Gateway Gazette

Update 10: COVID-19 Pandemic in Alberta

March 23 at 5:00 p.m.

Forty-two additional cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 301. Aggressive public health measures continue to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

Latest updates

  • Cases have been identified in all zones across the province:
    • 188 cases in the Calgary zone
    • 68 cases in the Edmonton zone
    • 19 cases in the North zone
    • 17 cases in the Central zone
    • Eight cases in the South zone
  • Of these cases, 18 are currently hospitalized, seven have been admitted to intensive care units (ICU), and one patient has died. One case is unknown as the zone is being determined.
  • The number of confirmed recovered cases remains at three. A longer-term process for determining timely reporting of recovered cases is underway.
  • Aggregate data, showing cases by age range and zone, as well as by local geographical areas, is available online at alberta.ca/covid19statistics.
  • Travellers who returned to Alberta after March 12 and have mild symptoms will no longer be tested for COVID-19. Instead, the same advice applied to all Albertans will apply to them – to self-isolate at home and away from others. This change is effective going forward, so anyone who has already been told by Health Link that they will be tested will still get tested.
  • Testing will be prioritized for the following individuals, if they are symptomatic:
    • People who are hospitalized with respiratory illness.
    • Residents of continuing care and other similar facilities.
    • People who returned from travelling abroad between March 8 and 12, before the self-isolation protocols were in place.
  • Anyone with symptoms who does not fit any of these categories should stay home and self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days from the start of their symptoms, or until symptoms resolve, whichever is longer.
  • Several people have contacted AHS to offer their help as health-care volunteers. Though the outpouring of support is appreciated, at this time volunteer resources will be reaching out to contact registered volunteers where needed. For more information, Alberta Health Services has guidelines in place online.
  • A bonspiel event was held in Edmonton March 11 to 14, during which some physicians were exposed to COVID-19. We have determined that 11 of the 47 Alberta health-care workers who attended the event have now tested positive for COVID-19. Many of these are physicians. Some of these individuals worked early last week before notification came through of the case associated with the event, and all contacts are being notified as per usual local public health followup. More information will be communicated as details are confirmed.
  • People not experiencing symptoms are being reminded that they can and should get outside, keeping in mind the importance of social distancing and restrictions on mass gatherings.
  • Albertans should consider remaining close to their home communities and avoid driving long distances to participate in outdoor activities, particularly in mountain parks. Many of the services Albertans are used to having, like washrooms, rest stops and restaurants, are closed on Alberta highways, in parks and at tourist attractions.
  • AHS has launched a new text-based service to give Albertans encouragement and ease feelings of stress or anxiety as they respond to recent challenges. Albertans can text COVID19Hope to 393939. In response, they will receive daily text messages on how to focus on healthy thinking or actions to help them manage their mood.
  • All Albertans need to work together to overcome COVID-19. Albertans are asked to share acts of kindness they have experienced in their community during this difficult time by using the hashtag #AlbertaCares.
  • To reinforce this message, government has released a video to encourage people to help prevent the spread.

WCB premium payment deferral

Small, medium and large private sector employers can defer WCB premiums until early 2021.

Employers who have already paid their WCB premium payment for 2020-21 are eligible for a rebate or credit.

For small and medium businesses, the government will cover 50 per cent of the premium when it is due.

Large employers will also receive a break by having their 2020 WCB premium payments deferred until early 2021, at which time their premiums will be due.

Service changes

Community and Social Services has suspended in-person service delivery in its program offices and Alberta Supports Centres. Albertans should contact 1-877-644-9992 for more information.

Support for homeless

To date, there have been no cases of COVID-19 reported at homeless shelters. Government is providing $25 million to support homeless-serving agencies respond to COVID-19. A number of supports are being offered throughout the province.

City of Edmonton

  • The Edmonton EXPO Centre is being activated as an isolation and care centre.
  • Hope Mission and The Mustard Seed will activate additional capacity to meet social distancing guidelines.

City of Calgary

  • Isolation and care will operate out of hotel rooms.
  • Alpha House, the Calgary Drop-In Centre, The Mustard Seed and Inn from the Cold will activate additional spaces to meet social distancing guidelines.

City of Red Deer

  • Safe Harbour Society has relocated to accommodate an additional 100 spaces.

Additional capacity and isolation centres for Lethbridge, Red Deer and Grande Prairie are being confirmed.

Fort McMurray and Medicine Hat have shelter capacity to implement social distancing recommendations. The Government of Alberta will continue to monitor the situation in those communities.

Access to Justice

The Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench has suspended booking any new non-emergency or non-urgent matters until May 1.

Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench information: https://www.albertacourts.ca/qb/resources/announcements/covid-19-extension-of-suspension-of-sittings

Seniors facilities limiting visitation

Seniors facilities are receiving social isolation and distancing information, and stronger restrictions are being put in place for visitors to long-term and seniors care facilities. Essential visitors will be restricted to a single individual who can be family, a friend, or a paid companion who provides care and companionship necessary for the well-being of the resident (physical and mental health) and/or a single designated visitor for a person who is dying, as long as only one visitor enters the facility at a time. Every visitor will undergo a health screening.

Offers of help

The Alberta Emergency Management Agency Unsolicited Offers Program has been set up in response to growing offers of generosity from individuals and organizations to help with the challenges many Albertans are facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Those wanting to help can go to alberta.ca/COVID19offersprogram for more information.

General information for citizens

The Alberta Connects Contact Centre is available seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

Albertans can call toll-free from anywhere in the province by dialling 310-4455 for general information about the Government of Alberta and its response to COVID-19, or for help contacting individual program areas.

This line cannot provide medical advice. Anyone who has health concerns or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should complete an online COVID-19 self-assessment.

Information for travellers

An official global travel advisory is in effect. Albertans should follow all travel recommendations.

  • Avoid all non-essential travel outside Canada and all cruise ship travel.
  • Canadians abroad should return home immediately.
  • Returning travellers should:
    • follow self-isolation guidelines and monitor for symptoms for 14 days
    • check recent domestic and international flights for confirmed cases (information is updated as cases are confirmed)

More information can be found under travel advice at alberta.ca/COVID19.

The Alberta government and Travel Alberta have launched a campaign to inform Canadians travelling in the United States and Mexico about the importance of returning home.

COVID-19 related information has been provided for departing and returning passengers at the international airports in both Edmonton and Calgary. This information has also been shared with all airports in Alberta and several airlines.

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, and staying home and away from others if you are sick.
  • 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.

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