Alberta's premier has accepted medical aid from Newfoundland and Labrador, days after saying the COVID-stricken province didn't require help dealing with a fourth-wave peak.
Premier Jason Kenney said Thursday evening that some hospitals are "under severe stress," citing low vaccination uptake in the central part of the province.
Kenney said an agreement with Newfoundland and Labrador is now being finalized, which includes the lending of five or six ICU-trained medical staff.
There are 20,255 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta as of Thursday, with 1,083 people in hospital being treated for the disease, including 263 in intensive care.
Kenney thanked Premier Andrew Furey for offering assistance earlier this month — aid that he originally turned down.
"We were moving toward a start date for that ... and then last week, Premier Kenney said that the situation had evolved to the point where their predictive modelling would suggest that they wouldn't require our resources at this time," Furey said in a briefing Tuesday.
"I reassured him that we would be there for him ... provided our situation is OK into the future."
The cadre of medical workers heading west will mirror what Newfoundland and Labrador offered Ontario last spring, when Premier Andrew Furey sent two waves of doctors and nurses to jump into the fray of Ontario's gridlocked hospitals.
The Alberta team would likely be dispatched to the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre in Fort McMurray, Kenney said.
"As [Furey] joked with me, Fort McMurray is Newfoundland's second largest city," Kenney said. "This is a wonderful gesture from a province whose people have done so much to build prosperity."
Newfoundland and Labrador has battled its own fourth wave in recent days, repeatedly reporting new cases in the double digits — an abnormal occurrence for the province throughout much of the pandemic.
It has 164 active cases province-wide as of Wednesday, with seven people in hospital due to COVID-19, the highest number of hospitalizations since March 5. Two of those people are in critical care.
Modelling released on Wednesday by Eastern Health clinical scientist Dr. Proton Rahman projected increased hospitalizations and higher occupancy of intensive-care units as the fourth wave progresses.
A spokesperson from Furey's office confirmed late Thursday evening that around half a dozen medical staff would be sent to Alberta, but could not immediately provide details of the plan.