‘This is not something to take lightly:’ Hinshaw pleads for better choices as Alberta’s COVID-19 cases climbs by 114

‘This needs to be a wakeup call’: Hinshaw issues warning to Albertans amid rising number of COVID-19 cases
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, spent much of her update on Thursday warning residents of the risk of COVID-19 amid rising case numbers.

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health is once again pleading with Albertans to follow the public health guidelines as coronavirus cases surged in the province for another day.

“This needs to be a wake-up call,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said. “I am very concerned by these numbers.”

On Thursday, Alberta confirmed another 114 cases of COVID-19, bringing the total of cases in the province to 9,975.

Read more: COVID-19: Edmonton to make masks mandatory in city-operated facilities, on public transit

The province also announced two additional deaths. According to Alberta Health, they include a woman in her 70s who was linked to the outbreak at the Good Samaritan Southgate Care Centre in Edmonton and a man in his 70s from the South zone.

As of Thursday, there were 106 people in hospital with 21 of those in intensive care.

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That marked the highest number of admissions on a single day since 113 people were admitted to hospital on April 30.

“My sympathies go out to those who are in hospital or ICU and to the families who are watching their loved ones battle this illness,” Hinshaw said.

Alberta looking at evidence from around the world regarding masks and schools
Alberta looking at evidence from around the world regarding masks and schools

Twenty-four of the people currently in the hospital are under the age of 60, Hinshaw said.

“This is also a reminder that severe outcomes are not limited to the elderly.”

Cases have spiked sharply in Alberta over the last few weeks. On July 9, there were 584 active cases across Alberta. On Thursday there were 1,293 active cases.

“I believe the recent increase in numbers is, in part, reflective of the fact that fatigue has set in,” Hinshaw said. “After several months of not catching the virus, it is easy to say that you feel fine so why wash your hands? Why stay two metres away in public? Why avoid sharing food at a barbeque?

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“While it is true that younger people who catch COVID-19 have a lower risk of severe outcomes, lower risk does not mean zero risk.”

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For the first time, Hinshaw broke down the mortality rate and rate of hospitalization of COVID-19 in Alberta.

Read more: Visitor policies at Alberta continuing-care facilities start to ease Thursday

In those between the ages of 30 and 39, one out of every 50 cases has had to be admitted to hospital.

One out of 20 people between the ages of 40 and 69 has required hospitalization.

One out of every 10 cases of those between the ages of 70 and 79 has died. For those over the age of 80, one out of every four cases has died.

“Even rural areas such as central Alberta which has not seen high case numbers so far, now has 33 cases in hospital, seven of whom are in ICU,” Hinshaw said.

Hinshaw says Alberta could inadvertently distract from other measures with mandatory masks
Hinshaw says Alberta could inadvertently distract from other measures with mandatory masks

For those who are admitted to the ICU, Hinshaw said there is emerging evidence that suggests there are negative long-term effects to peoples’ health.

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“There can be long-term damage such as higher risk of diabetes and lung damage that doesn’t go away when the infection ends,” she said.

“Regardless of age we don’t yet know what impact COVID-19 will have on your long-term health. This is not something to take lightly.”

Hinshaw also said the public health guidelines need to be followed because evidence is suggesting antibodies in those who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus drops quickly.

That could mean even natural spread of the virus may not lead to long-lasting herd immunity.

“It would however, place a crushing load on our acute care system. It would also mean less system capacity for dealing with all the other health concerns that Albertans have,” Hinshaw said.

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“[The guidelines are] not an optional suggestion that can be disregarded when inconvenient,” she said.

Read more: Alberta, Ottawa agree to one-year child-care funding extension amid COVID-19 pandemic

Once again Hinshaw reminded Albertans that the surge in cases reflects residents’ actions from a week or two ago. She said Thursday that if every Albertan started following the guidelines perfectly on Friday, an increase of numbers would continue for another one to two weeks.

“If we want to bring this under control by early August, now is the time to act.”

Since Wednesday’s update, the province conducted an additional 8,222 tests. The majority of the active cases remain in the Calgary zone at 666.

The Edmonton zone had 232. There are 161 active cases in the Central zone, 134 in the South zone and 92 in the North zone.

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Eight cases are not associated with a specific zone.

Alberta’s top doctor says increase in COVID-19 cases a ‘wake up call’
Alberta’s top doctor says increase in COVID-19 cases a ‘wake up call’