EDMONTON -- Alberta's top doctor reported 218 new cases of COVID-19 and three more deaths on Friday.

The province-wide totals sit at 5,573 cases, 2,359 recoveries and 92 deaths. All three deaths were at continuing care facilities with outbreaks, where cases have reached 580.

"My thoughts and sympathies go to everyone grieving the loss of a loved one today," Dr. Deena Hinshaw said. "We should never let these numbers become just another statistic."

Eighty-six of the active cases are currently in hospital, with 22 of them in intensive care units.

In addition to the outbreaks at the meat-packing facilities in High River and Brooks, which have reached 921 and 390 cases, respectively, there are now five cases at the Amazon warehouse in Balzac, just north of Calgary.

"The extent of these outbreaks demonstrates not only how easily this virus can spread, but why it's so essential that we uncover the source of transmission so we can find out who is at highest risk of exposure," Hinshaw said.


After nearly two months of confirming the first case of the coronavirus in the province, Hinshaw revealed new information on how the virus is impacting the health of Albertans.

The most common COVID-19 symptom amongst Alberta patients is a cough, reported by 62 per cent of cases. Sore throat is second and fever is third at 33 and 28 per cent, respectively. So far 7.5 per cent of cases have not displayed symptoms at the time of testing, Hinshaw added.

The average age of cases in Alberta is 41.5. Cases in the 30 to 64 age group are more likely to be hospitalized or die if they have an existing health condition, including cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, respiratory disease and immune deficiency, as well as obesity or a history of smoking.

However, old age remains the most significant risk factor, with people 65 or older being five times more likely to be taken to hospital or die as a result of the virus, Hinshaw said. The risk is even higher for cases over 80.

After older age, the most common factors in severe cases are obesity and immune deficiency, Hinshaw said.

As a result of this data, the doctor's two key lessons are monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms, and if they occur, isolating until they disappear, then getting tested.

"I know I keep repeating this message but I cannot overstate how critical this step is to protecting the health of those around you, so I encourage all of you to be mindful of what your body is telling you and stay home if you have a cough, fever, runny nose, sore throat or difficulty breathing," Hinshaw said.

"Sadly age is a predominant factor in severe cases and there is little we can do to change that except to protect those who are older."

Hinshaw says there are support and management options for those who smoke, or have obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. She recommends eating healthier, exercising regularly, and quitting and reducing smoking.

"It is also easier to get outside now that the weather is improving. Physical activity is a great way to break up the monotony many of us are dealing with now," Hinshaw said. "Remember to practice physical distancing while you're out enjoying the sunshine."


The Alberta government unveiled a contact tracing mobile app Friday to further limit the spread of COVID-19 as the province relaunches its economy and continues to battle the pandemic at the same time.

Hinshaw and the province insist the app is not mandatory to download and does not track location. Instead, encrypted data is stored in your phone for 21 days and users must consent to share it if they test positive for the coronavirus.

ABTraceTogether uses a Bluetooth technology to help Alberta Health track down people who were in close contact with a COVID-19 case.

"This is a vital step in preventing further spread of the virus," Hinshaw said. "Contact tracing, when complimented by aggressive testing, can help interrupt ongoing transmission and reduce the spread. The faster Alberta Health Services contact tracers can inform exposed people or close contacts, the quicker we will be able to prevent potential outbreaks and identify when Albertans must self-isolate."