Edmonton COVID-19 trend shows jump in active cases, more young people testing positive

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WATCH ABOVE: The number of active cases in the Edmonton zone continue to rise and younger people are especially on the radar. As Lisa MacGregor reports, cases in the younger age group are back at peak pandemic levels. – Jun 15, 2020

COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Edmonton and most of the people testing positive for the virus are under the age of 40, according to data from Alberta Health.

Between March 17 to April 2, the peak of the first wave of the pandemic, 85 people aged 20-39 years old tested positive for COVID-19. Seventy-five people aged 40-59 also tested positive, and in the 60-years-old and up age range there were 61 cases.

Then, all cases plummeted dramatically in Edmonton until recently.

Between May 29 and June 14, there’s been a rebound that appears to be led by young people, with the number of 20-39 year old Edmontonians testing positive almost back to peak pandemic levels. Seventy-five people in that age group have tested positive recently.

There have been 57 confirmed cases between the ages of 40-59 during that same recent time frame and the 60-plus age group has dropped to 15 cases. ​

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READ MORE: ICU doctor warns Albertans to be cautious amid COVID-19 relaunch: ‘I see the consequences’

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Royal Alexandra Hospital Intensive Care Physician, Dr. Darren Markland, said on Twitter over the weekend that COVID-19 was back in the ICU.

“Our patient is young and was healthy…they are now very sick and on a ventilator,” his tweet said.

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“I’m starting to relax a little bit, but what stops me from relaxing completely is that I work here and so I see the consequences very quickly,” Dr. Markland said in an interview with Global News. “What’s really going to be concerning is fall. So as I keep saying have a good summer, but keep your skills up because we’re really going to need people to really buckle down.”

Dr. Markland said his tweet was not meant to scare anyone or place blame but rather keep people informed.

“This is a numbers game and nobody likes to talk about that when you’re dealing with lives, but you have to take risks every day and there’s a risk that this could get out of control,” Markland said.

READ MORE: State of public health emergency ends in Alberta as 20 new COVID-19 cases confirmed

Meanwhile, in terms of active cases in the Edmonton zone, in the span of just over two weeks the numbers have tripled.

On May 29, there were 55 active cases in the Edmonton zone. That’s  also the day that testing expanded to anyone.

By June 8, there were 106 active cases and as of June 15 there are 175.

Dr. Lynora Saxinger, who works in the division of infectious diseases at the University of Alberta, said data suggests there’s still an active spread in the Edmonton community.

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“I would have to attribute it to maybe more contacts within that group, so people who have been deprived of social contact for so long maybe overshooting a little bit in their social contacts, potentially,” Dr. Saxinger said.

“Fortunately the people who seem to be getting ill right now aren’t as likely to have a big impact on the health-care system, because when older people get COVID[-19] they’re much more likely to require hospital care, honestly,” she said. “But it tells us that it’s still out there and that it’s smoldering and that it might be growing.

“We have a short window to get this right.”

Edmonton remains under the microscope of Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, as the number of active cases in the Edmonton zone continue to rise. Young people, she said, are especially on her radar.

“What we’re seeing with respect to spread and when we’re doing our case follow up of cases, it does seem to be often in social settings where there is transmission,” Hinshaw said in her in-person update Monday.

“We’re therefore encouraging all Albertans, but particularly people in that younger group, to make sure they’re thinking about the measures they need to put in place, limiting their close contact with others.”