Alberta records one more death, 64 new cases of COVID-19
'We're really focused on understanding where in our communities are we seeing local transmission'
Alberta reported another death from COVID-19 on Tuesday and 64 new cases of the illness.
That brings the total number of deaths in the province to nine and the number of cases to 754, which includes 77 health-care workers.
Most of those health-care workers did not contract the coronavirus while treating patients, the province's chief medical officer of health said, but were instead infected while travelling outside the country or at an Edmonton bonspiel held earlier this month.
Seventy-five of the total number of cases are thought to have been contracted within the province, Dr. Deena Hinshaw said at her daily news conference on Tuesday.
The regional breakdown of cases is:
- Calgary zone: 453
- Edmonton zone: 187
- Central zone: 51
- North zone: 50
- South zone: 12
- Unknown: 1
"Following public health orders does not mean we can't continue to support each other or to help the most vulnerable," Hinshaw said.
"We are all in this together and now, more than ever, kindness matters."
Hinshaw was asked about the death on Monday of a 30-year-old father of three from northern Alberta. While she wouldn't elaborate on the man's chronic health conditions, she said anyone with diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma or other medical problems is at higher risk for developing severe illness.
"My message for younger people would be that even if you don't have a chronic health condition, you need to make sure that you are protecting yourself against COVID-19, because even if you yourself have a mild illness, you could spread that disease to others and continue to be a part of having disease spread in your community, could be a link to having other people who get severe illness.
"So the important thing is to follow the recommendations about social distancing. Staying home when sick is critical, even with mild illness, and knowing that it's not just for yourself, but for those around you, that you're doing those things."
The day before, Hinshaw said epidemiological modelling suggests that for each community-transmitted case detected so far, there are likely two others that have not been captured by testing.
Hinshaw said she hopes to make more modelling data available to the public by the end of this week.
On Monday, Hinshaw revealed that five more people had died from COVID-19.
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Hinshaw also corrected information she gave out Monday that one of the people who died was a resident at Rosedale on the Park on 111th Street in Edmonton.
Hinshaw said the man in his 80s was not living at the assisted-living centre at the time of his death.
Changes in the daily number of cases reported were expected, Hinshaw said, due to several factors.
"We have stopped testing returning travellers, so we knew that our daily positive numbers would go down," she said. "We have also had a decrease in the total daily tests in the lab over the past few days, given some challenges with lab testing supplies."
Late last week, the province announced it was switching the focus of its coronavirus testing to concentrate on high-risk populations, such as frontline health-care workers and the elderly.
Over the weekend, Hinshaw said, a shipment of re-agent used for testing was briefly delayed. But that shipment has now arrived and testing capacity is expected to return to normal, she said.
So far, 48,692 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Alberta.
It will take several days under the new testing protocols, Hinshaw said, to get enough data to understand where trends are headed.
As the week unfolds, Hinshaw said, she and her team will be closely monitoring the spread of the virus to see if the new testing protocols are working.
"This week, I think, one of the critical things we're watching is our numbers," she said. "With the switch in our testing strategies, we're really focused on understanding where in our communities are we seeing local transmission, and how we can put a stop to that."
Public health officials will also watch to see whether new measures put in place at long-term-care facilities are effective in combating outbreaks.