Three more COVID-19 deaths linked to outbreak at Misericordia hospital

Alberta reported three more COVID-19 deaths on Thursday, all of them linked to a growing outbreak that has forced the Misericordia Community Hospital in Edmonton to close its door to new patients and cancel all surgeries.

Edmonton hospital now closed to all new patients

Three more COVID-19 deaths have been linked to an outbreak at the Misericordia Community Hospital in Edmonton. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

Alberta reported three more COVID-19 deaths on Thursday, all of them linked to a growing outbreak that has forced the Misericordia Community Hospital in Edmonton to close its doors to new patients and cancel all surgeries.

That brings the total number of deaths at the hospital to six and the provincial total to 161 since the beginning of a raging pandemic that has utterly changed every aspect of life in Canada and across much of the world.

As of Thursday, 16 patients at the hospital had tested positive for COVID-19, though no new cases were identified among patients in the last 24 hours. In addition, 16 staff have tested positive, an increase of one case since Wednesday.

The three most recent deaths at the hospital were men in their 70s, 80s and 90s.

The hospital remains under what is called a "full facility outbreak" closure, which has temporarily closed all services to incoming patients, including the emergency department.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro reacted to the latest news on Thursday with several comments posted on Twitter.

"I and my department are closely monitoring the situation at the Misericordia," Shandro wrote. "Clinical teams are taking every possible step to protect patients, staff and physicians. Our hospitals remain safe, and this outbreak is being managed as safely and effectively as possible.".

In its latest online update, Alberta Health reported 37 new cases of the illness on Thursday, bringing the total number of active cases to 584.

The regional breakdown of active cases on Thursday was:

  • Calgary zone: 220
  • Edmonton zone: 215
  • South zone: 90
  • North zone: 42
  • Central zone: 11
  • Unknown: 6

One staff member at the Drayton Valley Hospital and Care Centre has tested positive for COVID-19, Alberta Health Services spokesperson Kerry Williamson said Thursday in a statement.

The single case is not considered an outbreak.

"As per process, extensive contact tracing is underway and anyone who has been in contact with this case will be contacted directly," Williamson said. "There are a number of staff at the facility who are self-isolating as a precaution, which has presented some staffing challenges.

AHS is proactively pausing non-essential services at the hospital beginning Friday morning, he said, so staff can be redeployed to areas of greatest need. Emergency and acute care continue to be provided.

As of Thursday, 46 people were being treated in Alberta hospitals for COVID-19, with seven of them in ICU beds.

Almost 7,800 people have now recovered from the disease. The province has conducted 507,169 tests.

Also on Thursday, Information and Privacy Commissioner Jill Clayton released her report about the province's ABTraceTogether app, saying she found that Alberta Health was mindful of privacy and security in deploying the contract-tracing mobile app.

The report, Clayton said in a news release, highlighted Alberta Health's "clear purpose to supplement already established contract-tracing processes, its consent-based approach, limited collection of health or personal information when registering to use the app, and AH's efforts to mitigate the risk of secondary use of information collected by the app, specifically for quarantine enforcement."

Clayton said she still has concerns related to the functionality of ABTraceTogether on Apple devices.

"Given the need to run ABTraceTogether in the foreground on Apple devices, there is a security risk," Clayton said. "Running the app on Apple devices requires a device to remain unlocked, which significantly increases risk in case of theft or loss."