Alberta reports 961 new cases of COVID-19 over Thanksgiving weekend, 4 more deaths

Dr. Deena Hinshaw urged Albertans on Tuesday to stop skipping testing appointments and to co-operate with the efforts of contact tracers.

Albertans chastised for skipping tests, frustrating the efforts of contact tracers

Dr. Deena Hinshaw updated Albertans on COVID-19 case numbers Tuesday, the first time in four days. (Art Raham/CBC)

Alberta is reporting 961 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths over the Thanksgiving weekend.

The province counted 236 cases Friday, 259 cases Saturday, 246 Sunday and 220 Monday.

There are now 97 people in hospital with the disease, 13 of those in intensive care.

Alberta has 2,615 active cases, up from 2,225 Friday.

The four deaths involved: a woman in her 50s who is linked to the outbreak at Millwoods Shepherds Care Centre in Edmonton; a man in his 80s who was a patient at Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary; a woman in her 60s linked to the outbreak at Lifestyle Options Terra Losa in Edmonton; and a woman in her 70s from the Edmonton area who was not in continuing care. 

While the province completed almost 60,000 tests for COVID-19, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, expressed frustration that many people are not bothering to show up for their tests or cancel their appointments. 

High no-show rate for tests

Assessment centres are seeing a high number of people not showing up for COVID-19 tests that they had booked, causing delays in available appointments for those who need them, she said at a news conference Tuesday.

For example, she said, Calgary saw a 14-per-cent no-show rate over the past weekend.

"It is easy and convenient to change or cancel your testing appointment online, freeing up your spot for someone else," she said. "Please help us make the system as effective and efficient as possible.

"Cold and flu season has begun, and as I've said before, we are seeing a rising number of people with COVID-like symptoms that increases our demand for testing."

Hinshaw announced the province will no longer conduct drop-in tests at AHS assessment centres starting Wednesday. Only about seven per cent of tests are done through the drop-in option, she said. 

Another frustrating trend is the increasing number of people reluctant to share information with contact tracers, including where they may have been exposed to the virus, where they have been while infectious, and with whom they've been in contact, Hinshaw said.

Contact tracers feeling the heat

"It is understandable that people are tired of COVID, and angry at the ways that their lives have been disrupted. Unfortunately, choosing not to work with contact tracers does not make that better. It makes it worse.

"If you are diagnosed with COVID, please don't turn any understandable anger against the contact tracers, who are doing their job as part of a collective effort to maintain manageable levels of transmission."

The long weekend break came after a week where a record was set for the highest number of new cases in a day in the province and where the number of active cases surged in the Edmonton zone, putting the capital region at a "critical juncture," according Alberta's chief medical officer of health.   

"I continue to be concerned by the rise in cases," Hinshaw said Tuesday. "The Edmonton zone remains the hot spot in the province, with 1,444 active cases right now."

The surge has prompted Hinshaw to introduce voluntary measures in the region such as limiting social gatherings to 15 people, encouraging the use of masks in all indoor work settings and limiting the number of people's social groups, or cohorts, to three.

Whether those in the Edmonton region have taken heed will take a few days to tell as numbers released each day are a reflection of events one to two weeks ago, due to the lag in the appearance of symptoms and testing process.

Latest numbers

So far, 286 Albertans have died of COVID-19.

Here is the regional breakdown of active cases:

  • Edmonton zone: 1,444 cases
  • Calgary zone:  754 cases 
  • North zone:  127 cases
  • South zone: 160 cases
  • Central zone: 109 cases
  • Unknown: 21 cases


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