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Alberta records another 332 cases of COVID-19 as Hinshaw urges flu vaccination

Click to play video 'Albertans urged to get their flu shot this year' Albertans urged to get their flu shot this year
Chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw urged all Albertans to get their flu shot this year, saying last year 8,500 contracted influenza and 41 people died. She said the shot won't prevent COVID-19, but will help the health care system from becoming overwhelmed during flu season.

Alberta Health has confirmed another 332 cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, bringing the total number of Albertans who have contracted the disease to 21,775.

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health provided the numbers in an update Friday afternoon.

There are currently 2,836 active cases across the province.

Read more: ACAC to explore options to conduct post-secondary athletics this winter and spring

“We continue to monitor these numbers closely,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said.

The majority of those cases – 54 per cent – are in the Edmonton zone, with 1,525 active cases.

Click to play video 'Alberta records another 332 cases of COVID-19 as Hinshaw urges flu vaccination' Alberta records another 332 cases of COVID-19 as Hinshaw urges flu vaccination
Alberta records another 332 cases of COVID-19 as Hinshaw urges flu vaccination

The Calgary Zone has also seen an increase over Thursday, with 820 active cases.

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There are 132 active cases in the Central zone, 202 in the South zone and 145 in the North zone.

There are 12 active cases not affiliated to any particular zone as of Friday afternoon.

Click to play video '54% of Alberta’s 2,836 COVID-19 cases are in Edmonton Zone' 54% of Alberta’s 2,836 COVID-19 cases are in Edmonton Zone
54% of Alberta’s 2,836 COVID-19 cases are in Edmonton Zone

Hinshaw didn’t report any new deaths, but pointed to a high number of hospitalizations.

As of Friday afternoon, there are 117 Albertans in hospital with 11 of those people in the ICU.

“The recent outbreaks that we have seen in hospitals are one of the reasons for the high hospitalization numbers that we are now seeing,” Hinshaw said.

“As our community transmission goes up, so too does the risk of introducing the virus into our acute care and continuing-care facilities where our most vulnerable community members are.”

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As we head into the flu season, Hinshaw pleaded with Albertans to get their flu vaccine.

Read more: She has coronavirus, her roommate doesn’t. How two Winnipeggers are avoiding each other at home

“The more that we can avoid influenza-related tests, emergency visits and hospitalizations, the stronger our system will be to support those with COVID-19 and all other health needs.”

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Last year, almost 8,500 Albertans contracted the flu and 41 people died, Hinshaw said. One in three Albertans were immunized – more than in 2018 – but Hinshaw said Albertans “must” do better this year.

“The flu shot won’t prevent COVID, but it will help you from getting sick with influenza and spreading it to others,” she said.

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: WHO says Remdesivir not effective in preventing death from COVID-19, trial to assess other antibodies' Coronavirus: WHO says Remdesivir not effective in preventing death from COVID-19, trial to assess other antibodies
Coronavirus: WHO says Remdesivir not effective in preventing death from COVID-19, trial to assess other antibodies

On Monday, the flu shot will be available in participating pharmacies, doctor’s offices and health clinics across the province.

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“We can’t yet prevent COVID-19 with a vaccine, but we can help stop the flu from taxing our health system.”

Increase in cases in Alberta’s big cities

Calgary was added to the province’s watch list on Friday, Hinshaw said.

“We have recently seen several outbreaks in that city linked to social gatherings and this is yet another reminder that no region is immune from this virus and that one case can quickly lead to many if restrictions are not followed,” Hinshaw said.

At this time, she is not considering any additional measures for that city or health zone, Hinshaw said.

“We are working with local partners and monitoring the situation closely.”

Click to play video 'Calgary added to COVID-19 watch list, Edmonton numbers still concerning: Hinshaw' Calgary added to COVID-19 watch list, Edmonton numbers still concerning: Hinshaw
Calgary added to COVID-19 watch list, Edmonton numbers still concerning: Hinshaw

Meanwhile, it has been one week since additional, voluntary measures were put in place for Edmonton.

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It takes about two weeks between action and outcome, so Hinshaw anticipates seeing in the next week or so if those voluntary measures are having an impact.

“I continue to be concerned about the situation in Edmonton zone, which currently has 54 per cent of the active cases in the province,” she said.

Heading into the weekend, Hinshaw urged all of those in the Edmonton zone to continue to follow those voluntary measures.

Read more: Coronavirus: Where Alberta’s COVID-19 outbreaks are

Measures introduced last week ask people to limit all private, social gatherings to no more than 15 people and ensure everyone in a workplace is wearing a mask unless they are in a private workspace where they can distance or there is a barrier put up, and limit close contacts and contacts between groups.

“I know this can be frustrating and inconvenient at times, but we are seeing cases where the virus is being spread at workplaces often by people with very mild symptoms who have not stayed home, or those who have not yet had symptoms start.”

Click to play video '54% of Alberta’s 2,836 COVID-19 cases are in Edmonton Zone' 54% of Alberta’s 2,836 COVID-19 cases are in Edmonton Zone
54% of Alberta’s 2,836 COVID-19 cases are in Edmonton Zone

The third measure asks those in the Edmonton zone to be part of no more than three cohorts in most circumstances – a core household and social cohort, a school cohort if applicable and only one other group or sport cohort.

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Young children in childcare can be part of a childcare cohort because evidence has shown children this age don’t spread the virus easily, Hinshaw said.

“To be clear, this is three cohorts per person, not per family.”

Click to play video 'Infectious disease expert calls COVID-19 ‘watch’ status a serious warning for Calgary' Infectious disease expert calls COVID-19 ‘watch’ status a serious warning for Calgary
Infectious disease expert calls COVID-19 ‘watch’ status a serious warning for Calgary

School update

There are currently 200 schools with active alerts or outbreaks. Of those, 91 schools have an active outbreak and 22 are on watch with five or more cases.

Read more: Coronavirus: What schools in Alberta have COVID-19 outbreaks

According to Hinshaw, there are 489 cases in schools.

“As we see community transmission rise, cases in school-aged children are not unexpected.”

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To date, in-school transmission has been seen in 61 schools and in two-thirds of those cases, that transmission only resulted in one other case, Hinshaw said.

“I want to thank all parents, teachers, students and school staff for your dedication to school safety and preventing wide-spread transmission.”

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