What you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Thursday, Sept. 24

CBC


The latest: A COVID-19 outbreak that has hit three units within Foothills hospital in Calgary has claimed three lives as of Thursday, with 17 other patients and 12 staff testing positive. A total of 119 staff are in isolation. An outbreak has also been declared in one unit at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton. According to Alberta Health Services, the outbreak involves three health-care workers. At-risk patients in the unit have been tested and no positive COVID-19 cases have been identified among patients. AHS did not identify which health unit was affected. One more person in Alberta has died from COVID-19, and 158 new cases were reported Thursday, bringing the province’s total active cases to 1,462, down by 58 from the previous day’s total of 1,520. The most recent death was a man in his 80s from the Calgary zone, connected to the Foothills outbreak. There have been 261 deaths from the disease in Alberta since the pandemic began in early March. As of Thursday, there were 32 schools with outbreaks, out of more than 2,400 in the province: 11 schools in the Calgary zone, 14 in the Edmonton zone, one in Lethbridge, one in St. Albert, one in Okotoks and four in northern Alberta. Austin O’Brien in Edmonton became the fourth school in the province on the AHS watch list, meaning schools with outbreaks of five or more cases, joining Vimy Ridge and Highlands School in Edmonton and St. Wilfrid in Calgary. There are now seven schools in the province where it’s believed in-school transmission occurred. What you need to know today in Alberta:

Here’s the regional breakdown of active cases reported on Thursday:

Edmonton zone: 773, down 48 from the day before. Calgary zone: 495, up 14 from the day before. North zone: 130, down 25 from the day before. South zone: 40, up two from the day before. Central zone: 19, down one from the day before. Unknown: five, unchanged from the day before.

Premier Jason Kenney gave a news conference Thursday with the Alberta government’s response to Wednesday’s  throne speech, saying he sees grounds for more constitutional challenges should the federal Liberal government follow through with its promises.

He says there was nothing in the Trudeau government’s plan for the ailing oil and gas sector, an industry that has suffered thousands of job losses amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the energy industry slump.

He also told reporters federal government plans jeopardize global investments in Alberta’s forestry and fertilizer sectors — moves the premier believes are an infringement on Alberta’s right to develop its own natural resources.

The University of Calgary announced on Thursday that classes will continue to be delivered with a blend of face-to-face and online formats for the winter semester.

Departments will structure face-to-face course components with a 30-student maximum cap as a guideline, with some possible exceptions. The winter term will see a reopening of University of Calgary campuses from 20 per cent to 30 per cent in-person learning, the school said.

A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared on three units at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary. The outbreak has claimed three lives as of Thursday, with 17 other patients and 12 staff testing positive. A total of 119 staff are in isolation, according to Alberta Health Services. 

AHS said all at-risk patients are being offered testing, and contact tracing for anyone who may have been in contact with infected individuals is ongoing. 

There are 1,462 active COVID-19 cases in Alberta. Of the 58 people in hospital, 14 are in intensive care.

(CBC)

As of Thursday, there were 32 schools with outbreaks: 11 schools in the Calgary zone, 14 in the Edmonton zone, one in Lethbridge, one in St. Albert, one in Okotoks and four in northern Alberta.

Four schools in Alberta, Vimy Ridge, Highlands and Austin O’Brien in Edmonton, and St. Wilfrid Elementary in Calgary, are under watch status, which means they have outbreaks of five or more cases.

COVID survivor support websites have popped up across the globe with individuals expressing concerns about the lingering impact of the virus. Many complain of persistent cough, breathing problems, fatigue and chest and joint pain.

A snapshot of the active cases by neighbourhood in Calgary as of Sept. 24. (CBC)

Organizers of Edmonton’s Camp Pekiwewin are calling for more robust COVID-19 support at the Rossdale encampment as health officials confirm the first reported cases in Edmonton’s homeless community. 

With COVID-19 cases spiking in the city and Alberta Health Services confirming an outbreak linked to Edmonton’s largest shelter on Wednesday, Pekiwewin organizers want the city and province to take action to prevent the virus from sweeping through the camp. 

Six people linked to the Hope Mission’s emergency shelter have tested positive for COVID-19, Alberta Health Services said Wednesday. 

AHS spokesperson Sabrina Atwal said they began investigating after one person in the homeless population tested positive. Atwal confirmed that all six cases are clients — the first reported among Edmonton’s homeless community.

Health workers continue to do contact tracing and swab tests on those who may have been exposed.

Find out which neighbourhoods or communities have the most cases, how hard people of different ages have been hit, the ages of people in hospital, how Alberta compares to other provinces and more in: Here are the latest COVID-19 statistics for Alberta — and what they mean

What you need to know today in Canada:

As of 5:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, Canada had 149,094 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 128,707 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 9,289.

The fate of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s minority Liberal government hangs in the balance as Parliament resumes all normal operations today for the first time in six months.

Opposition parties will give their official responses to Wednesday’s speech from the throne, but they’ve already signalled that Trudeau can’t count on support from any of them to survive the eventual confidence vote and avoid plunging the country into an election in the midst of a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ontario wants to avoid imposing lockdown-style measures to combat a second wave of COVID-19 but is prepared to take “targeted action” such as closing certain higher-risk businesses, CBC News has learned. 

CBC News obtained a copy of Ontario’s fall pandemic preparedness plan, still in draft form even as Premier Doug Ford’s government is in the midst of announcing some of its elements.

The 21-page draft, provided by a government source this week, acknowledges the recent upsurge in new COVID-19 cases, and lays out three possible scenarios of what the second wave could look like: small, moderate or large.

CBC News has dug deep into the data collected by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to examine how COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, affects the young, the elderly, men and women in order to better understand what’s most likely to land you in hospital — or worse.

Among the findings:

In the early days, people over 80 years old made up the largest group getting sick as long-term care homes were hit hard, but CBC’s analysis reveals that since mid-August, infections among young people (under 30) now outnumber the elderly.  Close to 10 per cent of people who tested positive for coronavirus ended up in hospital, according to the cases tracked by PHAC, with two per cent landing in ICU — especially in certain age groups. Six per cent of cases have been fatal, with huge differences in terms of ages and, to a lesser extent, gender. Self-assessment and supports:

Alberta Health Services has an online self-assessment tool that you can use to determine if you have symptoms of COVID-19, but testing is open to anyone, even without symptoms. 

The province says Albertans who have returned to Canada from other countries must self-isolate. Unless your situation is critical and requires a call to 911, Albertans are advised to call Health Link at 811 before visiting a physician, hospital or other health-care facility.

If you have symptoms, even mild, you are to self-isolate for at least 10 days from the onset of symptoms, until the symptoms have disappeared. 

You can find Alberta Health Services’ latest coronavirus updates here.

The province also operates a confidential mental health support line at 1-877-303-2642 and addiction help line at 1-866-332-2322, both available 24 hours a day. 

Online resources are available for advice on handling stressful situations and ways to talk with children.

There is a 24-hour family violence information line at 310-1818 to get anonymous help in more than 170 languages, and Alberta’s One Line for Sexual Violence is available at 1-866-403-8000, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.


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