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Alberta

Five Albertans die from COVID-19 today. Crack down on mandatory self-isolation. Provincial update (March 30)

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From the Province of Alberta

Update 17: COVID-19 pandemic in Alberta (March 30 at 5:30 p.m.)

Five more Albertans have died from COVID-19, bringing the total to eight deaths in the province.

An additional 29 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 690. While these numbers are lower than in recent days, this may be attributed to fewer lab tests completed due to challenges with lab testing supplies. Lab testing is now back to full capacity.

Latest updates

Cases have been identified in all zones across the province:

    • 422 cases in the Calgary zone
    • 164 cases in the Edmonton zone
    • 46 cases in the Central zone
    • 45 cases in the North zone
    • 12 cases in the South zone
    • One case in a zone that is yet to be confirmed
  • Of these cases, there are currently 28 people in hospital, with 11 admitted to intensive care units (ICU).
  • In total, there have been 47 hospitalizations, with 17 admissions to ICUs.
  • Sixty-five of the 690 cases are suspected of being community acquired.
  • There are now a total of 94 confirmed recovered cases.
  • There have been a total of five new deaths reported since the March 29 report – two in the Edmonton zone, two in the Calgary zone, and one in the North zone. There are now a total of eight deaths in Alberta.
  • Two people from the McKenzie Towne Long Term Care have passed away. Forty-one people are confirmed to have tested positive for the virus at the facility – 36 are residents and five are staff.

Linkages have been made to this outbreak over the last few days and the reported cases are not all from the last 24 hours.

  • The person who tested positive at Edmonton’s Rosedale on the Park facility has also died.
  • The Edmonton zone recently reported an outbreak at Shepherd’s Care Kensington. The number of cases remains at four in that facility.
  • Aggregate data, showing cases by age range and zone, as well as by local geographical areas, is available online at alberta.ca/covid19statistics.
  • All Albertans need to work together to help prevent the spread and overcome COVID-19.
  • Restrictions remain in place for close-contact businesses, dine-in restaurants and non-essential retail services. A full list of restrictions is available online.
  • Albertans are prohibited from attending gatherings of more than 15 people, and they must continue to observe two metres of social distancing. This includes events both indoors and outdoors, such as family gatherings, weddings and funerals. Further details are available online.

Exploring faster lab testing

Alberta Health Services (AHS) is partnering with a Canadian technology company to provide rapid testing for COVID-19 for Alberta.

Spartan Bioscience is developing a COVID-19 test kit that would allow AHS lab workers to test for suspected COVID-19 in rural communities, rather than needing to send test samples to the two centralized laboratories in Edmonton and Calgary. More details are available in this AHS news release.

Isolation rules

To align with new federal rules under the Quarantine Act, Albertans under mandatory self-isolation are now required to remain inside and can only go for walks on their own property, such as their backyard, for the duration of their self-isolation.

  • They can no longer go for walks in their neighbourhoods or through parks until their self-isolation period ends.
  • People who live in apartment buildings or highrises must stay inside and cannot use the elevators or stairwells to go outside.

This applies to everyone in mandatory self-isolation – those who are feeling well and those who have symptoms of COVID-19 including cough, fever, shortness of breath or a runny nose.

Albertans are legally required to self-isolate for 14 days if they:

  • returned from travel outside of Canada after March 12
  • are a close contact of a person who tested positive for COVID-19 (provides care, lives with or has close physical contact, or comes into direct contact with infectious body fluids)

If you become sick during this time, you must self-isolate for an additional 10 days from the beginning of symptoms or until you are feeling well, whichever takes longer. Read more about how to self-isolate.

Charities and non-profit organizations

Eligibility criteria for emergency funding for charities and not-for-profit organizations impacted by COVID-19 is available at https://www.alberta.ca/emergency-funding-for-charities-and-not-for-profit-organizations.aspx.

List of essential workplaces

The list of essential workplaces that can continue to operate in Alberta can be found online.

Mental health supports

AHS has boosted its service to help Albertans should they need to speak with someone about mental health concerns.

If Albertans call the Mental Health Help Line at 1-877-303-2642 or the Addiction Help Line at 1-866-332-2322 between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m., seven days a week, they will be connected directly to a dedicated team of AHS addiction and mental health staff.

This will allow the 811 health team to focus on COVID-19 calls during the day and improve wait times for others needing telephone advice. Calls placed from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. will continue to be routed through 811.

Emergency isolation supports

Emergency isolation supports are available for Albertans who are self-isolating or who are the sole caregivers for someone in self-isolation, and have no other source of income. Applicants can view eligibility criteria and apply at alberta.ca. To carefully manage the flow of applications, we are periodically closing access to MADI and the emergency isolation support. We will provide daily updates about system availability.

There is no formal deadline for emergency isolation support. This is a temporary program to bridge the gap until the Federal Emergency Care Benefit is available.

Quick facts

  • The most important measures that Albertans can take to prevent respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, is to practise good hygiene.
    • This includes cleaning your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds, avoiding touching your face, coughing or sneezing into your elbow or sleeve, disposing of tissues appropriately.
  • Anyone who has health concerns or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should complete an online COVID-19 self-assessment.
  • For recommendations on protecting yourself and your community, visit alberta.ca/COVID19.

 

The Truth Of This Epidemic

Alberta

Alberta First Nation monitors hundreds for COVID-19 as it announces curfew

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SIKSIKA NATION, Alta. — A First Nation in southern Alberta has implemented a curfew as its health workers monitor more than 200 people for signs they may have developed COVID-19.

Siksika Nation Chief Ouray Crowfoot said in video messages posted on Facebook that as of Thursday there were 21 known COVID-19 positive cases with links to the community west of Calgary, and that five separate and unrelated case clusters had been uncovered in the previous 12 days.

Crowfoot said that as of Wednesday, 258 Siksika Nation members were under “active investigation and daily followup” by the community’s health services team — a number he said had quadrupled in only three days.

On Friday, councillors approved a temporary curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. local time, with exceptions that Crowfoot said can be made on an as-needed basis for work or other reasons.

Crowfoot encouraged Siksika Nation members to co-operate with health officials if they call, and to avoid non-essential travel to nearby cities. 

He said the risk of community transmission is high and that each new case cluster makes it even harder to contact trace and isolate people fast enough.

“We realize you have freedom of choice but we don’t have freedom of consequence. If we choose not to follow these guidelines, the consequence may be that we contract the virus and spread the virus further through our community,” Crowfoot warned in a video message posted Thursday.

In a message posted Friday, Crowfoot said his community had met meeting with federal Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller and Alberta Indigenous Affairs Minister Rick Wilson to address shortfalls in resources for dealing with the pandemic.

Crowfoot said the community’s annual Sun Dance ceremony was continuing, but that each participant was being tested prior to entering and that health workers were screening people as they came and went.

“It is understandable that people may feel anxious regarding this current situation, but if we continue to stay vigilant to the public health measures and do our best to limit travel and to avoid gatherings we have a chance to slow down the spread on our nation and also give our health team a chance to do their job,” Crowfoot said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 4, 2020

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

‘You have to show up:’ NDP MP questions virtual attendance of Alberta Tories

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EDMONTON — Alberta’s only non-Conservative member of Parliament says she’s disappointed some of the province’s Tory MPs haven’t been participating in virtual House of Commons special COVID-19 committee meetings.

The Commons, which had largely been adjourned since mid-March to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, initially only met to pass emergency aid legislation and to come to a new agreement on how the chamber should function.

In late May, the New Democrats joined forces with the governing Liberals to waive normal proceedings for another four months and continue with an expanded version of a special COVID-19 committee that has acted as a stand-in for the chamber.

Both Conservative and Bloc Quebecois MPs voted against the virtual sittings because they wanted more parliamentary oversight.

There have been 14 of the new hybrid sessions since the change at the end of May, but a tally by the NDP shows the average attendance for Conservative members from Alberta was about 42 per cent; the number was confirmed by The Canadian Press through online minutes.

NDP MP Heather McPherson, who represents Edmonton Strathcona, has attended all the online meetings and said she doesn’t understand why other Alberta politicians aren’t participating.

“I’m a little shocked,” she said in an interview this week. “It feels to me like Alberta MPs, more than any MPs in the rest of the country, need to be fighting for Albertans.

“We need all the help we can get.”

Of the 33 Alberta Conservative MPs, none has attended all 14 meetings. About a dozen have attended more than half, and four haven’t participated at all.

Len Webber, who represents the Calgary Confederation riding and is also chairman of the Alberta Conservative caucus, said the attendance numbers were news to him.

“I get on when I can,” he said.

The meeting minutes posted online show Webber attended two of the special COVID-19 meetings early on in the pandemic and hasn’t participated in any since the May 26 change.

Other politicians who haven’t attended any of the last 14 meetings are Calgary Heritage MP Bob Benzen, Edmonton Riverbend MP and health critic Matt Jeneroux and Calgary Signal Hill MP Ron Liepert. 

Webber said it’s not a boycott by the Conservatives. He suggested many members — including himself — are busy with other meetings. He’s on the health committee, for example, and online minutes show that he’s attended all of those meetings.

There are also regular Zoom calls with other members to prepare for meetings and ongoing constituency issues to address, he said.

“There are good reasons why some MPs can’t attend.”

Webber questioned whether the attendance numbers were accurate.

He added that there’s only so many questions that can be asked by MPs at the special COVID-19 committee meetings.

“There are certainly Alberta MPs who ask questions,” he said. “They are there representing their constituents.”

McPherson said the NDP voted to have the hybrid meetings so every member had the opportunity to participate in Parliament and represent their constituents.

“We were able to ask questions,” she said.

A previous restriction that prevented MPs from asking questions on issues other than the pandemic was one of the changes made at the end of May.

McPherson said she has asked about worker safety at the Cargill meat-packing plant in southern Alberta, help for people with disabilities and support for Alberta’s small businesses that weren’t qualifying for government assistance during the pandemic.

She suggested there’s also value in hearing other issues politicians are raising.

McPherson said she’s particularly surprised that some of her fellow Alberta MPs didn’t attend at all, as people across the province are going through a difficult time.

“I’m really happy to work with anyone from any party … but you have to show up,” she said.

McPherson admitted the current system isn’t perfect, but said it’s a good compromise that helps contain the spread of COVID-19 by preventing people from flying to Ottawa from all over Canada for in-person sessions.

“We couldn’t do business as usual.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 4, 2020

Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press

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