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What you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Sunday, Oct. 18

The City of Edmonton is bringing in additional COVID-19 measures in response to voluntary health restrictions in the Edmonton zone announced last week. The measures mainly affect capacity at city facilities and events, as well as some changes to transit.

Calgary was added to Alberta's COVID-19 watch list Friday with 686 active cases

Two women wear masks in Calgary in a file photo from April. Calgary was added to the province's COVID-19 watch list on Friday. (The Canadian Press)

The latest:

  • No new numbers will be released by the province today. Numbers from Saturday and Sunday will be released on Monday.
  • Alberta reported 332 new cases of the disease on Friday, but no additional deaths. 
  • Calgary was moved onto the watch list as it currently 686 active cases, which is 50.9 per 100,000 people.
  • A new outbreak was reported at Calgary's Rose and Crown Pub Friday, with six active cases and one recovered case linked.
  • An outbreak was also declared related to an informal Calgary social event "featuring a large number of Calgarians." Forty-two cases are linked to this outbreak.
  • The total active cases in the biggest active outbreak in Alberta, at Foothills Medical Centre, is now 89 as of Saturday. Eleven people have died. The hospital says it still has no conclusive proof how the outbreaks started.
  • Three cardiology patients at the University of Alberta Hospital's Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Health officials are keeping a close eye on hospital capacity as Alberta's COVID-19 cases continue to surge, driving hospitalization numbers to a new high.
  • There are 117 people in hospital as of Friday, 11 of whom are in intensive care.
  • Alberta reported 332 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the total active cases to 2,836, up 98 from the previous day.
  • The province has now completed 1,598,145 COVID-19 tests, with 14,155 completed on Thursday.
  • The bulk of the cases continue to be in Edmonton, which now has 1,525 active cases. 
  • The total deaths in Alberta from COVID-19 remains at 288.
  • Ninety-one schools now have outbreaks, 22 of which are in the watch category because there are five or more cases. Sixty-one schools have had in-school transmission.
  • The Calgary Catholic School District said Thursday that there are 35 positive cases in its schools, resulting in 935 students and 88 staff members in self-isolation for 14 days. "This is a significant increase from last week," the board said.

What you need to know today in Alberta:

There are concerns that difficulties involved in contact tracing — both manual and digital — could hamper the province's ability to slow the spread while COVID-19 cases rise. 

Of the 1,812 new cases reported in Alberta last week, 772 (43 per cent) have an unknown source.

The City of Calgary was moved onto the province's watch list Friday, as it currently has 686 active cases, which is 50.9 per 100,000 people.

"At this time, I am not recommending any additional measures for Calgary. But we are working with local partners to monitor the situation closely," Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said Friday.

According to Hinshaw, Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings, including a private gathering linked to 42 active cases, all of which are active. The informal social event featured "a large number of Calgarians," according to AHS.

Designated spectator seating at city recreation centres, like arenas, will operate at 25 per cent capacity (up to 50 spectators, or 100 in larger arenas). There will be no spectator access in arenas without designated seating.

Dr. Peter Jamieson, the medical director for the Foothills Medical Centre, said there's still an active investigation into the outbreaks at the Calgary hospital that have so far claimed 11 lives, infected 89 others and sent hundreds of health-care workers into isolation.

"We still don't have conclusive proof as to the origin of the outbreaks and we can't speculate," Jamieson said at a news conference Thursday.

"The preliminary conclusion that we've reached is that we don't think there is a single source that explains all of the outbreaks we're seeing."

Investigators believe there are linkages between the outbreaks that occurred on two medical cardiology units and one intensive care cardiac unit, but are still investigating links between other units.

Of the 89 confirmed cases connected to the outbreaks, 46 were patients (11 currently active and in hospital), 38 were health-care workers and five were visitors, he said.

Alberta Health Services confirmed Wednesday that three cardiology patients at the University of Alberta Hospital's Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute in Edmonton had tested positive for COVID-19.

All patients are isolated and teams are working to determine where the outbreak started and how the infection was transmitted. Contact tracing efforts are underway to help identify health-care workers who need to isolate, Williamson added.

Currently, none of the institute's services have been affected, but AHS noted that there is potential for a reduction.

AHS said there was no connection between the Mazankowski and Foothills outbreaks.

(CBC)

According to provincial data, Alberta hit an all time high on Monday with 102 Albertans hospitalized and 13 of those patients in intensive care. 

Hockey Edmonton is starting its season with cohort groups to keep teams safe. Players will be facing off against increasingly familiar faces under the new cohort system adopted as a pandemic precaution, but that isn't diminishing the excitement of teams preparing for the puck to drop. 

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

  • Edmonton zone: 1,525 cases, up 28 from Thursday.
  • Calgary zone:  820 cases, up 32.
  • North zone:  145 cases, up 15.
  • South zone: 202 cases, up 11.
  • Central zone: 132 cases, up 16.
  • Unknown: 12 cases, down 4.
A snapshot of the active cases by district in Calgary as of Oct. 20. (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 10:15 a.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had 196,981 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 166,132 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 9,751.

Tougher restrictions are coming to Winnipeg as Manitoba's COVID-19 caseload ticks upward, while Ontario's premier is urging gym enthusiasts in hard-hit regions not to venture elsewhere to work out.

Manitoba health authorities reported 75 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, which was a fraction of Thursday's record increase of 173 new cases in 24 hours.

Meanwhile, the Northwest Territories said three people have received presumptive positive test results for the virus.

Newfoundland and Labrador also reported three new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Friday related to travel.

Last Saturday, the province imposed new restrictions in three hot spots: Ottawa, Toronto and the Peel Region, west of Toronto. Indoor dining at restaurants and bars is prohibited. Gyms, movie theatres and casinos are closed. The measures are to last at least 28 days.

Tightened restrictions imposed earlier this month in the greater Montreal and Quebec City areas, as well as the Chaudière-Appalaches region south of the provincial capital, are to last until at least Oct. 28.

WestJet will soon no longer fly to Moncton, Fredericton, Sydney, Charlottetown and Quebec City and drastically cut back its service to St. John's and Halifax.

The Calgary-based airline said Wednesday it is eliminating 100 flights, which represent about 80 per cent of the airline's service in and out of Atlantic Canada.

The airline also says it is also suspending operations to Quebec City, by removing its flight between there and Toronto.

"It has become increasingly unviable to serve these markets," CEO Ed Sims said. "Since the pandemic's beginning, we have worked to keep essential air service to all of our domestic airports.

However, demand for travel is being severely limited by restrictive policies and third-party fee increases that have left us out of runway without sector-specific support."

Health-care providers in multiple provinces are struggling to keep up with demand for the flu vaccine, as Canadians hope to fend off a "twindemic" of influenza and COVID-19.

The online booking system in Montérégie, Que., crashed on Tuesday, the first day residents were able to book an appointment through the regional health authority.

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 asymptotic testing is no longer available to anyone, but voluntary asymptomatic testing is available to:

  • school teachers and staff.
  • health-care workers.
  • staff and residents at long-term care and congregate living facilities.
  • any Albertans experiencing homelessness.
  • travellers requiring a test before departure.

Additional groups can also access asymptomatic testing if required.

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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