Social gatherings result in slight uptick of COVID 19 cases as restrictions ease

Social gatherings result in slight uptick of COVID-19 cases as restrictions ease

Author of the article:

Stephanie Babych

Publishing date:

2 hours ago  •  3 minute read

Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw gives her daily COVID-19 briefing at the Alberta Legislature’s Federal Building in Edmonton, on Thursday, April 2, 2020. Ian Kucerak/Postmedia

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Two private family gatherings in Edmonton resulted in an uptick of new COVID-19 cases, as restrictions lift and people are more comfortable gathering with others, the province’s top doctor said Monday.

Though indoor gatherings are still limited to 15 people and outdoor gatherings to 50 with appropriate physical distancing practices, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said some private gatherings have resulted in at least 10 new cases after a fairly consistent decline of cases in the last couple of weeks.

Thirty-four new cases were reported Monday, while the number of hospitalizations reached 53, including six requiring intensive care.

“I do wonder if, because of our low numbers, we are in some ways the victim of our success. I want to remind people that COVID-19 will be with us for months to come and we need to continue to take action to stop the spread,” said Hinshaw.

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Attendees of the two separate family gatherings that spread COVID-19 were commended by Hinshaw for getting tested as soon as they felt symptoms. Alberta Health Services was then able to trace and limit further spread.

Outbreaks linked to social gatherings aren’t “completely unexpected,” said Hinshaw, because, as restrictions are relaxed, more people are leaving their homes to visit with others.

“I must stress that we have the ability to prevent such cases, by continuing to follow public health measures, when gathering,” she explained during Monday’s press conference.

By maintaining two metres between people, not sharing food, drinks and serving spoons, and choosing to stay outside, people can socialize in a more safe and healthy manner.

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As of Sunday, Alberta Health Services expanded testing for COVID-19 to include anyone in Alberta, whether they have symptoms or not. Expanded testing has always been a key factor in reopening the economy safely.

“Expanded testing access means that you can go online to book your own appointment at a time that is convenient for you. We must not shame those who test positive for COVID-19, but rather support those who need to be isolated if they have the infection or if they’ve been in close contact with someone who has,” said Hinshaw.

Due to a quick reaction to a single case of COVID-19 at the facility, the Mountain View Poultry plant west of Okotoks is being removed from the list of ongoing outbreaks in the province.

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The spread was limited to only five employees after the facility implemented staff-wide testing and other safety measures.

Day camps, places of worship and funeral homes in Calgary and Brooks were given the go-ahead to reopen Monday with restrictions as the two cities caught up to the rest of the province in the first phase of economic relaunch.

Calgary and Brooks entered the first phase at a slower pace than the rest of Alberta because of ongoing outbreaks at workplaces that resulted in high case numbers. As of Monday, a total of 6,501 Albertans have recovered from COVID-19, 400 of which are active cases.

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Monday marked the first day of Senior’s Week in Alberta, which honours the age group that has been hit hardest by the pandemic.

Hinshaw encouraged people to responsibly visit with their loved ones to celebrate their contribution to the province. In order to protect the most vulnerable, the restrictions in place have isolated many care home residents.

“Seniors have played a valuable role in building our communities; their knowledge and experience are invaluable … I want to thank seniors who have gone the extra mile to check in on their friends who may be feeling lonely or need extra support,” said Hinshaw.

Of the 143 people who have died from COVID-19, 138 have been aged 60 or older. No new deaths were reported Monday.

“We have lost friends, neighbours, parents and grandparents to this pandemic. Each loss is felt deeply by loved ones and communities,” said Hinshaw.

Twitter: @BabychStephanie

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