Alberta doctor saw patients, underwent medical procedure before testing positive for COVID-19

Click to play video: 'Hinshaw says number of hospitalizations or deaths is ‘up to us’ as Albertans'
Hinshaw says number of hospitalizations or deaths is ‘up to us’ as Albertans
Alberta’s top doctor says the number of hospitalization and deaths from the novel coronavirus is up to Albertans. – Mar 19, 2020

Alberta Health says a rheumatologist in the Edmonton Zone both saw patients and was a patient himself before testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this month.

The case was announced to the public on March 11, and Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw also said at that time he’d been a patient at the Misericordia Hospital in Edmonton.

READ MORE: Alberta doctors ‘beyond frustrated’ with virtual care app amid coronavirus crisis

However, it wasn’t announced at the time that the man was a doctor who had seen patients and attended a previously-scheduled medical appointment at the Misericordia before testing positive on March 9. Officials didn’t say when he had the procedure, but said he didn’t see patients while at the hospital.

The Misericordia Community Hospital in west Edmonton on Friday, Sept. 28, 2018. Fletcher Kent, Global News

The man had travelled to Washington State in the U.S. and got back to Canada in late February, Alberta Health said in an emailed statement on Friday.

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Hinshaw also released a statement on the case Friday, saying the doctor only saw patients before developing symptoms of the novel coronavirus and didn’t see any more patients once symptoms developed.

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Alberta Health said he only saw patients for one day before becoming symptomatic, but didn’t say where or on which day.

He tested positive on March 9 and then went into self-isolation, Alberta Health said.

Click to play video: 'Alberta announces first death from COVID-19'
Alberta announces first death from COVID-19

Once the doctor tested positive, “health officials took immediate steps to contact anyone who may have been exposed and protect the public,” Hinshaw said.

“Based on the facts available, a team of public health experts determined there was no risk of exposure to the patients,” Hinshaw said in her statement.

“Wanting to be extra careful, we brought an independent expert in infectious diseases to review the case, and they agreed that patients were not at risk.”

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Hinshaw assured Albertans that Alberta Health is “committed to transparency.

“AHS immediately contacted anyone believed to be at risk from the virus. We do not contact people who are not at risk,” she said.

“This is the right approach to protect patient confidentiality and avoid alarming Albertans when they are not in danger.”

READ MORE: Premier Jason Kenney declares COVID-19 public health emergency in Alberta

Hinshaw said the ministry is erring on the side of caution in its efforts to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, and said it’s “following the best evidence available and the approach being adopted across the province.”

She added the province has a “clear process in place” to ensure anyone, including health professionals, returning to Canada from outside the country self-isolates.


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