said Minister of Health Dr. Christian Paradis.
He said he has ordered an urgent meeting with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and the provincial health minister to discuss the growing numbers.
Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman says Alberta is seeing an unprecedented spike in the rate of cases, but she says the province is working to address it.
“We’re also working with other jurisdictions in Canada to identify where there are gaps and where additional support is needed, especially to those who have not been able to seek care,” she said.
“These people are still very vulnerable to complications and they’re going to continue to be so.”
But not everyone agrees that Alberta’s situation is so dire.
Alberta NDP health critic and Minister of Public Health Dr, Danielle Smith says Alberta’s health system needs to do more.
“Alberta’s system is in dire need of urgent help,” she says.
CBC News’ Alissa Scheller, Brian Murphy, Chris Williams and Peter Mansbridge contributed to this report.”
I think we’ve been left to wonder what our future is going to look like.”
CBC News’ Alissa Scheller, Brian Murphy, Chris Williams and Peter Mansbridge contributed to this report.