2 additional COVID-19 deaths in Alberta, Hinshaw ‘encouraged’ by fewer daily cases

Click to play video: 'Alberta announces 47 new cases of COVID-19, 2 deaths on Monday'
Alberta announces 47 new cases of COVID-19, 2 deaths on Monday
WATCH ABOVE: Alberta's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, issues her COVID-19 update for May 11, 2020 – May 11, 2020

Alberta recorded 47 new cases of COVID-19 in the province Monday, bringing the total confirmed to 6,253.

Of that, 1,524 people are still considered “active” cases, with 4,659 recoveries, said Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw Monday afternoon.

Two additional people have also died, but the number of deaths in the province remains at 117 as two previous deaths that were thought to be due to COVID-19 have now been found to be unrelated.

“We are forced to grieve differently in this time of pandemic, physically distant to family and friends, and I offer my sympathy,” Hinshaw said Monday.

The two deaths were both men at continuing care centres in the North and Calgary zones.

The province said Monday that one of the fatalities was a man in his 70s from J.B. Wood Continuing Care in High Prairie, and the other was a man in his 80s in long-term care at the High River General Hospital.

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Currently, there are 102 active cases in outbreaks at continuing care centres, with 542 recoveries. Eighty-four residents at the facilities have died.

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Hinshaw said that while there are still community transmissions, she is confident in Albertans moving forward with the provincial reopening plans.

“Much of the province has been successful at flattening the curve,” she said. “Hospital admissions and ICU admissions are down.

There are currently 73 people hospitalized, 12 of whom are in intensive care units.

Click to play video: '2 additional COVID-19 deaths in Alberta, Hinshaw ‘encouraged’ by fewer daily cases'
2 additional COVID-19 deaths in Alberta, Hinshaw ‘encouraged’ by fewer daily cases

Hinshaw said that while restrictions were put into place after the first community transmission was reported in Alberta, she believes people in the province have developed habits that will serve them well when the economy reopens.

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“Much has changed in our society since then,” she said, “and it will remain different for a long time still. Our societal norms around hygiene and physical distancing are different today. We are in the habit of washing our hands thoroughly and often.

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“We also maintain physical distance. We are well aware of what two metres look like, and are accustomed to keeping this distance between one another.”

On Monday, the province announced it was launching an online tool for businesses to help guide them through the reopening process in Alberta.

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Click to play video: 'The importance of physical distancing in public places'
The importance of physical distancing in public places

2nd Cargill worker died over the weekend

Hinshaw also updated the case levels at at meatpacking plants around the province, and confirmed that one worker from the Cargill plant in High River had been one of the weekend deaths.

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“This is the second death in a worker at the Cargill plant, and we have previously confirmed at least one other death in a close contact with a worker,” said Hinshaw.

She added that the worker had become ill with COVID-19 last month.

At Cargill, there are currently 36 active cases and 911 recoveries.

At the JBS Foods plant in Brooks, there are 58 active cases, and 548 recoveries.

At the Harmony Beef plant, there are now 16 active cases and 22 recoveries.

Asymptomatic testing expanded in Calgary

Hinshaw said Monday that testing in Calgary would be further expanded to include some asymptomatic tests.

“While we don’t know how much asymptomatic spread may continue to transmission in a population, we know it is possible,” she said.

“We will be making testing available for one week, starting today (Monday), for asymptomatic Calgary zone residents who work outside the home.”

Click to play video: 'Alberta to test asymptomatic citizens in the Calgary zone who work outside the home for 1 week'
Alberta to test asymptomatic citizens in the Calgary zone who work outside the home for 1 week

Up to 1,000 asymptomatic tests will be available per day in the Calgary zone. Those in the Calgary zone who wish to be tested can sign up by registering through the AHS online assessment tool. 

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Hinshaw also gave updates Monday on several outbreaks in Calgary.

At the outbreak at the Canada Post plant, cases remain at six, said Hinshaw.

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“There were no connections between them, and their exposure seems to have been outside the workplace,” she said.

There are also currently three cases in workers at two unrelated daycares in Calgary, but Hinshaw said evidence in those cases is pointing towards patients having contracted the virus outside the facilities.

“All those who work in or attend the daycares are being offered testing, but at this time, there is no evidence that the transmission happened in these settings,” Hinshaw said.

There has also been another case confirmed at the Calgary Remand Centre, but again, Hinshaw said it was not believed to have been related to the previously confirmed case.

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