Alberta’s chief medical officer of health says the increase of COVID-19 cases over the weekend, particularly in the Edmonton zone, is concerning and if the numbers continue to rise, additional health measures may be put in place.
“What we need to do is look at the data particularly, again, with this increase over the weekend, with this sudden surge in cases.”
In the Edmonton zone, there were 982 active cases reported Monday afternoon.
Hinshaw urged people to remember these numbers are reflective of “transmission events” that happened one to two weeks ago and this trend in Edmonton will continue.
“We’re looking at those transmission patterns to help us understand what would be most effective and if there are other changes that we need to make to our framework to prevent Edmonton from continuing to have increasing numbers of new cases.”
One trend Hinshaw called “alarming” is that 11 per cent of active cases are still attending work or going to social gatherings while symptomatic and awaiting test results.
“This is a significant risk and is one of the factors causing our case numbers to rise,” she said.
“I want to be clear: if you are sick, you need to stay home.
“If you are sick, you should not go to social gatherings of any kind. This includes the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend.”
On Friday, the province identified 97 new cases, 263 cases were confirmed on Saturday and 218 positive cases were found on Sunday.
Across the province, 1,783 active cases were reported Monday afternoon. There are currently 62 people in hospital, with 14 of those people in the ICU.
On top of the new cases, Alberta Health confirmed an additional eight deaths since Friday’s update.
Six of those deaths were in the Edmonton zone. Two of those – a man in his 90s and a woman in her 70s – were linked to the outbreak at Extendicare Eaux Claire. The death of a woman in her 90s and a woman in her 60s were linked to the outbreak at Millwoods Shepherds Care Centre. Two more deaths, a man in his 80s and a woman in her 70s, were not linked to any continue care centres.
Two deaths were also linked to the outbreak at the Foothills Medical Centre outbreak. A man in his 60s from the south zone and a man in his 80s from the Calgary zone also died.
Alberta Health Services has reported that 43 schools that had alerts for outbreaks in place have had no transmission and all affected students and staff are back in class.
As of Monday, there were active alerts for outbreak in 149 schools, or about six per cent of all Alberta schools. There are 319 active cases linked to those schools.
There are outbreaks listed in 65 schools across the province, 10 of which are on the watch list.
To date, Hinshaw said in-school transmission has likely contributed to one or more cases in only 18 schools. Of those 18 cases, 15 resulted in only one other case.
Serology testing update
During her news conference, Hinshaw also provided an update on the province’s serology testing program.
Serology testing is different from COVID-19 testing in that it tests the blood and cannot tell whether a person is sick or contagious at that time. Instead, it tests for antibodies from the virus in the blood.
“This can help us understand how many people were previously infected with COVID-19,” Hinshaw said.
Alberta has tested more than 35,000 samples, she said. In the July blood samples, the positivity rate of COVID-19 antibodies was .55 per cent. In samples collected in August, it was .74.
“What this tells us, is that our swab testing program is almost certainly not missing large volumes of cases,” Hinshaw said. “It tells us that we are achieving what we set out to achieve and the protective measures that Albertans have been using have prevented widespread transmission.
“We are protecting each other; we must continue to do so.”
Hinshaw said the numbers found by the Alberta laboratory are similar to those released by a recent study into COVID-19 antibodies by Canadian Blood Services. In samples collected from May to mid-June, the national organization reported an unadjusted positivity rate of .43 per cent.
Hinshaw said there still isn’t enough evidence to determine whether antibodies result in immunity to the virus, and there are studies that have shown the antibodies can begin to fade as quickly as a few months after infection.
Good Samaritan Southgate outbreak update
Good Samaritan Southgate provided an update on the recently declared outbreak at the Edmonton facility. A second outbreak was declared last week.
GSS said it had completed its asymptomatic testing of all residents and none has tested positive for COVID-19, though there were 10 pending swabs waiting as of Monday afternoon.
Interim president and CEO Michelle Bonnici told Global News GSS was attempting to limit the movement of staff through the building as much as possible. While staff are not permitted to move between floors in one shift, Bonnici said staff members may work on different floors day to day.
All staff must wear appropriate PPE no matter what floor they’re working on and staffers are screened twice daily, Bonnici said.
She added the facility has an “appropriate” amount of staff at this time and it continues to recruit new staff.
2 more deaths linked to Foothills hospital outbreaks
Two more patients have died from COVID-19 linked to the outbreaks at seven Foothills Medical Centre units, Alberta Health Services confirmed Monday. Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Monday that both were patients of the cardiac units, and Alberta Health confirmed them to be a man in his 60s and one in his 80s.
A total of 42 patients have tested positive for the virus, AHS said, with six new cases being announced on Monday.
Two more health-care workers were also confirmed to have the illness, AHS said, for a total of 33.
As of Friday, a total of 300 staff had been forced to isolate as a result of exposure from the outbreaks, a number which AHS is updating twice weekly. AHS said most employees were returning to work, but didn’t specify how many of the 300 had gone back to their jobs on Monday.View link »