EDMONTON -- The first death due to COVID-19 has been confirmed in Alberta, the province's chief medical officer of health said Thursday.

The patient who died, a man in his 60s in the Edmonton zone, contracted coronavirus in the community and was admitted to hospital on March 12. He also had a pre-existing medical condition.

"As heartbreaking as this news is, it was expected," Dr. Deena Hinshaw said. "This is a dangerous virus. While most people who become ill with COVID only experience mild symptoms, it can make others very sick.

"We have put aggressive measures in place to prevent the spread of this deadly infection and protect those who are most vulnerable to make the number of these tragic occurrences as small as possible."

Two patients remain in ICU, Hinshaw said.

Alberta also confirmed 27 new cases, bringing the province's tally up to 146.

The province has confirmed seven cases were spread in the community, and is investigating a possible eighth.

Hinshaw also said at least two coronavirus patients have recovered.

As of 4 p.m., there were 873 COVID-19 cases in Canada, and 12 deaths as a result of the virus.


A Saskatchewan high-ranking doctor thinks he contracted COVID-19 during a bonspiel at the Granite Curling Club last week.

Dr. Allan Woo, the president of the Saskatchewan Medical Association, was at the curling club for a bonspiel with physicians from western Canada from March 11 to 14. He was diagnosed with coronavirus Wednesday.

Hinshaw says there were approximately 72 curlers, and a banquet with 45 people.

It's believed the person who spread the coronavirus at the bonspiel is from Saskatchewan and had recently returned from a trip to Las Vegas, Hinshaw said.

Alberta is working to obtain a list of attendees to make sure they go into self-isolation.

"Even with smaller numbers of people, you can get significant transmission," Hinshaw said.


On Wednesday, Alberta said seven of its COVID-19 patients had attended the Pacific Dental Conference in Vancouver earlier this month and asked all Albertans in attendance to self-isolate until March 22.

Last week, the province received an anonymous call saying a person who went to the dental conference was refusing to isolate. After days of trying to reach them, the province spoke with the person Thursday and they agreed to self-isolate.

Alberta Health is currently working with the Ministry of Justice and Solicitor General on how to legally deal with Albertans refusing to go into self-isolation when necessary.

For now, Hinshaw asks Albertans to tell friends and family how important it is to self-isolate for 14 days after returning from abroad or when feeling ill.

"Take this seriously. Stay home, unless it is essential for you to go out. Now is not the time for social gatherings," Hinshaw said. "Practice social distancing if you have to go out, including if you have to work outside the home.

"The total number of hospitalizations, the total number of deaths, the total number of cases — that depends on us. All Albertans working together to limit the spread of this virus."