Alberta has 49 new cases of COVID-19, bringing total to 195
Seniors in residences now restricted to visits from just one family member or friend
Alberta has 49 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the province's total to 195 cases, says Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health.
Eleven of the 195 cases may be community transmission, but investigations are continuing, Hinshaw told a news conference Friday.
Only Calgary and Edmonton seem to be seeing community transmission cases, Hinshaw said.
Ten COVID-19 patients are in hospital, including five in intensive care — three more in ICU in the last 24 hours.
Of the new cases in ICU, one is in their 70s and another is in their 60s, Hinshaw said. She did not have the age of the third new ICU patient. The two other patients in ICU are in their 40s and 60s.
"We knew this would happen; this is why were taking these extraordinary measures," Hinshaw said. "This shows that this is a virus to be taken very seriously ... every single case is one that could potentially end up in a very serious condition."
Cases have been identified in all zones across the province:
- 126 cases in the Calgary zone
- 43 cases in the Edmonton zone
- 17 cases in the North zone
- Five cases in the South zone
- Four cases in the Central zone
On Thursday, Hinshaw announced the pandemic has already claimed one life in Alberta.
An Edmonton man in his 60s died Wednesday, less than a week after being admitted to a hospital intensive care unit.
Three individuals have been reported as recovered, Hinshaw said.
Strict new rules for visiting seniors
Hinshaw announced new restrictions on visits to seniors' residences.
Under previously announced rules, visitors were restricted to family, friends or paid companions.
But now, only a single individual from this group may visit. The individual will need to be designated by the resident or their guardian.
The visitor must be verified and undergo a health screening prior to entering the facility. They may be subject to a questionnaire or temperature check beforehand.
"Facilities must have security staff or greeters to conduct this screening or verify that the visitor is designated," Hinshaw said.
Exceptions will be made to family members of seniors who are dying, as long as only one visitor enters at at a time, she said.
"These measures will be extremely difficult for residents of seniors facilities," she said.
There are other ways to connect with seniors to mitigate feelings of loneliness and isolation, Hinshaw said.
"All of us can make regular phone calls to our elder loved ones part of our new normal."
Hinshaw said she is often asked about whether funerals can be held.
They can, but they must be attended by no more than 50 people and social distancing must be maintained, she said.
"I know it is heartbreaking to refrain from hugging loved ones at something as difficult as a funeral, but please trust that these practices, as painful as they are, are necessary to prevent the spread of this dangerous and contagious illness.
"Anyone ill, even with mild symptoms, must not attend," she said.
Hinshaw taking time off to recharge
Hinshaw, the face of of the province's public health response to COVID-19, said the importance of self-care "in these uncertain, stressful times" can't be overstated.
In that spirit, she said she is taking some personal time this weekend to rest and recharge with her family.
She said she will be back for another briefing on Monday, and that Saturday's update will be provided by Dr. Marcia Johnson, Alberta's deputy chief medical officer of health.