Ten additional cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 39.
Six of the new cases are in Calgary Zone and four are in Edmonton Zone. Two of the new cases, one in Edmonton Zone and the other in Calgary Zone, have been admitted into intensive care. All other new cases are self-isolating at home and expected to make a full recovery. Eight of the new cases have been confirmed to be related to international travel or to a previously confirmed case. Investigations are ongoing on the remaining two cases.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Chief Medical Officer of Health “Given the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, we know parents, students, and school officials are very concerned. I want to assure all Albertans that their children’s safety is top of mind in all our decisions, and we are making the best public health decisions we can with the information we have, in this rapidly developing situation. We are prepared to make changes if and when the situation warrants it.”
School update A conference call was held today with the chief medical officer of health and more than 500 representatives from Alberta’s school boards, school authorities, and education stakeholders. On March 13, Alberta recommended that schools remain open at this time. The World Health Organization does not recommend school closures as the only way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in children. Alberta continues to monitor the province’s situation carefully. If the situation warrants it, the Alberta government could direct the closure of an individual school, a group of schools, an entire school division, or all schools in the province. This would be a decision of Cabinet’s emergency management committee.In meantime, all schools should take steps to protect the health of students and staff:eliminate large gatherings of studentsensure no more than 250 people are in the same room at any given timeconsider cancelling extracurricular activities that involve physical contactA new guide has been developed to help schools and daycares reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. The guide is available at alberta.ca/COVID19.We will continue to update this document based on feedback received from education stakeholders.
Flight Information There are more and more flights with passengers confirmed to have the virus. Albertans should self-monitor their air travel, so that public health officials can use their time to trace other contacts. Those who have recently returned to Alberta via a flight, are encouraged to visit alberta.ca/COVID19 for flight information and to self-isolate if found to be at risk of exposure.Government will be posting flight information that includes the flight number, date and any seats on the flight that might be at risk of exposure to COVID-19. Passengers in affected seats are encouraged to self-isolate for 14 days after arrival in Canada and monitor for symptoms. Other passengers are not required to self-isolate but should monitor for symptoms as a precaution.Certain professions may be exempt from travel restrictions. Any exemptions are being determined on a case-by-case basis after consultation with industry stakeholders. At this time, flight attendants and pilots are exempted from travel recommendations, provided they practice good hygiene and take precautions to limit their risk.
Updated resources Flight information is posted under the “Info for Albertans” section. The new guide for schools and child care programs has been posted under “Info for schools and child care centres.” A new information sheet on mass gatherings, including risk mitigation strategies, has been posted under “Public health restrictions on mass gatherings.” Information posters are available under “Resources” for organizations and businesses to distribute.Alberta Health Services has launched an online self-assessment tool to help Albertans determine whether they should get tested for COVID-19. Over 100,000 Albertans completed self-assessments within the first 24 hours.
Quick facts Alberta’s Provincial Operations Centre in Edmonton elevated from a level 2 to a level 3 – out of a possible 4. Level 3 indicates an increased amount of cross-government coordination through the Alberta Emergency Management Agency. The most important measures that Albertans can take to prevent respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, is to practice good hygiene. This includes cleaning your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds, avoiding touching your face, coughing or sneezing into your elbow or sleeve, disposing of tissues appropriately, and staying home and away from others if you are sick. Anyone who has health concerns or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should contact Health Link 811 to see if follow up testing is required.