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Everything you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Monday, Nov. 23

Alberta reported another 1,549 new cases of the illness Monday, and new restrictions are in the works.

Alberta expected to announce new restrictions Tuesday as cases climb

A pedestrian wearing a mask crosses a street in Calgary on Nov. 19 amid a worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Alberta broke daily records for a fourth consecutive day with 1,584 new cases on Sunday. (The Canadian Press)

The latest:

  • Alberta reported another 1,549 new cases on Monday, after four days in a row of record high new case numbers. 
  • With 13,166 active cases, Alberta now has the highest active case count, not adjusted for population, of all the provinces and territories. 
  • Monday represents the sixth time Alberta has reported more than 1,000 cases in a single day, the first time was one week ago.
  • It's nearly as many new cases as reported in Ontario, which has three times the population of Alberta. Ontario reported 1,589 new cases on Monday, while Alberta reported more new cases than Ontario on Sunday.
  • Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, said in her provincial update Monday afternoon that she would immediately thereafter present recommendations for new restrictions to the government's priorities implementation cabinet committee, including Premier Jason Kenney and Health Minister Tyler Shandro. It seems likely the government will announce details Tuesday morning.
  • There are 328 people in hospital, 62 in intensive care. Five more people have died, for a total of 476 deaths as of Monday.
  • Hundreds to thousands more people will not receive contact tracing calls, as the province's contact tracing team can no longer keep up with its attempts to trace those linked to high-priority settings. Tracers will prioritize new cases, Hinshaw said. 
  • That marked a further reduction of contract tracing in Alberta. Since Nov. 6, government contact tracers have no longer notified people found to be in close contact to an infected person — unless they were deemed to be linked to a "high-priority setting" such as hospitals, schools and continuing care homes. Otherwise, Albertans have been asked for weeks to notify their own contacts.
  • There are 304 schools reporting outbreaks, or 13 per cent of schools in the province.
  • Kenney's UCP government imposed more restrictions in much of the province on Nov. 13, suspending most indoor group fitness programs, team sports and group performance activities, as well as reducing operating hours for bars and pubs until Nov. 27. The government also imposed a 50-person limit on weddings and funeral services in those regions. Kenney also strongly urged Albertans in higher risk areas not to have social gatherings in their homes, saying 40 per cent of transmissions have been at home and at social gatherings.
  • However, the restrictions fell far short of those imposed in high-risk areas in some other provinces and short of those urged in a letter to the premier by more than 430 Alberta physicians and three major health-care unions, who endorsed the idea of a "circuit-breaker" targeted lockdown.
  • Hinshaw had said Friday that Albertans would start to see the impact on the weekend of more restrictions put into place a week earlier. Instead, cases have continued to hit record highs.
  • On Monday, one of the letter's co-authors, Dr. Joe Vipond, an emergency room physician at Rockyview Hospital in Calgary, said Alberta needs a hard lockdown to reduce the rapid rise of coronavirus in the province.
  • There are more than 4,800 active cases in Calgary and nearly 6,000 active cases in Edmonton. 
  • Two health-care workers from the labour and delivery unit at Rockyview General Hospital in Calgary are now in isolation after a visitor did not disclose their COVID-19 status during the on-site screening process, AHS has confirmed.

What you need to know today in Alberta

(CBC)

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, says the province is at a precarious point, with the virus spreading more wildly and quickly than at any stage of the pandemic thus far. 

Hinshaw will be presenting her recommendations for further restrictions to government this afternoon, but declined to share details of exactly what measures she will be recommending. 

"This is like a snowball rolling down a hill, growing bigger and faster, and it will continue unless we implement strong measures to stop," she said. 

The past week has set multiple records for Alberta, which only surpassed 1,000 daily new cases for the first time on Nov. 14. The province's deadliest day was last Monday, when 20 more deaths were reported. It also surpassed 10,000 active cases for the first time — the number of active cases now sits at 13,166, and tests are showing a nearly eight per cent positivity rate. 

Contact tracing has been completely overwhelmed, with 85 per cent of active cases having an unknown source of transmission.

Hinshaw said that going forward, that means contact tracers will prioritize new cases. If 10 days have passed since an Albertan received their positive COVID-19 test result, AHS will no longer call them to investigate. AHS will also no longer be able to track and record every case linked to a school.

Hinshaw said she will hold updates every day this week.

Five more people have died, bringing the total deaths in the province to 476.

Two health-care workers from the labour and delivery unit at Rockyview General Hospital in Calgary are now in isolation after a visitor did not disclose their COVID-19 symptoms during the on-site screening process, AHS has confirmed.

Alberta Health Services recently has had to deal with several situations where designated family or support people of patients intentionally didn't disclose their COVID-19 symptom status, said Hinshaw.

"While the vast majority of Albertans understand that doing this puts loved ones and the teams caring for their loved ones at even greater risk of illness, the few who choose to do this are impacting us all," Hinshaw said Friday during a media availability.

WATCH | Dr. Joe Vipond calls for a hard lockdown for an indefinite period until the COVID-19 cases in Alberta drop significantly in the video below

Alberta in 'crisis mode' amid high COVID-19 numbers, Calgary doctor says

Canada

2 months agoVideo
1:35
Alberta needs a hard lockdown to reduce the rapid rise of coronavirus in the province, says Dr. Joe Vipond, an emergency room physician at Rockyview Hospital in Calgary. 1:35

"Please be honest. We are dealing with a multiplier effect in Alberta. We cannot afford that in our health-care facilities."

Hinshaw said the situation in Alberta was "grim" and noted that two individuals in their 30s were among the deaths announced in the past week and a woman in her 20s on Saturday.

"Having a chronic medical condition is very common," Hinshaw said. "These conditions include things like high blood pressure and diabetes. In Alberta, almost one quarter of all adults over the age of 20 have a chronic condition. That is almost 800,000 people."

Alberta's associate minister of mental health and addictions said he misrepresented government policy in a town hall when he said the province was waiting for hospital capacity to be pushed to the limit before announcing further restrictions to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

"Our criteria is measured against our hospital capacity to handle ICUs and hospitalizations. So we're waiting to see where that threshold will be pushed to our limit and then gradually reduce more activities that way," Jason Luan said during the virtual town hall for his Calgary-Foothills constituency, in a video posted to social media. 

However, Luan later said in a statement posted to Twitter on Sunday that his comments were inaccurate.

"Yes, hospital capacity is a critical consideration in any COVID-19 response … but I was incorrect in suggesting anyone is waiting until we are pushed to the limit," he wrote.

Calgary police say they've been asked 35 times since April to find and transport vulnerable citizens who have tested positive for COVID-19 but have nowhere to self-isolate. They're taken to a hospital in order to get them off the street. Officers have located all but six of the 35. 

The process is different for those who have the ability to isolate but choose not to. Those individuals can be fined under provincial health orders, and police have issued 38 tickets to those who failed to comply. 

Calgary consumers are asked to transfer the contents of a locally produced hand sanitizer called Crisis-Grade Hand Sanitizer Refill into safe glass or plastic containers. The product has been recalled due to a significant fire risk.

Should ongoing trials for COVID-19 vaccine candidates continue successfully, Alberta expects it will receive around 686,000 vaccine doses early in the new year of the Pfizer vaccine and 221,000 of the Moderna vaccine.

Health officials in Alberta have begun hunting around for specialized freezers, one of the first steps in preparing for the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines which could begin arriving within the next few months.

Earlier this month, the province began the procurement process for freezers able to meet COVID-19 vaccine storage requirements. 

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.

  • WATCH | What is a 'circuit-breaker' lockdown and does it work?

What is a ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown and does it work?

The National

2 months agoVideo
1:58

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 last week that 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. 

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 Kenney and Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

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 Monday:

  • Calgary zone: 4,845, up from 4,614 reported on Sunday.
  • Edmonton zone: 5,991, up from 5,479.
  • North zone: 748, up from 686.
  • South zone: 664, up from 11.
  • Central zone: 812, up from 714.
  • Unknown: 106, up from 91. 

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:

As of 7:30 a.m. ET on Monday, Canada's COVID-19 case count stood at 330,503, with 54,999 of those considered active cases. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC's reporting stood at 11,455.

In Central Canada, millions of residents in the Greater Toronto Area are now living under tight new restrictions as Toronto and Peel Region move into a lockdown period set to last at least 28 days. Non-essential stores in those regions will be closed to shoppers, and restaurants can only offer takeout and delivery.

Ontario reported 1,534 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, along with 14 new deaths associated with the virus. The province also said 484 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, with 147 in intensive care.

In Quebec, health officials reported 1,154 new cases of COVID-19 and 23 additional deaths. Data from the province put the number of hospitalizations at 642, with 103 in intensive care.

The province, which has seen the most cases of any jurisdiction in Canada, has reported more than 132,000 cases and 6,829 deaths.

Case numbers were also ticking upward in parts of Atlantic Canada, where a travel bubble between provinces has been in place for months. 

Nova Scotia reported 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, it's highest single day case number since May. New Brunswick reported six new cases on Sunday, after hitting a single-day record of 23 cases a day earlier.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, which reported three new cases on Sunday, the small town of Deer Lake sounded the alarm over a regional spike in cases when it announced a two-week closure of some municipal buildings and asked local businesses to follow suit. 

Health officials in British Columbia don't release updated COVID-19 figures over the weekend. The province reported 516 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the number of active cases to 7,122.

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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