What you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Saturday, March 14
Event cancellations piled up in Alberta as authorities caution against large public gatherings
- The confirmed cases in Alberta sat at 39 as of Saturday afternoon, according to Alberta's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw. Six new cases are in the Calgary zone and four are in the Edmonton zone.
- Two of the new cases, one in the Edmonton zone and one in the Calgary zone, have been admitted to intensive care.
- Eight of the new cases are related to international travel or a previous confirmed case. Investigators are looking into the causes of the other two cases.
- Alberta's Provincial Operations Centre in Edmonton raised its alert level to 3. The highest level is 4.
- 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 a 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. More than 300,000 people have taken the online self-assessment so far.
- The province is asking Albertans to self-monitor their air travel, by checking alberta.ca/COVID19 to see if they were at risk of exposure from a confirmed case on a flight.
- The province said Friday it would pause plans to cut the number of front-line health-care workers in Alberta during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Alberta government held a conference call with more than 500 representatives from schools and education stakeholders to discuss the new COVID-19 guidelines for schools and daycares. The guidelines include "zero tolerance" for kids at school with respiratory symptoms.
- Alberta is continuing to recommend that schools remain open but is monitoring the situation. Dr. Deena Hinshaw said if schools are closed, they would likely remain closed for eight to 12 weeks.
- 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.
- Hinshaw said public gatherings of more than 250 people should be cancelled, as well as international events. New guidelines on mass gatherings were posted online on Saturday.
- Hinshaw also advised against travelling outside of Canada.
- All Albertans are asked to self-isolate for 14 days when returning from outside the country.
- 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
CBC News will continue to keep an eye on event cancellations over the weekend, but 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.
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 Saturday, more than 7,069 tests had been conducted in the province, the vast majority of which came back negative.
As of early Saturday morning, provinces in Canada were reporting almost 200 presumptive and confirmed cases.
- Ontario has reported 79 cases, including five the province lists as resolved.
- B.C. has reported 64 cases, including one death and four the province lists as recovered.
- Alberta has reported 29 cases.
- Quebec has reported 17 cases.
- Manitoba has 3 presumptive cases.
- Saskatchewan has reported 2 presumptive cases.
- New Brunswick has 1 confirmed case.
- 1 case confirmed among Grand Princess cruise passengers at CFB Trenton.
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.
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.
- Mount Royal University is transitioning away from in-person classes.
- Classes at the University of Alberta are suspended until further notice.
- University of Lethbridge has suspended classes for March 16 and 17 with alternate delivery beginning March 18.
- 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.
- Chinook Centre announced it is shortening its hours from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. starting Monday.
- 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 Anglican Diocese of Calgary has suspended all public services until March 31.
- 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,
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Common symptoms include:
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?
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.