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What you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Wednesday, Oct. 21

The number of active cases in Alberta continues to reach new heights at 3,203, topping the previous peak of 3,138 a day before.

Alberta reported 406 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, orange, emerging from the surface of cells, green, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. The sample was isolated from a patient in the U.S. (NIAID-RML/The Associated Press)

The latest:

  • Alberta reported 406 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday.
  • The number of active cases in Alberta continues to reach new heights with 3,372 on Wednesday, topping the previous peak of 3,203 on Tuesday.
  • Alberta Municipal Affairs Minister Tracy Allard tested positive on Wednesday afternoon. Premier Jason Kenney is self-isolating and being tested. 
  • Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, says she is concerned about the growing hospitalization rise, which is 3.1 per cent — five per cent would trigger additional restrictions. 
  • The three most recent deaths were a man in his 60s from the Edmonton zone, a man in his 70s also from the Edmonton zone and a woman in her 70s who was linked to an outbreak at Carewest George Boyack centre in Calgary.
  • At least 49 active cases of COVID-19 have been linked to a wedding held earlier this month in Calgary, attended by 63 people. 
  • Alberta is no longer testing asymptomatic people with no known exposure. Labs have been processing more tests than ever before, largely due to the increase in Albertans with cold and flu symptoms, Hinshaw said. 
  • Experts have raised red flags about the province's contact tracing as the number of cases with no known source remains high. 
  • The City of Calgary, with 1,174 active cases, is on watch. The City of Edmonton, with 1,649 active cases, is on enhanced restrictions.

What you need to know today in Alberta:

The number of active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta has reached 3,372, the highest ever recorded in the province. The previous record of 3,203 was reported on Tuesday. Before this week, which has set new records for multiple days in a row, the highest active case total was 3,022, which was reported on April 30 at the peak of the first wave.

Hinshaw said the province is at a critical point, as hospitalizations increase, where more restrictions could potentially be implemented.

A "superspreader" wedding with 63 people in attendance has led to at least 49 cases of COVID-19. 

Aggressive contact tracing is underway to identify anyone who may have been exposed and ensure they are isolating and getting tested. Anyone at risk is being contacted directly by Alberta Health Services. 

The City of Calgary was moved onto the province's watch list Friday. Edmonton remains under enhanced restrictions.

Alberta is pausing asymptomatic testing for people with no known exposure to the coronavirus, Hinshaw said Tuesday. 

(CBC)

Psychologists have worried about the mental health toll of rising COVID-19 cases and tightened restrictions for months — add in the shorter days and colder weather of the approaching season, and Albertans could be in for what one expert called a "long, dark winter."

Noreen Sibanda, a registered provisional psychologist in Edmonton, says restrictions on social gatherings can negatively impact peoples' mental health by taking away support systems and interactions they may not have even realized they needed.

She said it's important for people to keep the routine of communication going with their friends and family, just in a modified way this winter.

Here's the regional breakdown of active cases reported on Wednesday.

  • Edmonton zone: 1,649, up from 1,607 cases reported Tuesday.
  • Calgary zone: 1,174, up from 1,043.
  • South zone: 203, up from 199.
  • North zone: 189, down from 198.
  • Central zone: 140, down from 145.
  • Unknown: 17, up from 11.
A snapshot of the active COVID-19 cases by health district in Calgary as of Nov. 9. (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 8:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Canada had 206,360 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 173,748 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC's reporting rose to 9,829.

Officials at the EU have moved to halt Canadians from travelling to the bloc of European nations amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Canadian retailers logged $53.2 billion in sales in August, the fourth month in a row that sales have increased since cratering in April because of COVID-19.

But preliminary numbers for September show that sales flattened during that month, a discouraging sign that the recovery may be running out of steam.

Only a fraction of Ontario's COVID-19 cases have used the national COVID Alert app to report their infections, hampering the app's effectiveness in slowing the second wave of the pandemic in the province.

Figures provided by the provincial government show COVID Alert users have reported 1,354 cases through the app since its launch on July 31.

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 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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