The province says they have a new tool to combat COVID-19. 

Shipments of Pfizer’s Paxlovid anti-viral medication are on their way to Alberta and will be available to patients by the end of the month, health minister Jason Copping confirmed on Tuesday (Jan.25). 

However, due to the limited supply and side effects associated with the drug, the pill will only be available to select groups to start. 

“There’s a process in place to ensure those who need it the most will be first in line,” said Copping. 

To be eligible, a patient must have tested positive for COVID-19 on a lab-confirmed PCR test; the pill will be available by prescription only and needs to be started within five days of showing symptoms. 

The province reported 2,722 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. Currently, 1,377 people are in the hospital, including 111 in intensive care.  

According to Copping, the number of hospitalizations is a 30 per cent increase over last week. While early positive signs point to transmission slowing in the province, the coming weeks will be “the toughest yet,” particularly for healthcare workers. 

Despite the increase, Alberta Health Services is currently handling about 90 per cent of normal surgical volumes, although some may be cut as the strain on the health system increases.