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Coronavirus: Alberta has 1.02% positivity rate; 4% of schools have active cases

Click to play video 'Hinshaw lays out guidance for a safe Thanksgiving amid COVID-19 pandemic' Hinshaw lays out guidance for a safe Thanksgiving amid COVID-19 pandemic
WATCH: Hinshaw lays out guidance for a safe Thanksgiving amid COVID-19 pandemic Alberta's top doctor, Deena Hinshaw, offers her guidance for holding a safe Thanksgiving during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alberta has confirmed 158 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, the province’s chief medical officer of health said Thursday.

Out of the 1,462 active cases, 773 are in the Edmonton zone and 495 are in the Calgary zone. More than 12,700 lab tests were completed in the last 24 hours.

Fifty-eight people are in hospital with the disease; 14 of whom are in intensive care units.

Read more: Alberta sees 143 new COVID-19 cases, 2 additional deaths connected to outbreaks

Alberta Health reported another COVID-19-related death on Thursday. A man in his 80s from the Calgary zone passed away and his death was linked to the outbreak at Foothills Medical Centre.

Click to play video 'Hinshaw announces 29 patients, 3 deaths associated with Foothills hospital COVID-19 outbreak' Hinshaw announces 29 patients, 3 deaths associated with Foothills hospital COVID-19 outbreak
Hinshaw announces 29 patients, 3 deaths associated with Foothills hospital COVID-19 outbreak

READ MORE: Coronavirus: 3rd patient dies, patient screening increased amid Foothills hospital outbreaks

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Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Alberta’s positivity rate is 1.02 per cent right now.

School update

Hinshaw said there are 97 Alberta schools with 163 active cases, which she said represents about four per cent of schools across the province.

Alberta Health Services has confirmed 13 schools that previously had alerts have had no in-school transmission and students and staff are now back in class, she added.

Alberta currently has 32 school outbreaks, seven of which have had likely transmission in the school.

There are four schools under the province’s “watch” category, meaning they have five or more cases.

“It is not a sign that a school is unsafe,” Hinshaw said.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Hinshaw gives green light for indoor children’s play areas to open

According to Alberta Health data, the weekly number of COVID-19 cases in the school age demographic (5-19) has been most impacted by community transmission trends, Hinshaw explained.

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“Our highest weekly number of cases in this age group to date was in April, at the time of our peak overall, when we had 216 cases in this age group in one week out of 2,257 people tested.

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“School-age cases have fluctuated with community transmission, but since school started on Sept. 1, we have actually seen a week-over-week decrease from 205 to 183 to 122 cases per week in school-aged children.

“This is despite a significant increase in testing with over 11,000, 18,000 and 14,000 children tested in these three weeks respectively,” Hinshaw said.

Thanksgiving

Earlier this week marked the first official day of fall and Thanksgiving is around the corner.

“This year, I think we’re all very much more aware than usual about how much we have to be thankful for,” Hinshaw said.

“First, the care and support of our loved ones as we navigate through and adapt to this new normal. Also, the health-care workers and community pharmacies who have tested about one in four of us. The health professionals who provide for us and our loved ones with any kind of health issues. The teachers and school staff who are helping to keep our children from harm by limiting the spread. The generosity of people and organizations who care for the homeless and vulnerable. And the researchers who are tirelessly working to develop an effective and safe vaccine.”

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Read more: Smaller turkeys, quieter gatherings: How coronavirus is changing Canada’s Thanksgiving

While it’s natural for people to want to get together and appreciate these things, Hinshaw stressed the need to keep gatherings small and safe.

Alberta Health has posted Thanksgiving guidelines online.

“It’s best to keep gatherings within your established cohorts of up to 15 people outside your household,” Hinshaw said.

“Smaller is safer. This is not the time for large gatherings.”

When shopping for your Thanksgiving dinners, Hinshaw says make sure to maintain physical distancing, wash or sanitize your hands often and observe local mask requirements.

If food is going to be part of your small gathering, she has some guidelines:

“Please have one person plate everyone’s meals so people are not sharing serving utensils. Or even better, consider having pre-portioned servings, ordering takeout or perhaps having guests bring their own food,” Hinshaw said.

2nd wave

Click to play video 'Alberta’s chief medical officer of health says we aren’t in a second wave' Alberta’s chief medical officer of health says we aren’t in a second wave
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health says we aren’t in a second wave

When asked about the prime minister’s comments about some provinces approaching a second wave of the pandemic, Hinshaw said to her, the concept of a second wave implies that citizens don’t have control or influence over the circulation of the virus.

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Read more: 1st wave or 2nd wave? Where COVID-19 stands in Alberta

“I think that certainly there are some provinces who have themselves determined that they are beginning what they’re calling a second wave, but in Alberta, I don’t think that’s where we’re at right now.

“We have seen increased daily case counts for the last few months, but those have remained relatively stable,” Hinshaw explained.

Click to play video 'Trudeau warns of a second COVID wave in a special televised address' Trudeau warns of a second COVID wave in a special televised address
Trudeau warns of a second COVID wave in a special televised address

“When I think about a second wave, I think about a very large spike of uncontrolled spread.

“That’s not our only possible future.

“Our other possible futures are a stable, relatively slow burn of a constant case count over time, or perhaps small ripples that go up and down. That’s entirely within our power and our control as Albertans as to how that spread happens in our communities.”

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