Edmonton

Public health officials tracking COVID-19 outbreak linked to family gatherings in Edmonton

Public health officials are tracking an outbreak of COVID-19 linked to two family gatherings in Edmonton.

Province reported 34 new cases on Monday

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw updates media on the COVID-19 situation in Edmonton on Friday, March 20, 2020. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

Public health officials are tracking a small outbreak of COVID-19 linked to two family gatherings in Edmonton.

Ten cases have so far been linked to the private gatherings, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the chief medical officer of health, said Monday at a news conference.

"We know of 10 cases linked to these gatherings but investigations are continuing to be underway, so we'll see if there are more cases that are identified," Hinshaw said. "I commend the individuals involved for getting tested as soon as they felt symptoms. This has helped us trace and limit further spread of the infection."

Outbreaks linked to social gatherings are not unexpected now that some restrictions are being relaxed, she said.

It's still important for people to follow public health measures whenever they get together, said Hinshaw, who reminded people to stay two metres apart from anyone outside their own household or cohort family.

She also urged people not to share food or drinks with people outside their household or cohort families, since that greatly increases the risk of infection by passing containers or serving spoons from person to person.

"I know it may be difficult or even seem rude to ask guests to bring their own food and drink and not share it, but it is necessary," she said. "Outdoor gatherings have a lower risk than indoor gatherings, so if you are getting together with those outside your household or cohort family, stay outside if possible."

Latest numbers

The province reported 34 new cases of the illness on Monday, bringing the total number of active cases to 400.

Across Alberta, 53 people were hospitalized for COVID-19, with six of them in ICU beds. No new deaths were reported.

A total of 6,501 people have now recovered from the illness.

Alberta's emergency management cabinet committee is expected to meet this week to discuss when to begin Stage 2 of the province's relaunch plan.

The 90-day state of public health emergency declared in March is set to expire on June 15, and Premier Jason Kenney has already said it will not be renewed.

"As we move forward and restrictions are lifted, things will get easier," Hinshaw said. "But we must remember that the new normal is not the same as the old. We must remain committed to supporting each other, both to stay safe and to stay connected."

During Stage 1, she said, Albertans have generally done a good job of following public health orders, and case numbers have remained low.

It's important for the public not to become complacent, or feel that physical distancing restrictions are no longer necessary, she said.

"I wonder a bit about the recent bit of an uptick in numbers, if that's a reflection of a feeling that COVID is over, that we're past COVID."

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