Alberta cases of COVID-19 double to 14, medical officer reports
Dr. Deena Hinshaw urges caution about making plans to travel outside Canada
The number of reported cases of COVID-19 in Alberta doubled on Tuesday to 14, and the province's chief medical officer of health is now warning people to be cautious about making plans to travel outside the country.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw provided her latest update on Tuesday, detailing the seven new cases and outlining the ongoing work to protect public health.
Three of the new cases are from the Edmonton zone. The other four are from the Calgary zone, Hinshaw said.
One person whose case was previously announced is currently receiving treatment in hospital. The person, who is in stable condition, had a pre-existing chronic condition.
All 14 of the cases confirmed in Alberta so far have been travel-related, Hinshaw said, which means health officials are not seeing evidence of the illnesses spreading within the province.
The new cases in the Edmonton zone involve a man in his 70s and a woman in her 60s who were travelling together. The third Edmonton-area case involved a woman in her 30s who had recently travelled outside of Canada.
The four cases in Calgary involve a man in his 50s, two women in their 30s and a woman in her 40s.
All of the new cases are recovering in isolation at home.
The travellers had returned from France, the Netherlands, Egypt, Iran, Taiwan, Germany, Malaysia, Trinidad and Tobago, the Philippines and the United States.
Several of the travellers visited more than one country on their trip. One was also on the same MS Braemar cruise ship in the Caribbean as a case announced on March 8.
"The fact that all of our confirmed cases are travel-related indicates that we continue to take the right approach at this time," Hinshaw said. "Our public health measures are doing precisely what they were intended to do — detect new cases and take immediate action."
Hinshaw said the number of cases in the province is likely to continue to rise over the coming weeks.
The jump of seven cases in the past 24 hours, she said, shows the public health system is likely capturing "a two-week summary" of people who are arriving back in the province after contracting the virus outside the country.
In her comments Tuesday, Hinshaw included a warning for people with travel plans.
"The risk around the world does continue to increase, which is why I'm asking Albertans to think very carefully before making travel plans for out of the country."
The chief medical officer of health said she is aware that there have been cases where people who returned from trips outside Canada have gone to work while feeling ill.
Those likely occurred, she said, before the province expanded its warnings to include all other countries. Originally, health officials warned only about travelling to seven "countries of concern."
"What we're doing is catching up, I suppose," Hinshaw said. "And we're really trying to emphasize now ... that going forward, anyone who returns from travel and has any symptoms of fever or cough, even if it's a mild cough, should not go to work, should not leave the house, should call 811 and get tested."
The seven cases announced before Tuesday were:
- A woman in her 50s who lives in the Calgary health zone contracted coronavirus while on board the Grand Princess cruise ship before it was quarantined off the coast of California. She returned to Alberta on Feb. 21 and is currently in isolation at home. Her case, the first in Alberta, was reported Thursday, March 5.
- A man in his 40s who lives in the Edmonton zone tested positive for COVID-19 last Friday. He had visited Michigan, Illinois, and Ohio before returning to Alberta on Feb. 28.
- On Sunday, Hinshaw announced the province's third and fourth COVID-19 cases — a man in his 60s from the Edmonton zone, and a woman in her 30s from the Calgary zone who is a close contact of someone who had recently travelled in Europe.
- On Monday, Hinshaw announced that a woman in her 70s who lives in the Edmonton zone has COVID-19. She is a close contact of an Edmonton-zone man with COVID-19 whose case was announced on Sunday. Like the man, the woman was on-board the Grand Princess cruise ship before returning home on Feb. 21. Her symptoms started after she got home to Alberta.
- Also Monday, the province announced that a man in his 30s from the Calgary zone has the illness. He is a close contact of the Calgary-zone woman announced as a case of COVID-19 on March 8. The man had travelled to Ukraine, the Netherlands and Turkey. He returned to Alberta on March 2. His symptoms started after his return.
- A third case was also announced Monday: a woman in her 50s from the Calgary zone who was aboard the MS Braemar cruise ship from Feb. 11 to March 4. She developed symptoms after getting home and was tested on Sunday.