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What you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Thursday, Nov. 19

On Thursday, the province added eight more deaths, bringing the total in the province to 451. There are now 10,382 active cases with 284 people in hospital, 61 of whom are in intensive care.

Province reported a record 1,105 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday

More than 100 Albertans have already died from COVID-19 in November, by far the deadliest month since the pandemic began last spring. (3D4MEDICAL)

The latest:

  • Alberta reported eight more deaths and 1,105 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday.
  • Deaths in the province now total 451 and there are 10,382 active cases. 
  • There are 284 people in hospital, 61 of whom are in intensive care. 
  • Pfizer says it will formally ask U.S. regulators within days to allow emergency use of its coronavirus vaccine candidate, which it says is 95 per cent effective.
  • Alberta expects roughly 680,000 vaccine doses will arrive in early 2021.
  • Alberta Health says the median time between identifying a positive case and notifying close contacts is between seven and 10 days. 
  • A new outbreak at Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary continues to grow, with five patients testing positive on a mental health unit — climbing by three cases since the outbreak was declared last week. The hospital's earlier outbreaks, which led to 95 cases including 12 deaths, have since been declared over.
  • Chestermere council unanimously approved a mandatory mask bylaw on Tuesday evening. 
  • Hinshaw said Wednesday she continues to be concerned about the rising case numbers and the human costs.
  • There are more than 4,200 cases each in Edmonton and Calgary alone.
  • First Nations in Alberta are seeing the highest number of COVID-19 cases compared with reserves in other parts of Canada.The latest data shows 860 cases since the pandemic hit — the next closest is Manitoba with 710, according to Indigenous Services Canada.
  • Alberta hospitals are tightening restrictions on visitors as the second wave of infections hits, with patients in all hospitals now limited to one or two designated family or support people for their entire stay.  
  • Alberta's health minister is defending the province's COVID-19 tracing app despite revelations it has tracked just 19 cases since the spring.
  • Tyler Shandro said Tuesday he is in favour of all resources that help in the fight against the pandemic, but reiterated the federal app isn't a good fit for Alberta. 
  • Last Thursday, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney  announced heightened restrictions for two weeks. From last Friday to Nov. 27, in much of the province, the government suspended indoor group fitness programs, team sports and group performance activities, and reduced operating hours for restaurants, bars and pubs in much of the province. 
  • Kenney also repeated his call for personal responsibility, strongly urging Albertans living in any area under enhanced measures not to have social gatherings in their homes.   
(CBC)

What you need to know today in Alberta

Alberta saw its deadliest day of the pandemic on Monday, with 20 more deaths. It also surpassed 10,000 active cases for the first time and reached new heights for hospitalizations.

On Thursday, the province added eight more deaths, bringing the total in the province to 451. There are now 10,382 active cases with 284 people in hospital, 61 of whom are in intensive care.

Pfizer says that more interim results from its ongoing coronavirus vaccine study suggest the shots are 95 per cent effective and that the vaccine protects older people most at risk of dying from COVID-19.

The announcement, just a week after Pfizer first revealed promising preliminary results, comes as the company is preparing within days to formally ask U.S. regulators to allow emergency use of the vaccine.

Should ongoing trials for two COVID-19 vaccine candidates continue successfully, Alberta expects it will receive around 686,000 doses early in the new year.

Speaking Wednesday at a press conference, Hinshaw said potential distribution depends on the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines.

Worksites in the province's oilsands are dealing with multiple outbreaks. As of Thursday morning, there were  six active outbreaks at oilsands sites, with 10 active cases tied to those outbreaks.

Over the course of the pandemic there have been roughly 258 cases of COVID-19 linked to oilsands work sites in Wood Buffalo, according to Alberta Health. 

Alberta's health minister is defending the province's COVID-19 tracing app despite revelations it has tracked just 19 cases since the spring.

Tyler Shandro said Tuesday he is in favour of all resources that help in the fight against the pandemic, but reiterated the federal app isn't a good fit for Alberta. The province has a total of just over 10,000 active infections.

Alberta and British Columbia are the only provinces that have not signed onto the federal app, COVID Alert, which has been downloaded well over five million times.

The Opposition accuses Shandro of refusing to adopt the federal app because of long-standing personal and political friction between United Conservative Premier Jason Kenney and Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

AHS says the number of "unknown sources" among active cases on Wednesday was 76 per cent. But Hinshaw has said we should not be looking at active cases for unknown source cases. Hinshaw has said older data sets are more accurate because they have had more time to contact trace those cases. The province ultimately can't identify the sources in almost one in three cases, she said.

As of Nov. 15, about 40 per cent of cases were linked to households or social gatherings or private events, she said. Another 10 per cent were linked to continuing care centres, four per cent to child care or K-12 schools, and three per cent to acute-care outbreaks.

Hinshaw said it is critical that people who test positive follow directions and enter their close contact information into the AHS online portal. 

A south Edmonton long-term care facility at the centre of a deadly COVID-19 outbreak is facing a $8.1-million class-action lawsuit for negligence.

In a statement of claim filed Oct. 28 in the Edmonton Court of Queen's Bench, representative plaintiff Angelena Larson alleges that the not-for-profit Shepherd's Care Foundation breached its duty of care as the virus continued to spread through its Mill Woods care home.

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More than 101 cases of COVID-19 have been linked to the outbreak including 63 residents and 47 staff. Thirteen residents have died.

New provincial measures kicked in on Friday. For the next two weeks, a swathe of Alberta will suspend indoor group fitness programs, team sports and group performance activities. All restaurants, bars, lounges and pubs in Calgary and Edmonton and other areas under enhanced status (areas with more than 50 active cases per 100,000 people) must stop liquor sales by 10 p.m.

Kenney urged Albertans in any area under enhanced measures to not to have social gatherings in their homes.

A joint proposal from Canada Snowboard and Freestyle Canada for a World Cup bubble in Calgary is currently being reviewed by multiple levels of government.

The plan would see two events occurring at the WinSport Canada Olympic Park. The first, featuring ski moguls and aerials, would take place in January. The second, featuring slopestyle, halfpipe and big air World Cups, would occur in March.

The organizations are using the NHL cohort quarantine model as their pitch. Athletes and coaches would travel only between the host hotels and ski hills, with events happening in times and spaces completely separate from the public.

There are 11 cases of COVID-19 tied to the cross-country ski training community in Canmore. 

Spokesperson Chris Dornan says Nordiq Canada — the governing body for cross-country skiing in the country — is aware of a positive test within the Canmore regional training environment, and that the organization is following its response plan and working with Alberta Health Services. 

This map shows the active cases count in different health zones of Calgary and area on Nov. 19. (Evelyne Asselin/CBC)

Here is the regional breakdown of active cases reported on Thursday:

  • Calgary zone: 4,219, up from 4,201 reported on Wednesday.
  • Edmonton zone: 4,388, up from 4,157.
  • North zone: 658, up from 628.
  • South zone: 540, up from 532.
  • Central zone: 508, up from 454.
  • Unknown: 69, down from 85. 

Find out which neighbourhoods or communities have the most cases, how hard people of different ages have been hit, the ages of people in hospital, how Alberta compares to other provinces and more in: Here are the latest COVID-19 statistics for Alberta — and what they mean

What you need to know today in Canada:

Canada's COVID-19 case count — as of 4:30 p.m. ET — stood at 314,110, with 51,625 of those considered active cases. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC's reporting stood at 11,256.

In Saskatchewan, health officials reported one additional death and 132 more COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the number of active cases in the province to 2,099.

The province recently stepped up its public health regulations, making masks mandatory in indoor public spaces and limiting the number of people allowed at private indoor gatherings to five. 

Manitoba's top doctor said Wednesday it's a "very daunting time" in the province as health officials announced 11 additional deaths and 400 more cases of COVID-19. Hospitalizations in the province hit 249, with 40 in intensive care.

Dr. Brent Roussin said in recent days contract tracers have dealt with hundreds of cases that don't have a known source of exposure to the novel coronavirus.

In Nunavut, health officials reported 10 additional cases on Wednesday, bringing the number of confirmed cases to 70.

There was one new case reported in Yukon on Wednesday and no new cases reported in the Northwest Territories.

In hard-hit Ontario, Premier Doug Ford on Wednesday warned that some of the province's "red" zones could be facing another lockdown. The province reported 1,417 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and 32 new deaths. Hospitalizations stood at 535, with 127 in intensive care.

Quebec on Wednesday reported 1,179 new cases of COVID-19 and 35 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including eight that occurred in the past 24 hours.

Health officials said hospitalizations increased by 14, to 652, and 100 people were in intensive care, the same number as the prior day.

In Atlantic Canada, there were nine new cases of COVID-19 reported in New Brunswick, with five of the new cases in the Moncton area. 

There were three new cases reported in Nova Scotia and two new cases reported in Newfoundland and Labrador. In Prince Edward Island, which has just three active cases, there were no new cases reported.

B.C. Premier John Horgan said he is calling on the federal government to implement a "pan-Canadian approach" to non-essential travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

AstraZeneca and Oxford University's potential COVID-19 vaccine produced a strong immune response in older adults, data published on Thursday showed, with researchers expecting to release late-stage trial results by Christmas.

The data, reported in part last month but published in full in The Lancet medical journal on Thursday, suggests that those aged over 70, who are at higher risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19, could build robust immunity.

Self-assessment and supports:

With winter cold and influenza season approaching, Alberta Health Services will prioritize Albertans for testing who have symptoms, and those groups which are at higher risk of getting or spreading the virus.

General asymptomatic testing is currently unavailable for people with no known exposure to COVID-19.

Those who test positive will be asked to use the online COVID-19 contact tracing tool, so that their close contacts can be notified by text message.

The province says Albertans who have returned to Canada from other countries must self-isolate. Unless your situation is critical and requires a call to 911, Albertans are advised to call Health Link at 811 before visiting a physician, hospital or other health-care facility.

If you have symptoms, even mild, you are to self-isolate for at least 10 days from the onset of symptoms, until the symptoms have disappeared. 

You can find Alberta Health Services' latest coronavirus updates here.

The province also operates a confidential mental health support line at 1-877-303-2642 and addiction help line at 1-866-332-2322, both available 24 hours a day. 

Online resources are available for advice on handling stressful situations and ways to talk with children.

There is a 24-hour family violence information line at 310-1818 to get anonymous help in more than 170 languages, and Alberta's One Line for Sexual Violence is available at 1-866-403-8000, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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