Alberta reports 126 new COVID-19 cases, no deaths
EDMONTON -- The Alberta government reported 126 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, bringing the province-wide total to 1,996.
There were no deaths as a result of the virus since Tuesday's COVID-19 update.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Wednesday's numbers were preliminary due a data centre outage at the ministry of health late Tuesday. The outage shut down the data feed from the provincial lab, and Alberta was only able to report confirmed cases and tests, but not probable and recovered cases or hospitalizations.
"Teams have been working through the night to restore services," the chief medical officer of health said. "However, we have not been able to restart that data feed."
Alberta Health expects to resolve the issue before the next update and will release the full data then.
OUTBREAK AT NORTHERN ALBERTA OIL SANDS PROJECTS
Dr. Hinshaw reported an outbreak at the Kearl Lake oil sands project located north of Fort McMurray, Alta.
Three people connected to the work camp have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, and another six were tested Tuesday and are awaiting results in self-isolation.
"Alberta Health Services continues to work closely with the company to implement outbreak procedures at the site, and to minimize any risk of transmission," Hinshaw said. "These procedures include appropriate cleaning and infection prevention, as well as continued emphasis on following my guidelines for managers and operators of industrial work camps."
Alberta's top doctor also provided an update on outbreaks at meatpacking plants in southern Alberta. Hinshaw said the outbreak at a Harmony Beef plant has been resolved, and that AHS has worked closely with the company's locations to prevent transmission and ensure they follow protocols, including self-isolating workers who have been exposed to the virus.
Alberta Health Services will open an assessment centre for Harmony Beef's High River location because the meatpacking plant needs more testing, the chief medical officer of health said.
Hinshaw reminded Albertans that COVID-19 is not a foodborne illness.
"There is no risk to the public from food produced at these facilities."
FUNDING FOR MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT
The Alberta government is spending $53 million to help Albertans cope during the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds will be used improve access to phone and online supports, including existing helplines such as the Mental Health Helpline, the Addiction Helpline, the Kids Help Phone and the Community and Social Services Helpline.
"Alberta is there for you," Premier Jason Kenney said. "If you're feeling anxious, depressed, scared or lonely, if you feel you can't cope or take the pressure any longer, if you're turning too often to alcohol or drugs, please know this, that help is available."
The province also created a $25-million grant program to improve mental health and addiction recovery in Indigenous communities, people experiencing social barriers, seniors and families.
These mental health helplines are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and are toll-free. To receive help through message, text "CONNECT" to the Crisis Text Line Alberta at 741741.
Hinshaw supported the government's decision to invest $53 million on mental health initiatives.
"No matter what you might be experiencing, whether it's grief, anger, or anxiety, these are normal feelings," she said. "It is important to take whatever steps necessary to acknowledge and process these feelings and protect your mental health. I encourage you to reach out to your family and loved ones and support each other and to reach out to any of the services mentioned today that you may need.