Calgary

Closures, cancellations and more: What you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Friday, March 13

The flood of cancellations and closures tied to fears of COVID-19 is continuing on Friday, including classes being suspended at the University of Calgary, University of Lethbridge and University of Alberta. while cities, companies and institutions prepare emergency plans.

Cancellations and closures continue as Alberta confirms another four cases, all in Calgary health zone

Public schools remain open in Alberta, but classes at several universities have been suspended in response to the spread of COVID-19. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

THE LATEST:

  • Total confirmed cases in Alberta sits at 29 as of Friday afternoon, all related to travel, according to Alberta's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw.
  • Employees will now be able to take 14 days of paid job-protected leave to cover the 14-day self-isolation period recommended by Hinshaw.
  • There will also be no requirement to have a medical note for such leave, or to have worked for an employer for 90 days to qualify.
  • Health Link has new self-assessment tool online at ahs.ca/covid. It's the same one used by Health Link staff to determine if a person needs to be tested.
  • All jury trials at Court of Queen's Bench in Alberta between now and May 31 will be postponed. Lawyers will be able to re-elect for a judge-only trial.
  • The union representing WestJet flight attendants is expecting layoffs of over 50 per cent of its staff in the wake of cancellations due to COVID-19. WestJet said it is one of several scenarios being contemplated. 
  • Edmonton city councillors voted on Friday to suspend council and committee meetings until March 30 as part of the city's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The City of Calgary enacted its emergency plan late Thursday, which gives the Calgary Emergency Management Agency additional powers to make quicker decisions.
  • The University of Calgary, University of Alberta and University of Lethbridge suspended classes on Friday.
  •  All four of the new cases announced on Thursday are in the Calgary health zone. 
  • Hinshaw is to give another update on the spread of COVID-19 in Alberta at 3:30 p.m. Friday.
  • Hinshaw said public gatherings of more than 250 people should be cancelled, as well as international events. 
  • Hinshaw also advised against travelling outside of Canada. 
  • All Albertans are asked to self-isolate for 14 days when returning from outside the country.
  • In Edmonton, city council has convened an emergency meeting for Friday morning to discuss its response to the pandemic, which could including closing recreation centres. 
  • On a national level, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau detailed the new measures during a news conference Friday. Among them, the federal government is warning against all international travel and is limiting inbound flights in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
  • Trudeau, himself, is in self-isolation due to the confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis for his wife, Sophie.

What you need to know today

It's likely that more closures will be announced throughout the day and it's best to check ahead of time to confirm whether or not your planned event is still a go, or the location you're headed to is open. 

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While the province advised cancelling all events involving more than 250 people, and many organizations promptly did just that, the advisory is not targeted at schools, post-secondary institutions, places of worship, grocery stores, airports or shopping centres. 

Alberta Health says its 811 Health Link phone line has been inundated with over 5,700 calls per day and long wait times are to be expected, particularly during peak times. It says additional staff are being trained. 

A spokesperson stressed the phone line does not have access to test results and asks Albertans to visit alberta.ca/covid for information if a health assessment is not required. 

As of Thursday, 4,288 tests had been conducted in the province, the vast majority of which came back negative. 

Across Canada

As of early Friday morning, provinces in Canada were reporting almost 160 presumptive and confirmed cases. 

Justin Trudeau, who is in self-isolation with his wife, who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, said on Friday that his government is considering all options to contain the spread of the virus, including border restrictions and will restrict incoming international flights to certain airports. 

The list of airports is not yet known. 

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He also said his government is looking at plans to support those unable to afford rent or groceries during the pandemic, but it's not clear what that could involve. 

Also on Friday morning, all parties voted to suspend Parliament. 

Cancellations and closures

Notices are coming in fast, so again, it's best to check in before you head out to a venue or event. But there are significant closures or postponements to be aware of. 

  • University of Calgary suspends all in-person classes — moving them to remote learning.
  • Classes at the Universities of Lethbridge and Alberta are suspended until further notice.
  • One school in Calgary, the Renert School, said it will close for two weeks starting on March 16. 
  • The Drop-In Centre, Calgary's largest  homeless shelter, is cancelling all volunteer shifts and future volunteer opportunities until further notice. 
  • All events at the Jack Singer Concert Hall, Max Bell Theatre and Martha Cohen theatre in Calgary's Arts Commons are cancelled. 
  • Vertigo Theatre has also cancelled its productions for the time being. 
  • All events at Edmonton's Citadel Theatre, including the Collider Festival have been cancelled or postponed. 
  • Edmonton's Telus World of Science is closed. 
  • The Calgary Philharmonic and the Edmonton Symphony have cancelled their performances. 
  • The Jubilee Auditoria in Edmonton and Calgary are closed. 
  • Calgary's Glenbow Museum is closed. 
  • Events of over 250 people are cancelled at the Edmonton Conference Centre. 
  • Organizers of the Calgary International Auto and Truck Show have cancelled their event. 
  • The Edmonton Home and Garden Show has been postponed. 
  • The Edmonton Flamenco Festival is cancelled. 
  • All programs, events and large room bookings at Calgary's public libraries have now been cancelled. Volunteer placements have also been suspended as have public room-booking services. Libraries, however, remain open. 
  • Calgary has cancelled its annual youth hiring fair.
  • Spruce Meadows has cancelled its Winter Farewell and Spring Welcome tournaments.
  • Ismaili Muslim places of prayer are closed until further notice. 
  • The Calgary Stampede has postponed its annual chuckwagon canvas auction and the upcoming Aggie Days.
  • TELUS Spark Science Centre will be closed to the public, including all events and programs,

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What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever.
  • Cough.
  • Tiredness.

But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia, which can lead to death.

What should I do if I feel sick?

Isolate yourself and call your local public health authority. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested.

How can I protect myself?

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Be aware of evolving travel advisories to different regions.

More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.

Important reminder: The World Health Organization said more than 80 per cent of COVID-19 infections are estimated to be mild.

  • Have you got a news tip tied to the COVID-19 outbreak? You can reach CBC Calgary at calgarynewstips@cbc.ca or CBC Edmonton here

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