New visitation guidelines coming for hospitals as Alberta sees just 7 new COVID-19 cases

Alberta announces lowest daily COVID-19 cases since March
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health announces the province saw its lowest number of new COVID-19 cases since March on Friday and updated guidelines for hospital visitors.

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health announced the province had the lowest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases since March 12 on Friday.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced seven new confirmed cases in her daily update.

“Today’s numbers mark an occasion to be celebrated,” she said.

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But she warned Albertans, as the province gets closer to the opening date for Phase 2, case numbers and outbreaks will continue to fluctuate.

She urged residents to continue to follow basic prevention measures like good hygiene and physical distancing – or wearing a mask when physical distancing may not be possible.

“It is possible for us to collectively keep our numbers stable,” she said.

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“As we prepare to move into Stage 2 of Alberta’s relaunch and more activities in our society resume, we must continue our basic prevention measures to keep our numbers low.”

As the pandemic continues, Hinshaw said the province will be focusing on two key objectives: enhancing testing and monitoring of the virus while also protecting those who are most vulnerable.

Hinshaw urged people to complete the online self-assessment and book a COVID-19 test, or visit one of the drop-in locations in Edmonton and Calgary, even if they are not showing symptoms.

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Updated patient visitation guidelines

Alberta Health Services has released updated guidelines for all patients in both acute outpatient and inpatient settings. Those come into effect on Saturday.

“These revised guidelines expand the allowance of some visitation, while maintain specific criteria to protect patients, residents, volunteers and staff,” Hinshaw said.

According to Mark Joffe, the vice president and medical director of AHS, that will include guidelines around visitors and who can accompany a patient to a hospital setting.

For ambulatory care visits, outpatients will be able to be accompanied by one person. For hospitalized inpatients, two support individuals will be identified and will be allowed to visit.

AHS updates guidelines for hospital visitors during COVID-19 pandemic
AHS updates guidelines for hospital visitors during COVID-19 pandemic

Those two people will be expected to maintain physical distance, they must go through a health assessment to ensure they are not a risk and they may be asked to wear a mask and potentially other PPE, Joffe said.

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The two support individuals will also only be allowed if there is space for both of them at the same time.

COVID-19 Pandemic: Ask the Expert
COVID-19 Pandemic: Ask the Expert

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The province will soon be seeking input from residents, family and caregivers at continuing care facilities in an effort to reduce some of the strict rules in place in those facilities, Hinshaw said.

For now, the existing standards and rules remain in effect.

Daily numbers

As of Friday afternoon, 6,624 Albertans have recovered from COVID-19. There are currently 328 active cases. Of those, 44 people are in hospital and six are in the intensive care unit.

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