Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced Wednesday that Alberta now has its lowest number of active COVID-19 cases in nearly two months. She also said health officials are investigating whether a child in the province may have an inflammatory condition possibly linked to the disease.
“In the past several weeks, cases of a new condition called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C, have been reported in a number of jurisdictions,” Alberta’s chief medical officer of health said at a news conference in Edmonton. “It is similar to an inflammatory disease known as Kawasaki disease and responds to treatments such as steroids.
“Today I am announcing that one possible case of MIS-C is being investigated in Alberta this week.”
She said while she could not provide details about the child, she is of the understanding that they are in stable condition and being treated in hospital.
“What we’ve seen in other jurisdictions is that it is a relatively small proportion of children infected with COVID who go on to develop this syndrome.”
Hinshaw said while health experts continue to learn about the syndrome that affects children, it seems to develop in some children who have a recent history of COVID-19. She said it appears to be similar to a medical condition known as Kawasaki disease “and responds to treatments such as steroids.”
“MIS-C involves inflammation of multiple organs, including the heart, kidneys, blood vessels and nervous system,” she said. “Fever is a key feature of this syndrome and other symptoms can include rash, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain.
“The early information available suggests that the majority of children who have COVID-19 would not be expected to experience this syndrome,” Hinshaw added. “However, we are making this disease reportable in order to monitor any cases that might occur and to improve our understanding of this illness.”
Hinshaw said if a parent does suspect their child may have the syndrome, they should feel comfortable calling 811 or their family doctor or taking the child to a hospital emergency department “if they feel their child is very ill.”
“This is still very new,” Hinshaw said, but added that at least at this point, it does not appear children with the syndrome are infectious.
“It seems to be more something that happens as a result of their immune system going into overdrive after an infection and causing this inflammatory response in multiple organs,” she said.
“I know this new condition might be scary for parents — I worry for my kids too… it is important to remember that this condition appears to be rare and it is treatable.
“It is, however, a reminder that we continue to learn new things about this virus and that we must continue to be cautious in our relaunch.”
Latest COVID-19 numbers in Alberta
Hinshaw said Wednesday that there are currently 679 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, “the fewest number of active cases in Alberta since March 30.”
Of Alberta’s active COVID-19 cases, 531 are in the Calgary zone, 71 are in the South zone, 52 are in the Edmonton zone, 21 are in the North zone, two are in the Central zone and the zone has yet to be determined for two active cases.
Over the past 24 hours, Hinshaw said 3,168 novel coronavirus tests were administered and 25 new positive tests were confirmed.
Since one day ago, two more people have died in Alberta of COVID-19. A spokesperson for Alberta Health said the latest people to die from the disease were a woman in her 90s and a woman in her 100s from the Extendicare Hillcrest care home in Calgary.
“I would like to extend my sympathies to all those who have lost loved ones,” Hinshaw said.
In total, 141 people have died of COVID-19 in Alberta since the pandemic hit the province, according to Alberta Health.
“During the peak of global deaths in April, the number of weekly deaths being reported was higher than lung cancer, road injuries, diabetes or suicide,” Hinshaw noted.
“Our current COVID-19 death toll… is one and a half times higher than the highest annual influenza death number in the last five years.”
Of the province’s COVID-19 fatalities, Alberta Health said 103 have been in the Calgary zone, 16 in the North zone, 13 in the Edmonton zone, eight in the South zone and one in the Central zone. A total of 106 of those deaths were people in continuing care facilities.
Hinshaw said 43 people in the province are currently in hospital with the disease, four of those are in intensive care units.
However, Hinshaw also said 6,106 COVID-19 recoveries have also now been recorded in Alberta.
Despite the large number of recoveries, Hinshaw warned the novel coronavirus “will be with us for many months to come” and that people need to remain vigilant about preventing its spread.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Alberta Health said 223,771 Albertans have been tested for the novel coronavirus.
ABTraceTogether, Alberta’s voluntary contact-tracing app, had 193,974 registered users as of Wednesday afternoon, according to Alberta Health.
Watch below: Some videos of Dr. Deena Hinshaw speaking at a news conference in Edmonton on Wednesday.