Alberta’s top doctor expressed concern for the level of COVID-19 spread linked to private gatherings in the province, as the total number of confirmed cases surpassed 13,000 over the weekend.
Another 83 cases were recorded Friday, 106 on Saturday and 69 on Sunday, adding an additional 258 cases to the province’s total. There are 1,172 active cases in the province, including 356 in the Calgary zone and 631 in the Edmonton zone, and 11,600 total recoveries.
With the active-case count growing in Alberta’s major cities, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said people need to be diligent during private gatherings such as weddings, reunions or other events that bring family and friends together.
“When organized by even the most well-meaning family members, it can still be challenging to maintain physical distance with loved ones, or ask your parents and grandparents to wash their hands, or to ensure that nieces or nephews who are sick stay away and don’t come,” said Hinshaw.
But, she added, gathering outdoors, maintaining physical distancing and encouraging those who are feeling sick to stay home can save lives. When AHS looked into the high number of active cases in the Edmonton zone, they found many were connected to private gatherings.
“When we let our guard down, the virus has its opportunity,” Hinshaw said.
In addition to following health and safety guidelines carefully when hosting a get-together, it is also recommended to keep a written list of attendees for at least two weeks so that contact tracing can be more efficient.
“It may seem silly to write down which family members come over for a visit, but quick access to accurate information speeds up contact tracing immensely,” said Hinshaw.
“It has the potential to save lives.”
There are currently 45 Albertans in hospital, including nine requiring intensive care. The majority of
Four more people died from COVID-19 over the weekend. Two women, one in her 80s and one a centenarian, both residents of the Good Samaritan Southgate Care Centre in the Edmonton zone, died. A man in his 70s from the North zone and a woman in her 70s from the South zone also died from COVID-19; neither were living at continuing-care facilities.
The outbreak at the Good Samaritan Southgate Care Centre has now resulted in 31 deaths. In total, the province has recorded 234 deaths.
AHS has reached 894,611 tests for COVID-19 of 717,514 people. This includes the 10,175 completed on Friday, 10,096 on Saturday and 8,489 on Sunday.
Teachers and school staff have been encouraged to
and the high number of tests conducted over the past week suggests many are taking Hinshaw’s advice.
Hinshaw said that while children are less likely to have severe outcomes, they can pass the virus on to older family members who are more susceptible to severe outcomes. She suggests limiting grandparent visits to online-only when school starts.
“While this is a sacrifice and it may be hard for grandparents, parents and grandchildren, it is the right thing to do to have these conversations as we move into this next phase of reopening,” she said.
Hinshaw also warned young adults to reconsider their social activities, if they aren’t taking precautions seriously.
“It’s easy to feel invincible and believe that COVID-19 is only a concern for older Albertans. It’s easy to forget the virus’s potential to cause harm if you don’t know anyone who has suffered from it. It is easy to believe this is someone else’s issue,” she said.
“You are less likely to have severe outcomes from a COVID-19 infection but, because of the way the virus is spreading in your age group, you’re now more likely to pass on this virus unknowingly.”
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