Alberta has avoided the second surge of COVID-19 cases being experienced by some other jurisdictions around the world, but case numbers here are creeping up.
The province reported 332 new cases of the disease on Friday, but no additional deaths.
The Edmonton region has 54 per cent of all cases in the province.
“I continue to be concerned about the situation in Edmonton zone,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said Friday.
It’s too early to tell if requests by health officials last week for people in the capital region to limit their contacts and wear masks more often have had any effect.
“It takes about two weeks between actions and outcomes so we would anticipate seeing in the next week or so if the voluntary measures we put in place for Edmonton last week are having an impact,” Hinshaw said a news conference.
“However, this weekend I am asking everyone in the Edmonton zone to continue following these voluntary measures to the best of their ability.”
Calgary outbreaks linked to gatherings
On Friday, the city of Calgary was moved onto the watch list as it currently 686 active cases, which is 50.9 per 100,000 people, Hinshaw said.
“We have recently seen several outbreaks in that city linked to social gatherings, and this is yet another reminder that no region is immune from this virus, and that one case can quickly lead to many if restrictions are not followed,” she said.
“At this time, I am not recommending any additional measures for Calgary. But we are working with local partners to monitor the situation closely.”
The number of active cases in the province is now 2,836 up from 2,738 on Thursday.
Right now 117 people are in hospital with the disease, 11 of them in intensive care.
Rising hospitalization numbers are in part attributable to recent outbreaks in hospitals, Hinshaw said.
Those outbreaks are at Calgary’s Foothills Medical Centre, the University of Alberta Hospital’s Mazankowski Heart Institute, Edmonton’s Misericordia Community Hospital and, most recently, the Leduc Community Hospital, where two patients have tested positive for COVID-19.
“As our community transmission goes up, so too does the risk of introducing the virus into our acute care and continuing care facilities where our most vulnerable community members are,” she said.
“This is another reminder we all have a role to play in stopping the spread.”
Here is the regional breakdown of active cases:
- Edmonton zone: 1,525 cases, up from 1,497 cases Thursday.
- Calgary zone: 820 cases, up from 788 cases Thursday.
- North zone: 145 cases, up from 130 cases.
- South zone: 202 cases, up from 191 cases.
- Central zone: 132 cases, up from 116 cases.
- Unknown: 12 cases, down from 16 cases.
The total number of deaths in the province remains at 288.
As of Friday, 200 schools have active alerts or outbreaks, involving 489 cases, Hinshaw said.
Ninety-one schools currently have outbreaks, including 22 with five or more cases. Sixty-one schools have now seen in school transmission, with two-thirds of those resulting in only one new case.
Hinshaw also encouraged Albertans to get their flu vaccination shots.
“Influenza is not new like COVID-19 but it is very serious,” she said.
“The more that we can avoid influenza-related tests, emergency visits and hospitalizations, the stronger our system will be to support those with COVID-19 and all other health needs. It is vital that we all protect ourselves from influenza.”
Last winter, almost 8,500 Albertans contracted the flu and ultimately 41 died, she said.