What you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Thursday, Oct. 1

Alberta's largest active COVID-19 outbreak, at the Foothills hospital in Calgary, continues to grow, with five deaths and 67 confirmed cases, while Alberta's death toll in the pandemic climbed by three on Thursday to a total of 270.

Calgary man, sick with COVID-19 after Foothills hospital stay, wasn't notified about outbreak

The City of Edmonton is not considering additional municipal restrictions to help curb the spread of a new COVID-19 variant in the community. (Helen Pike/CBC)

The latest:

  • A fifth patient has died and a total of 67 cases are now tied to the outbreaks at Calgary's Foothills hospital: 35 patients, including five fatalities, 29 health-care workers, and three visitors who were in contact with patients linked to the outbreaks. Another 154 staff, bringing the total to 290, are self-isolating. 
  • Another 173 people in Alberta tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the total active cases to 1,596, up 14 since the last update on Wednesday.
  • Across the province, 52 schools have reported outbreaks of two to four cases. Another seven schools are on the watch list, meaning they have five or more cases. 

What you need to know today in Alberta:

A total of 67 patients, staff and visitors have tested positive for COVID-19 at Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary. It's the second largest outbreak tied to a health-care institution in the province since the pandemic began.

Alberta Health Services said Thursday there are a total of 35 positive patient cases linked to the outbreaks, 29 positive health-care workers, as well as three positive visitors. 

Five patients have died, including a man in his 70s whose death was announced on the weekend, an 82-year-old man who had been in a cardiac unit suffering from congestive heart failure since August and a woman in her 70s in the cardiac unit. 

As of Thursday, 290 health-care workers were self-isolating. AHS said that number would be updated twice weekly.

A Calgary woman says her husband ended up sick with COVID-19 a week after being released from the Foothills hospital cardiac unit and no one from Alberta Health Services alerted them to the danger.

An outbreak has also been declared in one unit at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton. According to Alberta Health Services, the outbreak involves three health-care workers. At-risk patients in the unit have been tested and no positive COVID-19 cases have been identified among patients. AHS did not identify which health unit was affected.

The largest outbreak at a health-care institution so far in the province involved the Misericordia Community Hospital in west Edmonton, which has reopened after closing its doors to new patients in early July in response to a full-facility outbreak that killed 11 and infected 58.

There are 1,596 active COVID-19 cases in Alberta as of Thursday. Of the 64 people in hospital, 12 are in intensive care.

Here's the regional breakdown of active cases reported on Thursday:

  • Edmonton zone: 851 cases, up 18 from Wednesday's update. 
  • Calgary zone: 587 cases, up 2.
  • North zone: 102 cases, down 6.
  • South zone: 32 cases, down 5.
  • Central zone: 19 cases, unchanged.
  • Unknown: 5 cases, up 4.

An NDP motion to make Alberta's chief medical officer of health more independent was defeated Wednesday by UCP MLAs on a committee examining changes to the Public Health Act. The position currently operates in an advisory role to cabinet.

The number of contact tracers in Alberta has risen to about 1,000, with hundreds joining Alberta Health Services since mid-July.

Lori Henneigh, acting manager with an AHS COVID-19 outbreak team in Red Deer, spoke about the job with CBC Edmonton host Adrienne Pan on Wednesday. Henneigh explained why contact tracing is getting harder and what keeps the investigators on her team going.

Limousine operators in Edmonton are urging the city to waive all licence fees this year, as business has nearly ground to a halt. 

Several representatives of taxi and limousine companies appeared at city hall Tuesday to convince councillors on the community and public services committee to give them a break. 

A snapshot of the active cases by neighbourhood in Calgary as of Oct. 8. (CBC)

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 3:40 p.m. ET on Thursday, Canada had 160,279 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 136,089 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC's reporting stood at 9,349.

The Liberal government is spending $10 billion in infrastructure initiatives such as broadband, clean energy and agricultural projects as part of its plan to boost growth and create one million jobs after the pandemic pummelled the economy.

Air Canada has ordered 25,000 testing kits that can detect COVID-19 in someone in as little as five minutes, a key hurdle for an industry that's desperately trying to make it safe and possible for travellers to fly again.

The first batch of tests will be for employee volunteers, now that the devices by Abbott Laboratories have been approved for use in Canada by federal health and safety authorities, the airline said Thursday.

The House of Commons has unanimously passed legislation authorizing new benefits for workers left jobless or underemployed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the process, the minority Liberal government has survived its first pandemic-era confidence test, assuring at least for now that there will be no election as COVID-19 cases spike across the country.

Canadians living in the United Kingdom are weighing whether to return home as they watch coronavirus case numbers rise sharply in that country.

As many as 95,000 Canadians are estimated to have been living in the U.K. in  2019, according to data from Britain's Office for National Statistics.

Canada's economy continued its recovery in July from the first wave of COVID-19, with the country's gross domestic product expanding by three per cent.

Statistics Canada reported Wednesday that all 20 sectors of the economy grew as businesses continued to reopen and tried to get back to some sense of normal after lockdowns in March and April.

The federal government is offering to send the Canadian Red Cross into COVID-19 hotspots as case numbers rise and parts of the country slip into a second wave, according to sources.

A senior government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the government has been reaching out to hard-hit regions recently experiencing outbreaks and surges.

Self-assessment and supports:

Alberta Health Services has an online self-assessment tool that you can use to determine if you have symptoms of COVID-19, but testing is open to anyone, even without symptoms. 

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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