Two more deaths, 162 new cases of COVID-19 in Alberta | CBC News

Two more deaths, 162 new cases of COVID-19 in Alberta | CBC News

Two more people died of COVID-19 on Thursday and the province reported 162 new cases.

At left, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, updates media on the COVID-19 situation. At right, a health-care worker gathers a test sample. Both are file photos. (Left: Jason Franson/The Canadian Press, right: Alberta Health Services)

Two more people died of COVID-19 on Thursday and the province reported 162 new cases.

That brings to total number of deaths to 50 and the total number of cases to 2,158.

“We have not yet seen the peak of COVID-19 in Alberta,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said Thursday at a news conference in Edmonton.

Hinshaw said one way for people to improve their health during the pandemic would be to quit smoking or vaping and limit their alcohol consumption to two drinks a day.

COVID-19 is a respiratory virus, Hinshaw said, and smoking and e-cigarettes expose the lungs to toxic chemicals.

“It is not yet clear whether these exposures increase the risk of catching COVID-19,” she said. “However, they do increase the risk of severe illness for those who get infected.

“There is growing evidence to suggest quitting smoking or vaping, even temporarily, can have positive outcomes in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Smoking increases the risk of poor outcomes from any lung infection, and this virus mainly affects the lungs.

People who smoke or vape also frequently touching their mouth and lips, which can make it easier to transfer the virus from their hands.

“Given all these factors, I strongly recommend that anyone who smokes or vapes takes steps to quit or cut down during this pandemic,” Hinshaw said.

Limit alcohol intake, Hinshaw says

It’s also important for people to limit their alcohol consumption, she said.

“Alcohol consumption can make many things worse, including health issues, risk-taking behaviours, mental health and violence.

“All Albertans should be mindful of how much they are drinking. No more than about two drinks per day are recommended for women, and three drinks per day for men.”

Public health officials are closely watching numerous outbreaks at continuing care centres across the province, and outbreaks at a Cargill meat-packing plant in Brooks and at the Kearl Lake oilsands facility north of Fort McMurray.

Three cases have been linked to the Kearl Lake site. One of the confirmed cases remains on the site, and the other two have left, Hinshaw said. All three seemed to have common exposure.

 “I would like to stress to Albertans that everything that needs to be done to keep people safe in Kearl and other camps, and food processing facilities like Cargill, is being done.”

The most recent deaths were a man in his 70s, a resident at the long-term care centre in High River, and a woman in her 80s who lived at the Manoir Du Lac care home in McLennan in northern Alberta, the fifth resident there to die of COVID-19.

As of Thursday, 34 people have died from COVID-19 in the Calgary zone; eight in the Edmonton zone; seven in the North zone; and one in the Central zone.

More than 85,500 people have been tested for COVID-19.

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