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What you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Sunday, Oct. 11

Alberta now has 2,225 active cases of COVID-19, after 277 new cases were reported Friday and one new death.

Calgary doctors urge transparency about COVID-19 outbreaks at hospitals

In the biggest active outbreak in Alberta, at Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, 11 people have died and 86 have tested positive for COVID-19. The latest death makes the outbreak as deadly as the Misericordia outbreak in Edmonton over the summer. (CBC)

The latest:

  • Alberta reported 277 new cases Friday and one new death.
  • In the biggest active outbreak in Alberta, at Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, 11 people have died and 86 have tested positive for COVID-19. The latest death makes the outbreak as deadly as the Misericordia outbreak in Edmonton over the summer.
  • Outbreaks of COVID-19 have been declared in two units at the Misericordia Community Hospital in west Edmonton, Alberta Health Services said Thursday.
  • Eight patients and two health-care workers have tested positive, AHS said in a news release. Another 29 health-care workers are in isolation.
  • Alberta's chief medical officer of health unveiled additional voluntary measures designed to slow the surge of COVID-19 cases in Edmonton.
  • The Edmonton zone reported 1,329 cases on Friday, up from 1,250 on Thursday.
  • Another 277 COVID-19 cases were reported on Friday in Alberta, down from 364 on Thursday. Thursday's case count represented the highest new case count ever.
  • That brings the province to a total of 2,225 active cases, up 128 from the previous day. At the peak in late April, there were nearly 3,000 active cases in the province. 
  • As of Friday, there were 76 schools with outbreaks (of the more than 2,400 schools across the province) including 14 on the "watch" list, meaning they have five or more cases.
  • The City of Calgary on Tuesday joined the province in saying it isn't cancelling Halloween but issued a number of tips to help people mark the holiday safely.
  • Doctors and governments say the COVID-19 pandemic makes it more important than ever to get the flu shot. The influenza vaccine won't be available to the general public in Alberta until Oct. 19, but pharmacies say appointments to get the shot in the first two weeks are filling up fast.

What you need to know today in Alberta:

Alberta has never recorded more cases of COVID-19 among school-aged kids and teens than it did over the past week. Data from Alberta Health shows the number of new daily cases has continued to rise among five- to nine-year-olds and has shot up, especially, among 10- to 19-year-olds.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta' s chief medical officer of health, introduced new voluntary measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Edmonton as the province surged past the all-time high of new cases, with 364 new cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths reported Thursday.

Surging case numbers in the Edmonton zone are a big concern for Alberta public health officials. Of the 2,225 active cases reported in Alberta on Friday, 1,329 were in the Edmonton area.

The capital region is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases and Dr. Lynora Saxinger — an associate professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Alberta — says Edmontonians should be concerned.

Some Calgary doctors are calling on health officials to be more transparent about recent COVID-19 outbreaks at hospitals — and publicly release investigations into those outbreaks.

Dr. Joe Vipond, an ER physician in Calgary and a co-founder of the Masks4Canada advocacy group, said he wants to know what Alberta Health Services learned from the initial outbreak at Misericordia Community Hospital in Edmonton.

Grades 6 and 9 students in the Calgary Catholic School District will not be required to take part in provincial achievement tests this year after the province allowed school authorities the discretion to cancel them because of the pandemic.

And in the capital, Edmonton Public Schools will ask the province to suspend diploma exams for high school students in the 2020-21 academic year, the board agreed unanimously at a meeting Tuesday. 

Board trustees said requiring students to take the provincially-administered tests would add pressure to an already stressful learning environment in the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Tuesday, the City of Calgary issued some tips for navigating Halloween, which echoed ones released by the province last week, on how to safely trick-or-treat, give out candy or celebrate the holiday in non-traditional ways.

You can find a roundup of tips and ideas for Halloween from the province, the city and creative members of the public here.

A total of 86 people are in hospital, and 11 are in intensive care, as of Friday. Labs have now performed 1,498,064 tests on 1,110,134 Albertans. 

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

  • Edmonton zone: 1,329 cases, up by 79 from Thursday.
  • Calgary zone: 628 cases, up by 24.
  • North zone: 105 cases, up by 8.
  • South zone: 102 cases, down by 10.
  • Central zone: 50 cases, up by 11.
  • Unknown: 11 cases, down by 3.
(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

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

What you need to know today in Canada:

As of 5:00 a.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had 180,179 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 151,357 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 9,608.

Canada's chief public health officer has raised concern over a troubling new trend in COVID-19 infections as the country's case count rose by more than 2,000 on Saturday.

Statistics show that while the summer saw cases concentrated in people ages 20 to 39, infection rates are now accelerating among older people, Dr. Theresa Tam said.

Reports of outbreaks in long-term care centres and retirement homes have risen in recent weeks, but seem to be more contained than the eruption of cases that overwhelmed some facilities in April and May, said Tam.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Friday an additional $100 million in federal funding for food banks across Canada to help them meet the surge in demand for their services caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funding, which will flow through the Emergency Food Security Fund of Canada, was one of a slew of further COVID-19 aid unveiled by the prime minister at a noon news conference, where he was joined by a handful of his cabinet ministers and public health officials.

As a second wave of the pandemic sweeps the country and with the approach of Thanksgiving and Christmas, Trudeau predicted that food banks will be under more pressure to feed those who can't afford groceries or are afraid to venture outside their homes.

There were 809 new cases reported in Ontario on Saturday, and new restrictions took effect in three areas of the province.

Ontario reported 939 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday — its highest-ever daily number of new cases. It was also the second day in a row the province saw record-breaking daily figures, trumping Thursday's previous record of 797 set Thursday

Friday's update prompted Premier Doug Ford's cabinet to hold an emergency meeting where it was decided that Ontario will bring in targeted temporary measures in Ottawa, Toronto and Peel by moving them into modified Stage 2 restrictions for a period of at least 28 days.

The measures include closing indoor dining, gyms, cinemas, casinos, performing arts and racing venues. Schools will remain open.

The news comes as the province experiences a spike in new COVID-19 ICU admissions. The latest available one-day tally for Ontario ICUs showed eight new patients across the province by end-of-day Wednesday, a high the province's hospitals haven't hit since June 4.

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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