Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, updates media on the COVID-19 situation in Edmonton on March 20. She confirmed there are 19,165 active cases in the province Monday. File photo by The Canadian Press

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, updates media on the COVID-19 situation in Edmonton on March 20. She confirmed there are 19,165 active cases in the province Monday. File photo by The Canadian Press

Updated: COVID-19 claims nine more Albertans

795 people in hospital with COVID, including 151 in intensive care

Nine more people died from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, bringing the provincial death toll to 860, Alberta Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported Monday.

Another 1,240 cases of the virus have been identified from 18,300 tests, a positivity rate of 6.8 per cent. There are 795 people being treated in hospital for the virus, including 151 in ICU. There are 19,165 active cases in the province.

Hinshaw said the virus mutation that has led a number of countries, including Canada, to cancel flights from the United Kingdom (UK) has not yet been found in Canada. Canada’s 72-hour flight ban started at midnight Sunday.

The mutation has raised concerns because it appears to be more easily transmittable than the COVID-19 variant that has been making the rounds for the past 10 months.

Hinshaw said the new mutation does not appear to cause more severe symptoms.

“It does not impact on how the body responds to the virus, the lab testing performance or the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines,” said Hinshaw.

It is strongly recommended that travellers arriving in the UK get tested and self-isolate for 14 days, even if they have taken advantage of the protocol at Calgary International Airport, that allows for shorter quarantines for those testing negative. All UK travellers in Alberta will be contacted by AHS to set up a testing appointment.

Alberta’s current public health measures are effective against it, but we are acting out of an abundance of caution,” said Hinshaw.

“This new strain is another reminder that we cannot let our guard down with COVID-19.”

While the weekend showed some improvement, Hinshaw cautioned that case numbers are still “extremely high” and the health system is under stress.

Red Deer currently has 415 active COVID-19 cases, while Red Deer County has 85, Clearwater County has 50, Lacombe County has 43, Lacombe has 26, Mountain View County has 36, Olds has 29, Sylvan Lake has 25 and County of Stettler has 25. Collectively, Ponoka County and Wetaskiwin County have 398.

No new coronavirus deaths have been reported in Red Deer, which saw its second death announced on Sunday. There have been 34 deaths in central zone.

Hinshaw also clarified some of the health restrictions around outdoor activities. Hockey and shinny outdoors — even four-on-four — are not allowed.

“Any outdoor activity where individuals come within two metres of each other is not allowed. Skating or other outdoor activities can continue but all members of different households must stay at least two metres apart the whole time.”



pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com

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