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Alberta surpasses 2,000 cases of COVID-19, reaches 50 deaths
EDMONTON -- Alberta reported 162 new cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths Thursday, bringing the province-wide totals to 2,158 cases and 50 deaths.
Thursday's number of confirmed cases is the highest daily total so far in the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The two people who died were in continuing care facilities: a man in his 70s in the Calgary Zone and a woman in her 80s in the North Zone, said Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw.
The victim in the North Zone was a resident of the Manoir du Lac home, where there are now 38 cases and five deaths.
"The scale of this pandemic means we often talk in case numbers, but we must never forget that every case is a person; every death is a tragedy for the people who loved them," Hinshaw said.
Alberta's top doctor also said the power outage that brought down the data system Tuesday night was caused by a small electrical fire and has not been resolved yet. Hinshaw hopes to issue those numbers in Friday's update.
"I know many Albertans are interested in the daily COVID-19 updates," Hinshaw said. "Teams are working around the clock to restore all applications as quickly as possible."
It's unclear how many patients have recovered since Tuesday's update, or how many probable cases there are.
Alberta Health Service conducted 2,779 tests since Wednesday's update.
STAFF OUTBREAK AT CALGARY HOSPITAL
Seven staff members at the Foothills Medical Centre's maternity ward have tested positive for COVID-19.
No patients were affected and no more staff cases have been reported in the past week, Hinshaw said.
"As soon as tests came back positive, health officials took immediate action to limit the spread to staff and protect patients.
"I want to assure Albertans there is no increased risk to pregnant patients coming to the Foothills Medical Centre."
Alberta has taken measures to reduce the risk of infections at health care facilities, including prohibiting non-essential visitors.
Hinshaw reminded Albertans the province has not reached the peak of the virus, and she expects outbreaks all across the province, likely including more health care facilities.
"It's important to remember that COVID-19 is not airborne. Only specific individuals are at risk when positive cases are identified. If patients are at risk of being exposed, we will alert Albertans."
CUT DOWN ON SMOKING, DRINKING DURING PANDEMIC
Hinshaw is also recommending Albertans who smoke or vape to quit or cut down during the pandemic.
She explained COVID-19 is a respiratory virus, and those who smoke may be at an increased risk for a severe illness if they contract the coronavirus.
"There is growing evidence to suggest quitting smoking or vaping, even temporarily, can have positive outcomes in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19."
Hinshaw added that quitting smoking can reduce the risk of getting COVID-19 because you're not touching your face or lips.
"I know quitting is not easy," she said. "It takes incredible determination and support. This is a stressful time and quitting can add to that stress that many already feel."
The chief medical officer of health also recommended keeping your drinking to a maximum of two drinks per day for women and three for men.
"It's more important now than ever to look after your physical and mental health."