What you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Sunday, March 15
There are now 56 cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, all K-12 schools are cancelled
- All K-12 schools, preschools and post-secondary institutes in Alberta will see classes cancelled indefinitely and child-care centres will be closed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Premier Jason Kenney said Sunday.
- Kenney told media Sunday that 17 new cases had been confirmed in the province in the past 24 hours, taking the total to 56 in Alberta.
- The City of Calgary declared a state of local emergency, ordering recreation facilities and library branches be closed until further notice. The city also ordered that buildings' official occupancy be reduce to 50 per cent, or a maximum of 250 occupants, whichever is lower.
- The City of Lethbridge also closed all recreation and cultural facilities, starting Monday.
- Two new cases were acquired through community transmission from an unknown source, so it's not known how many people in the community may have COVID-19.
- Seven cases happened because of a single gathering in the Calgary zone.
- All long-term care and other continuing care facilities are being told to limit visitation to essential visitors only.
- Places of worship are no longer exempt from restrictions on mass gatherings.
- Post-secondary campuses will remain open, but classes are being cancelled or moved online.
- K-12 students will receive final marks, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said, and students will progress to their next grade level next year.
- Grade 12 students who are eligible to graduate and at this time, diploma exams essential for post-secondary acceptance will still be held.
- Teachers and other school staff will still work, either from school or from home.
- Approved day homes are exempt from the closures because they care for fewer than seven children at a time.
- Alberta's Provincial Operations Centre in Edmonton raised its alert level to 3. The highest level is 4.
- The government committed an additional $500 million to the COVID-19 response.
- Employees can take 14 days of paid job-protected leave to cover the 14-day self-isolation period recommended by Dr. Deena 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 Court of Queen's Bench in Alberta is limiting all hearings to emergency or urgent matters only, and all other matters are adjourned.
- 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.
- 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, Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne recommended Saturday that Canadians travelling abroad should return to Canada while commercial transportation is still available.
- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau 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.
The province advised cancelling all events involving more than 50 people that's expected to have international participants or involves critical infrastructure staff or high-risk populations. All mass gatherings of 250 or more should be cancelled.
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 7,108 tests had been conducted in the province, the vast majority of which came back negative.
As of early Sunday morning, provinces in Canada were reporting almost 250 presumptive and confirmed cases.
- Ontario has reported 98 cases, including five the province lists as resolved.
- B.C. has reported 73 cases, including one death and four the province lists as recovered.
- Alberta has reported 56 cases.
- Quebec has reported 24 cases.
- Manitoba has reported 4 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.
- All K-12 schools in Alberta have cancelled classes.
- All post-secondary schools have either cancelled classes or moved classes online.
- 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 and Market Mall will shorten their hours for two weeks, at which point they will re-evaluate.
- 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.