The surging number of COVID-19 cases in the city of Edmonton could lead the province to impose additional measures to bring down the level of transmission, Dr Deena Hinshaw warned Monday.
“The large number of cases identified over the weekend in Edmonton is concerning,” Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said at a news conference.
“We have seen an escalation of cases in Edmonton, an increase in the reproductive number to 1.3 last week, and a rise in active cases to 894. We are taking this seriously and looking closely at what causes or driving this increase that we are seeing.
“Through conversation with local public health and the city, we are determining if additional measures should be recommended in the city to bring transmission down.”
According to the province’s data, between Sept. 28 and Oct. 4, there were 714 new cases in the Edmonton zone, compared to 502 new cases in all other zones combined.
Hinshaw said even with new measures, case numbers could continue to rise.
“I do want to emphasize a point that I’ve made before, which is that the new cases that we’re seeing right now are a reflection of transmission events that happened one to two weeks ago,” she said.
“So we should expect, no matter what changes we may or may not choose to make in the coming days to weeks … we will see high numbers of cases over the next one to two weeks, which is a product of past transmission.”
On Monday, the province reported eight more deaths due to COVID-19 over the last three days and an alarming 578 new cases of the disease.
The province recorded 97 cases Friday, 263 on Saturday and 218 on Sunday.
Sick? Stay home, Hinshaw urges
Hinshaw said one of the factors leading to the climbing numbers in the province is that many people — 11 per cent — are attending work or social gatherings while symptomatic and awaiting test results.
“This is a significant risk and is one of the factors causing our case numbers to rise,” she said. “I want to be clear, if you are sick, you need to stay home.
“If you are sick, you should not go to social gatherings of any kind, this includes the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend.”
While the province is testing thousands of people a day and returning results faster than ever, it’s all for nothing if people with symptoms continue to go out, she said.
“This is the system’s side of the bargain, to give results as quickly as we can. But our side of the bargain as Albertans, to stay home when sick while waiting of results is fundamental,” she said.
“We cannot prevent a second wave or limit the spread of COVID in Alberta if we do not all take these basic steps.”
The province now has 1,783 active cases, 225 more than Friday, and has recorded 280 deaths.
There are 62 people with COVID-19 in hospital, including 14 in intensive care.
The regional breakdown of active cases was:
- Edmonton zone: 982 cases, up from 835 cases Friday.
- Calgary zone: 624 cases, up from 568 cases.
- North zone: 105 cases, up one case from Friday.
- South zone: 47 cases, up from 31 cases.
- Central zone: 22 cases, up from 19 cases.
- Unknown: three cases, up from one case.
Deaths of 8 seniors
Of the deaths reported Monday, two were seniors not in continuing care — a man in his 80s and a woman in her 70s both in the Edmonton zone.
The deaths of a man in his 90s and woman in her 70s are linked to the outbreak at Extendicare Eaux Claires in Edmonton.
The deaths of a woman in her 90s and another woman in her 60s are linked to the outbreak at Mill Woods Shepherd’s Care Centre in the Edmonton zone.
The remaining two deaths are linked to the outbreak at Calgary’s Foothills Medical Centre outbreak: a man from the South zone in his 60s and a man from the Calgary zone in his 80s.
There are 65 outbreaks in Alberta schools as of Monday. Ten schools with five or more cases are under watches.
‘Not a normal Thanksgiving’
Hinshaw urged Albertans to scale back Thanksgiving celebrations.
“I sympathize with the desire to be with the people we love most, celebrate all that we have to be thankful for. However, this is not a normal Thanksgiving,” she said.
“I urge you to keep your gatherings limited only to your household and cohort members, no more. I ask that you keep gatherings as small as possible, eat outdoors if possible and don’t share serving spoons or dishes.”
Anyone who is even slightly sick should refrain from celebrating, she said.
“The greatest tragedy would be for Thanksgiving dinner to turn into an opportunity for COVID to spread to our loved ones, potentially with severe consequences.
“Let’s celebrate all that we are thankful for by protecting each other, not taking chances.”