Alberta surpasses 1,000 cases of COVID-19; 5 more deaths confirmed
EDMONTON -- Alberta now has more than 1,000 cases of COVID-19 after the province confirmed 107 new cases, along with five more deaths, on Friday.
The total number of cases reached 1,075 nearly one month after Alberta confirmed its first presumptive case of the novel coronavirus on March 5. Out of those cases, 196 patients have recovered.
Eighteen Albertans have died as a result of the virus, including four more residents of Calgary's McKenzie Towne Long Term Care home, bringing the facility's death toll to eight.
A woman in her 20s in the Edmonton Zone has also died due to COVID-19. It's unclear whether she had an underlying health issue, Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Friday.
"This is tragic reminder that it is not only the elderly or those with underlying health conditions who are at risk," Alberta's chief medical officer of health said.
Alberta Health Services had conducted 60,508 tests as of Friday afternoon. New data shows local transmission, now at 137 cases, has been "relatively constant over the last 10 days."
In late March, the province shifted its testing approach to focus less on returning travellersand more on the at-risk population and health care workers.
"Every one of these cases is concerning, and we follow up with every case to ensure that we're limiting spread. However, it does not seem at this moment that we're seeing a rapid rise in local transmission."
Alberta's top doctor also announced AHS is limiting visitors to hospitals starting Friday, and encouraged virtual visits instead.
"With few exceptions, patients in hospital will no longer be able to have any visitors in person."
While there are outbreaks of COVID-19 at several continuing care homes across Alberta, Hinshaw said there are no confirmed cases at jails or homeless shelters.
Kenney, who said this was the toughest week of the pandemic, said the province would reveal new coronavirus data and potential scenarios next week.
"I can assure Albertans today, however, that the modeling indicates that we have the health care equipment, personnel and supplies needed to cope with anticipated hospitalizations, including in intensive care units and including the use of ventilators."
As of 4:55 p.m., there were 12,548 cases of COVID-19 and 187 deaths in Canada.
HOW THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC UNFOLDED THROUGHOUT THE WEEK
On Monday, Alberta shifted its testing focus and increased it to full capacity after a supply shortage.
The result was a spike in cases on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The chief medical officer of health expressed concerns as cases neared 1,000, but explained her biggest worry is the steady two per cent positive results out of the tests conducted daily.
Hinshaw's updates this week have also centred on the several outbreaks at continuing care homes across Alberta.
"At this moment, my greatest concern is about the health and safety of those in continuing care and other congregate settings," Hinshaw said Wednesday.
A day later, she implemented new measures to protect seniors and staff at continuing care homes.
Staff are now required to immediately tell health officials when a coronavirus case is suspected, and workers employed at more than one facility must notify their supervisor if they have worked at another home with a suspected of confirmed case.