Edmonton

Coronavirus yet another challenge 'thrown at Alberta,' premier says

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says it's difficult to watch global oil prices fall due to reduced demand tied to the novel coronavirus outbreak at the same time his government refocuses its efforts on job creation.

'We're being sideswiped by global events that are beyond our control'

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks to reporters Monday about the impact the coronavirus outbreak is having on the province. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says it's difficult to watch global oil prices fall due to reduced demand tied to the novel coronavirus outbreak while his government refocuses its efforts on job creation.

"I won't hide it: it frustrates me that I think we're doing everything that we reasonably can to get this economy moving again," Kenney said Monday. "And yet we're being side-swiped by global events that are beyond our control."

Spread of the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has resulted in a downturn in the global economy, pushing down oil prices.

"It's very clear the coronavirus situation is affecting the global economy," Kenney said. "Mass reduction in air travel, in demand for energy products and commodities generally will affect us.

"We hope it doesn't get any worse than it is today. I take some solace in seeing a declining number of infections in China."

Kenney said the worldwide outbreak is yet another challenge "thrown at Alberta."

Alberta's budget, introduced last week, is banking on the West Texas Intermediate benchmark for oil at $US 58 a barrel. But the price has been hovering around $50.

On Monday, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said Alberta Health Services is asking travellers returning from Iran within the last two weeks to isolate themselves in their home for 14 days while monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19.

"This is a new step and one we do not take lightly," Hinshaw said at a news conference in Edmonton.

Travellers returning from Hubei province in China have been asked to do the same.

Last week Hinshaw asked people coming from mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Iran, Korea, Japan and Italy to monitor their health for 14 days and self-isolate if they begin to feel ill.

Hinshaw said there are no probable or confirmed cases in Alberta.

"However, with increasing spread around the world, it is even more likely that we will eventually see cases here in Alberta," she said.

With files from CBC News

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