UPDATE: On Wednesday afternoon, an AHS spokesperson said there were six positive COVID-19 patients and five positive staff, all connected to a single unit at the Misericordia Community Hospital. Covenant Health is conducting on-site testing of asymptomatic staff who have worked in the affected area, AHS said. So far, more than 250 tests have been done with no new positive results.
Six patients and two staff at the Misericordia Community Hospital in Edmonton have tested positive for COVID-19, Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Tuesday.
“This outbreak is confined to a single unit and so far, six patients and two staff have tested positive,” Alberta’s chief medical officer of health said.
“Outbreak protocols have already been implemented and all staff or patients who may have been exposed are being tested.”
The first case was identified on June 21, AHS said Wednesday.
Contact tracing for Covenant Health staff is being done by Covenant Occupational Health, Safety and Wellness. There are currently 10 occupational health nurses — who are Covenant Health staff — completing the tracing, with help from Covenant support staff, AHS said.
Contact tracing for patients is conducted by Alberta Health Services and Covenant Infection Prevention and Control.
As of Tuesday, there were 45 new COVID-19 cases in Alberta and 532 active cases. The Calgary zone has 230 active cases while the Edmonton zone has 236.
So far, 7,096 people have recovered from the illness. Over the last 24 hours, 6,500 tests were completed. So far, Alberta has done more than 400,000 tests for the novel coronavirus.
As of Tuesday, 37 Albertans were hospitalized with COVID-19, six of whom were in intensive care units.
No new deaths were reported on Tuesday. Alberta’s death toll from the novel coronavirus is 153.
Alberta investing $10M in serology testing
Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced the province will be investing $10 million in targeted serology testing, becoming the first province in Canada to do so.
While a traditional swab test detects if a person currently has COVID-19, the serology test detects if the person has ever been exposed to the novel coronavirus. It detects antibodies in that person’s blood.
“It detects the presence of antibodies in a person’s blood which can show us if they’ve been exposed to COVID-19 in the past. That shows us more about how the virus is spreading and how best to contain it.
“It does not — and I repeat, not — replace swab testing. It doesn’t tell us if you’re currently sick or if you’re contagious and it doesn’t tell us if you’re immune to COVID-19 to a degree, or for how long.”
Alberta is still officially asking people to refrain from non-essential travel outside the province.
“There has been no change to our official recommendation, which is that non-essential travel outside of Alberta should be avoided at this time,” Hinshaw said.
She explained Alberta officials continue to have discussions with neighbouring provinces about this recommendation.
Hinshaw spoke about several restaurants in Edmonton deciding to close temporarily after staff or patrons tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
She said Alberta Health or AHS “did not require closures and to date there are no known outbreaks at these locations.”
Hinshaw explained all businesses are required to have a protocol in place in the event someone there has symptoms or tests positive and the closures were operational decisions made by the owners.
“It’s important to take every case seriously but also to remember one case does not automatically require a business to close for public health reasons. It also does not mean that anyone who visited the same establishment is automatically at risk,” she explained.
Hinshaw said a business choosing to close temporarily is not a sign it’s a risk.
“It’s the opposite. It’s a sign that they care about their patrons and that they’re taking the health of their customers and their employees seriously.”
One-site rule for health-care workers
Hinshaw said the rule limiting health-care workers to one long-term care site to prevent the spread of COVID-19 will likely stay in place for a while.
“At this moment in time, we’re not looking at a timeline for easing that particular restriction,” she said.
“That particular measure is one that has come up as a key one to keep people safe. So at this time, that is a measure we anticipate will stay in place for the foreseeable future.”
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