More restrictions ahead: Premier to join CMOH for COVID-19 update Thursday

EDMONTON — An Alberta government staffer has confirmed to CTV News the province will introduce new restrictions Thursday afternoon aimed at reducing COVID-19 spread in bars, restaurants, gyms and places of worship.

The specifics are unknown, however, the premier will join Alberta’s chief medical officer of health for the provincial COVID-19 update on Thursday.

At the beginning of the week, Alberta’s top doctor said officials were “considering which further steps might be needed.”

Jason Kenney hasn’t taken part in a pandemic briefing since Nov. 6, when the province counted more than 1,400 new cases over two days and the officials outlined more guidelines for communities where case counts were surging.

Since then, however, Alberta has reported between 600 and 900 cases daily, with an all-time record of 919 on Saturday.

According to the latest data, there are nearly 8,100 active cases in the province: 3,434 in the Calgary zone, 3,255 in the Edmonton zone, and 1,400 more outside the major metropolitan areas.

DOCTORS, HEALTH CARE UNIONS URGE ALBERTA TO TAKE SHORT, SHARP ACTION

More than 430 Alberta doctors and three major health unions have urged the provincial government to invoke short, sharp public health restrictions to reverse the soaring rate of COVID-19.

The physicians, in a public letter issued Thursday, suggest time-limited restrictions, including suspending indoor dining, bars, theatres and religious services.

They call on the government to provide further support for businesses that would be affected.

Kenney has resisted shutting down businesses, saying household gatherings are the main cause for the spike, and that getting Alberta through the crisis means balancing health, the economy and the community.

ALBERTA AT ‘CRITICAL JUNCTURE’

Among the worst outbreaks are an Edmonton long-term care facility with more than 140 cases between staff and its elderly residents, and the Foothills Medical Centre – one of three Calgary hospitals experiencing an outbreak – where 90 patients and staff have been infected.

More than 200 Albertans are in hospital with COVID-19.

Yet, the province had not introduced public health measures beyond 15-person gathering limits and a “strong suggestion” Albertans limit their number of cohorts to three and refrain from private get-togethers.

According to officials, about 40 per cent of cases are being spread at home and private events. 

In her last in-person update on Monday, Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Alberta Health was assessing its options.

“If needed, we do not need to wait 14 days before recommending additional measures. This is a critical juncture and we need to get our cases down to below 100 new cases per day in our big cities with a growth rate or our value of less than one.”

Watch the press conference live on CTVNewsEdmonton.ca at 3:30 p.m.

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