As province reports 30 more deaths, Albertans urged to respect gathering restrictions over holidays

EDMONTON — As the province nears 800 COVID-19-related deaths, its chief medical officer of health is using the sobering statistic to encourage Albertans to follow public health orders over the holidays.

“This year we can and must celebrate differently. Holiday gatherings with people outside of your household are not only against the restrictions that are in place, they are also the wrong thing to do right now,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said during Thursday’s pandemic update.

“We have seen time and time again examples of people attending a gathering with either mild symptoms – like headaches or a stuffy nose that they didn’t connect with COVID-19 – or when they were in the day or two before their symptoms started, when they were infectious but didn’t know it. The result has been one case spreading to many. That is how cases rise and outbreaks start.”

According to Alberta’s current public health orders, gatherings are restricted to the people within a household. Those who live alone are allowed to have two close contacts.

The rules are not recommendations, Hinshaw reminded the public, but legal restrictions.

That afternoon, she reported 1,571 new cases of COVID-19 in the province amongst 19,800 tests.

The number of people with the disease in a hospital rose to 763, 138 of whom are in ICUs.

Hinshaw also reported a new record of deaths reported to Alberta Health Services – 30 – bringing the tally since March to 790.

“This is heartbreaking figure. While these deaths did not all occur yesterday, this is the highest figure I’ve had the sad task of reporting. If anyone still needs reminding of the seriousness of this virus, of the importance of the restrictions that are currently in place, and the importance of doing everything possible to limit our interactions and break the chains of transmission, this is it.”

This is a developing news story. More to come… Our original story follows: 



Alberta’s chief medical officer of health will give an update on the province’s COVID-19 numbers on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. MST.

Watch Dr. Deena Hinshaw speak live on then.

The province is nearing the holidays with 20,169 active cases and 749 people in hospital with the disease. Of those, 139 are in ICUs.

Hinshaw reported 1,270 new cases on Wednesday. The previous two days, new case counts numbered 1,341 and 1,887, respectively. The top doctor says transmission in Alberta has plateaued, but has added that’s not enough on its own to see restrictions eased.

Hinshaw wants to see the province’s reproductive value, or R value, drop to a 0.8 from the 0.98 it currently is.

An R value above one means transmission increased over the week; an R value below one means transmission decreased.

The R value in the Edmonton medical zone sits at 1.00; Calgary, 0.92; and the rest of the province, 1.01.

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