What you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Friday, Oct. 9

The latest:

  • Alberta reported 364 new cases of COVID-19, the highest new-case count since the start of the pandemic, and two new deaths Thursday.
  • Outbreaks of COVID-19 have been declared in two units at the Misericordia Community Hospital in west Edmonton, Alberta Health Services said Thursday.
  • Eight patients and two health-care workers have tested positive, AHS said in a news release. Another 29 health-care workers are in isolation.
  • Alberta’s chief medical officer of health unveiled additional voluntary measures designed to slow the surge of COVID-19 cases in Edmonton.
  • The Edmonton zone reported 1,250 cases on Thursday, up from 1,085 on Wednesday.
  • In the biggest active outbreak in Alberta, at Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, 10 people have died and 83 have tested positive for COVID-19. A total of 311 health-care workers have had to isolate at some point during the outbreak, as of Tuesday.
  • Another 364 COVID-19 cases were reported on Thursday in Alberta, up from 143 on Wednesday. Thursday’s case count represented the highest new case count ever.
  • That brings the province to a total of 2,097 active cases, up 187 from the previous day. At the peak in late April, there were nearly 3,000 active cases in the province.
  • As of Thursday, there were 72 schools with outbreaks (of the more than 2,400 schools across the province) including 14 on the “watch” list, meaning they have five or more cases.
  • The City of Calgary on Tuesday joined the province in saying it isn’t cancelling Halloween but issued a number of tips to help people mark the holiday safely.
  • Doctors and governments say the COVID-19 pandemic makes it more important than ever to get the flu shot. The influenza vaccine won’t be available to the general public in Alberta until Oct. 19, but pharmacies say appointments to get the shot in the first two weeks are filling up fast.

What you need to know today in Alberta:

Alberta has never recorded more cases of COVID-19 among school-aged kids and teens than it did over the past week. Data from Alberta Health shows the number of new daily cases has continued to rise among five- to nine-year-olds and has shot up, especially, among 10- to 19-year-olds.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’ s chief medical officer of health, introduced new voluntary measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Edmonton as the province surged past the all-time high of new cases, with 364 new cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths reported Thursday.

Surging case numbers in the Edmonton zone are a big concern for Alberta public health officials. Of the 2,097 active cases reported in Alberta on Thursday, 1,250 were in the Edmonton area.

The capital region is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases and Dr. Lynora Saxinger — an associate professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Alberta — says Edmontonians should be concerned.

Some Calgary doctors are calling on health officials to be more transparent about recent COVID-19 outbreaks at hospitals — and publicly release investigations into those outbreaks.

Dr. Joe Vipond, an ER physician in Calgary and a co-founder of the Masks4Canada advocacy group, said he wants to know what Alberta Health Services learned from the initial outbreak at Misericordia Community Hospital in Edmonton.

Grades 6 and 9 students in the Calgary Catholic School District will not be required to take part in provincial achievement tests this year after the province allowed school authorities the discretion to cancel them because of the pandemic.

And in the capital, Edmonton Public Schools will ask the province to suspend diploma exams for high school students in the 2020-21 academic year, the board agreed unanimously at a meeting Tuesday. 

Board trustees said requiring students to take the provincially-administered tests would add pressure to an already stressful learning environment in the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Tuesday, the City of Calgary issued some tips for navigating Halloween, which echoed ones released by the province last week, on how to safely trick-or-treat, give out candy or celebrate the holiday in non-traditional ways.

You can find a roundup of tips and ideas for Halloween from the province, the city and creative members of the public here.

A total of 77 people are in hospital, and 13 are in intensive care, as of Thursday. Labs have now performed 1,472,658 tests on 1,095,515 Albertans. 

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

  • Edmonton zone: 1,250 cases, up by 165 from Wednesday.
  • Calgary zone:  604 cases, down by 16.
  • North zone:  97 cases, up by 7.
  • South zone: 92 cases, up by 14.
  • Central zone: 39 cases, up by 9.
  • Unknown: 14 cases, up by 7.

(CBC)

A snapshot of the active cases by neighbourhood in Calgary as of Oct. 8. (CBC)

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 8:15 a.m. ET on Friday, Canada had 175,559 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 147,508 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 9,557.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and a handful of his cabinet minister and public health officials will unveil a number of announcements Friday, including supports for businesses, as cases of COVID-19 surge in parts of the country, according to the Prime Minister’s Office. 

Ontario reported 939 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday — its highest-ever daily number of new cases. It is also the second day in a row the province is seeing record-breaking daily figures, trumping Thursday’s previous record of 797 set Thursday.

Friday’s update prompted Premier Doug Ford’s cabinet to hold an emergency meeting to consider tighter measures to try to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Ottawa is lifting COVID-19 cross-border travel restrictions for a wider range of family members as of Thursday, which means some Canadians will soon be able to reunite with loved ones outside the country after being separated for months.

The changes, announced on Oct. 2, will allow for the entry of certain extended family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents, including couples who have been dating for at least a year and their children, as well as grandchildren, siblings and grandparents.

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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