What you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Friday, March 27
Calgary is considering closing some lanes on roads to limit community transmission
- Public gatherings in Alberta will now be restricted to 15 people or fewer, said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, at Friday's news conference.
- There are 56 new cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, bringing the total in the province to 542.
- The province announced some relief for renters as part of Friday's news conference.
- Alberta has banned vehicle access to its provincial parks and recreation areas.
- Calgary also banned all team sports such as cricket, baseball, basketball, Frisbee and football (whether organized or informal), closed skate parks and said that although sport courts and fields could stay open, they could only be used for biking or walking.
- Calgary is closing portions of some roads to cars in order to free up space for pedestrians and cyclists.
- Alberta is looking to free up 2,250 hospital beds to deal with the pandemic.
- The Alberta government will provide additional disaster funds to help farmers.
What you need to know today in Alberta:
There are now 23 people in the hospital, 10 of them in intensive care units due to COVID-19. Hinshaw said we need to take action so hospitals are not overwhelmed.
The Alberta government moved Friday to restrict public gatherings, including family get-togethers, religious ceremonies, weddings and funerals, to 15 people or fewer.
The province also ordered the immediate closure of all non-essential businesses, including close-contact businesses such as hair salons and barber shops, tattoo and piercing studios and esthetic services, as well as wellness studios and clinics.
All restaurants are no longer allowed to have dine-in service but can continue to offer takeout and delivery.
Non-essential retail stores such as clothing stores, computer and gaming stores and services in shopping malls such as hobby and toy stores, gift and specialty item stores, and furniture stores, must also close.
The closures also includes non-emergency and non-critical health services provided by regulated health professionals or registered professionals, including dentistry, physiotherapy, massage, podiatry and optometry services.
Effective immediately, AHS will postpone any diagnostic imaging procedures considered non-urgent by the ordering physician.
Hinshaw said the system is working for now, but there are 33 cases where the source of infection is not known and that could mean further community spread.
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It's one of the reasons Calgary is looking at shutting down lanes on some roads in order to free up space for those getting outside. Currently, there are bottlenecks on the pathway system that do not allow for appropriate physical distancing.
And as the number of cases rises in a southeast Calgary senior home, some organizations are taking steps to help those most vulnerable to the virus.
As of Friday, the majority of the cases in Alberta are located in the Calgary zone. By region, the number of cases:
- Calgary zone: 337.
- Edmonton zone: 120.
- Central zone: 43.
- North zone: 30.
- South zone: 12.
What you need to know today in Canada:
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today announced more help for small and medium-sized businesses, including a 75 per cent wage subsidy and guaranteed interest-free loans.
The financial cost of the pandemic is still not known, but a report from the Parliamentary Budget Office gives the first hint of the magnitude, saying the deficit this year could be $89.5 billion higher than expected at $112.7 billion.
That report was followed by an announcement from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that a wage subsidy for small businesses would be increased significantly, from 10 per cent to 75 per cent.
Also on Friday, the Bank of Canada once again cut its target for the overnight rate, lowering it 50 basis points to 0.25 per cent. It's the second unscheduled cut in two weeks.
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Canada's chief public health officer said that to date, 6.1 per cent of cases in Canada require hospitalization, 2.6 per cent of cases fall critically ill and require ICU care, and one per cent of cases prove fatal.
As of 8 p.m. ET Friday, Canadian health officials had reported more than 4,700 confirmed and presumptive cases, with 55 deaths, surpassing the 44 Canadians who died in the SARS outbreak, which was far less widespread with a little over 8,000 cases of infection around the world.
There has also been one reported COVID-19 related death of a Canadian abroad when a former passenger of the Diamond Princess cruise ship died in Japan.
Alberta Health Services has an online self-assessment tool that you can use to determine if you have symptoms of COVID-19.
Testing is focused on individuals who are most at risk from the virus, or those most at risk of passing it on to others.
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The province says Albertans who have returned to Canada after March 12 must self-isolate for 14 days. 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 10 days, from the onset of symptoms, or longer if the illness persists.