Health Minister Tyler Shandro in this undated photo. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Alberta to send protective equipment, ventilators to B.C., Quebec, Ontario

Health Minister says Alberta has an abundance of equipment to deal with COVID-19

Alberta says it will be sending personal protective equipment and ventilators to provinces facing short supply, including B.C.

In an announcement Saturday (April 11), Health Minister Tyler Shandro said that the province has “more than enough to meet the projected demand for hospital services during the peak of the virus.”

Alberta has recorded roughly 1,500 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus. Just shy of 50 per cent of those patients have recovered. Thirty-nine people have died.

Shandro said shipments of all kinds of personal protection equipment, also known as PPE, will be sent to Ontario, Quebec and B.C., including goggles, N95 masks, gowns and gloves.

Ventilators will also be sent.

Shandro said the province has signed $200 million in contracts with medical suppliers, allowing Alberta to “look beyond our border” to help fellow Canadians.

“This is the right thing to do,” he said. “Our government’s first priority will always be Albertans. Our team of health experts is very confident in our modelling data and expected need for PPE and ventilators.”

READ MORE: B.C. clears more acute hospital beds as COVID-19 case growth slows

Earlier this week, Alberta released its provincial modelling for best and worst-case scenarios due to the novel coronavirus, which shows that between 400 and 3,100 people could die from the virus. Those numbers were based on a transmission rate of between one and two new infections per every infected person.

Federal officials released models suggesting between 11,000 and 22,000 people could die.

B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and her provincial counterparts have chosen not to model possible COVID-19 death tolls under the notion that “all models are wrong, but some are useful.”

“I don’t believe there’s value in some of the types of projections that have been presented,” Henry said during a news conference on Thursday (April 8).

“Our modelling is about what we need to prepare for. As you can see, deaths are not something that can be predicted. It depends on how your outbreak evolves.”

ALSO READ: A look at some of the B.C. inventors creating life-saving tools in fight against COVID-19

Instead, B.C. has focused modelling on whether the province has enough hospital beds and other resources if a widespread outbreak were to occur.

As of April 6, B.C. had 4,422 beds available, as well as 206 ICU beds. Since March, the province has been working to purchase more ventilators, bringing the total province-wide to 620.

But lack of PPE has been a concern voiced by various health care workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle. Health officials have expressed gathering this much-needed equipment isn’t an easy process.

Earlier this week, Health Minister Adrian Dix announced that the province has been able to source more PPE from Chinese vendors and suppliers, to the tune of 800,000 surgical masks, 157,000 isolation gowns, 85,000 gloves and 54,000 masks.

The federal government has provided an additional 900,000 surgical masks and 36,000 N95 masks.

Meanwhile, through donations the province has received 100,000 surgical masks, 83,000 N95 masks, 20,000 gloves, 10,000 goggles and 1,760 gowns.

“It’s not about quantity and speed of delivery—it’s about quality and safety, and that is what we’re doing,” Dix said.

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