What you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Tuesday, Sept. 29

The latest:

  • Another 406 people in Alberta tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend, bringing the total active cases to 1,549, up 52 since the last update on Friday.
  • Four more people died over the weekend, bringing the total deaths to 265. 
  • There are 210 confirmed cases in 113 schools across the province, and 47 schools are classified as outbreaks. Six of those have more than five cases each. 
  • Alberta labs have now performed more than one million tests. 
  • In an update issued Monday, Alberta Health Services said a total of 53 people — 26 patients and 27 staff — have now tested positive for COVID-19 at Foothills Medical Centre, the site of Alberta’s largest active outbreak.
  • Officials confirmed Sunday that a fourth patient had died from the virus.
  • AHS said the hospital has postponed 39 surgeries that were slated for Monday due to staff restrictions and a reduced number of available inpatient beds. Most of those procedures will be rescheduled within one week, AHS said.
  • As of Monday, visits to Foothills hospital are being restricted to end-of-life situations and pre-approved essential visitors.
  • A total of 136 Foothills health-care workers were self-isolating, as of Friday. AHS said that figure will be updated twice weekly.
  • Cases have surged alarmingly in some other provinces. On Monday, Ontario reported an additional 700 cases, the most on a single day in that province since the outbreak began in late January. Quebec similarly reported 750 new cases on Monday and intends to put the province’s two largest cities under the highest COVID-19 alert level, bringing new restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the virus. Meanwhile, Manitoba recorded its second-highest single-day increase on Saturday.

What you need to know today in Alberta:

A total of 53 patients and staff have tested positive for COVID-19 at Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary. It’s the second largest outbreak tied to a health-care institution in the province since the pandemic began.

Alberta Health Services said Monday that there are a total of 26 positive patient cases linked to the outbreaks and 27 positive health-care workers. 

Four patients have died, including a man in his 70s whose death was announced on the weekend, an 82-year-old man who had been in a cardiac unit suffering from congestive heart failure since August and a woman in her 70s in the cardiac unit. 

As of Friday, 136 health-care workers were self-isolating. AHS said that number would be updated twice weekly.

An outbreak has also been declared in one unit at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton. According to Alberta Health Services, the outbreak involves three health-care workers. At-risk patients in the unit have been tested and no positive COVID-19 cases have been identified among patients. AHS did not identify which health unit was affected.

The largest outbreak at a health-care institution so far in the province involved the Misericordia Community Hospital in west Edmonton, which has reopened after closing its doors to new patients in early July in response to a full-facility outbreak that killed 11 and infected 58.

There are 1,549 active COVID-19 cases in Alberta as of Monday. Of the 63 people in hospital, 15 are in intensive care.

Here’s the regional breakdown of active cases reported on Monday:

  • Edmonton zone: 779, down seven from Friday’s update.
  • Calgary zone: 575, up by 57.
  • North zone: 133, up by four.
  • South zone: 38, down by three. 
  • Central zone: 18, up by two.
  • Unknown: six, down by one. 

(CBC)

Despite thousands of complaints of people not following COVID-19 restrictions, RCMP and Edmonton police have only handed out 40 tickets since the spring.

Alberta Health Services said it received 5,100 reports of a “concern about a business or public place that is not following restrictions,” between May 23 and Sept. 22. 

RCMP Cpl. Deanna Fontaine, a media relations officer, said officers issued 20 tickets for violations under the Alberta Public Health Act or the Federal Quarantine Act between mid-May and end of September.

Those fines were related to U.S. travellers contravening border control orders, residents not complying with foreign travel quarantine orders and others not adhering to physical distancing requirements.

A snapshot of the active cases by neighbourhood in Calgary as of Sept. 24. (CBC)

Find out which neighbourhoods or communities have the most cases, how hard people of different ages have been hit, the ages of people in hospital, how Alberta compares to other provinces and more in: Here are the latest COVID-19 statistics for Alberta — and what they mean

What you need to know today in Canada:

As of 5:20 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Canada had 155,301 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 132,607 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 9,318. 

Cases of COVID-19 will likely continue to climb in Canada’s most populous provinces for a while even if people start to hunker down, experts say, because of the nature of the infection.

The effective reproductive number of COVID-19 in Canada continues to hover at 1.4, the Public Health Agency of Canada reported on Friday. That means for every 10 people who test positive for COVID-19, they’ll likely infect 14 others who then pass it on to 20 others and so on.

On Monday, Ontario reported the most new cases on a single day since the outbreak began in late January, an additional 700.  The figure surpasses the previous high of 640, which came on April 24.

A majority of newly confirmed cases are concentrated in four public health units: Toronto, Peel Region, Ottawa and York Region. About 60 per cent of the new cases were found in people under 40 years old, according to the provincial health minister.

As the race for a COVID-19 vaccine intensifies, global health activists are pleading with wealthier countries such as Canada to do more to secure vaccines for nations that might not otherwise be able to afford them.

Canada signed an agreement last week to purchase 20 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine from AstroZeneca. There were already deals in place with Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Novavax, Pfizer and Moderna.

But the rise of so-called vaccine nationalism has some global health experts sounding the alarm. 

“Poorer countries don’t have the same capacity,” Ronald Labonté, former Canada research chair in globalization and health equity at the University of Ottawa, told CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning. “It risks crowding out these other countries from being able to get some access in the short term to the vaccine supply.” 

Self-assessment and supports:

Alberta Health Services has an online self-assessment tool that you can use to determine if you have symptoms of COVID-19, but testing is open to anyone, even without symptoms. 

The province says Albertans who have returned to Canada from other countries must self-isolate. Unless your situation is critical and requires a call to 911, Albertans are advised to call Health Link at 811 before visiting a physician, hospital or other health-care facility.

If you have symptoms, even mild, you are to self-isolate for at least 10 days from the onset of symptoms, until the symptoms have disappeared. 

You can find Alberta Health Services’ latest coronavirus updates here.

The province also operates a confidential mental health support line at 1-877-303-2642 and addiction help line at 1-866-332-2322, both available 24 hours a day. 

Online resources are available for advice on handling stressful situations and ways to talk with children.

There is a 24-hour family violence information line at 310-1818 to get anonymous help in more than 170 languages, and Alberta’s One Line for Sexual Violence is available at 1-866-403-8000, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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