Coronavirus: University of Alberta confirms first positive case

The HUB Mall residence at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alta., Dec. 6, 2018. Dave Carels, Global News

The University of Alberta has confirmed one of its students has tested positive for COVID-19.

On Saturday morning, Alberta Health Services informed U of A about the positive case and said the student took the correct measures after realizing he or she may be experiencing symptoms related to the novel coronavirus.

“They absolutely did the right thing,” said facilities and operations vice-president Andrew Sharman. “The first moment they started to feel unwell they self-isolated, called 811 and followed up with Alberta  Health Services, so that likely has prevented a wider spread of any potential cases.”

It is the first positive case of the virus connected to the U of A.

READ MORE: Alberta launches ‘prevent the spread’ COVID-19 video featuring Gretzky, Kenney, Nenshi and Iveson

Sharman said the student was not living in a university residence. On Friday, U of A sent an email to students urging them to leave their residences by March 24.

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“I think it re-enforces the decision we made — it was a tough decision yesterday (Friday) — but we knew cases would arise and therefore we’re trying to reduce the risk in our residences,” he said.

Click to play video: 'Post-secondary institutions in Alberta urge students to vacate residences over COVID-19 outbreak.'
Post-secondary institutions in Alberta urge students to vacate residences over COVID-19 outbreak.

A post sent by university vice president and vice-chancellor David Turpin on Saturday said AHS informed the university the student was recovering in isolation.

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“To anyone who may be wondering if you have been exposed to this confirmed case of COVID-19, I want to assure you that Alberta Health Services are in direct contact with the individuals who may be impacted,” Turpin’s message read.

“AHS is providing these individuals with the information and guidance that they need at this time.”

Turpin said the university’s public health response team and emergency management team has been working with AHS to “uphold the safety of the campus.”

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READ MORE: COVID-19 cases in Alberta now at 226; 16 suspected to be community transmission

The U of A moved to online classes on Tuesday in response to concerns around the spread of the virus.  Students have been using the school’s eClass website to access their courses and course content from home for the remainder of the winter term.

On Saturday, the province confirmed an additional 31 cases in Alberta bringing the total to 226.

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