City of Calgary cancels Safety Expo due to coronavirus concerns
The number of first responders and kids in attendance made the event too risky, CEMA's chief said
The City of Calgary has cancelled Safety Expo — a community education program offered to thousands of students each year — as a precaution due to the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Safety Expo would have been held this Wednesday and Thursday with exhibitors like EMS, police and fire personnel on hand to teach Grade 5 and 6 students about safety, hazards, injury prevention and anti-bullying.
"Although all information we have from Alberta Health Services indicates that the risk to Albertans is low, the decision to cancel the annual interactive educational event is based on the large number of Grade 5 and 6 students that would be attending from across Calgary, including some with compromised immune systems," reads a Monday evening release from the city.
There are currently seven cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, in the province, and about 1,000 people have been tested. The number of global confirmed cases has surpassed 110,000.
Calgary Emergency Management Agency Chief Tom Sampson said given the outbreak, the cancellation simply made sense.
"We're not taking the position that all public events should be cancelled, but this event, given the thousands of youth typically in attendance and the amount of first responders who are essential service providers, it just made good sense to rethink," he said.
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Sampson said other events will need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, both by the organizers and attendees.
"This disease process will move from one of containment to one of personal risk mitigation," Sampson said.
"That's those things we talk about, social distancing, washing your hands, covering your cough and your sneeze, staying away from people who are ill, encouraging people who are ill to stay home. You cannot isolate or sanitize an entire community, you have to teach that personal, health-related risk mitigation."
The city said it has communicated with its partners and alerted attendees of the cancellation.
The COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in cancellations and impacted dozens of events around the world.
Recent cancellations and closures in Calgary include:
- Calgary's Olympic speed-skating oval cancelled a pair of international events due to the outbreak. The long-track Grand Prix scheduled for March 14-15 and the oval's long-track finale March 19-22 have been called off.
- One of the biggest conventions for the global energy sector, CERAWeek, has been cancelled.
- Calgary schools cancelled their overseas travel plans amid the outbreak.
- Two ATB branches were closed after an employee was confirmed to have COVID-19.
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.
With files from Joel Dryden