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Ninth COVID-19 death in Alberta, 64 new cases confirmed

Alberta tracking three outbreaks in Edmonton and Calgary long-term care homes
dr deena hinshaw
Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw. CHRIS SCHWARZ/Government of Alberta

Another resident of McKenzie Towne Long Term Care in Calgary has died after contracting COVID-19, Alberta chief medical officer of health Deena Hinshaw said Tuesday afternoon.

An outbreak of COVID-19 at the Calgary long-term care facility has taken the lives of three residents, and Hinshaw said outbreak protocol “seems to not have been implemented immediately.” As a result, there was a “significant amount of exposure.”

Yesterday, the Alberta government announced five additional deaths of people who had COVID-19. Today's announcement brings the total deaths in Alberta to nine.

Alberta is currently tracking outbreaks in three long-term care facilities, including the Carewest Glenmore Park centre and McKenzie Towne in Calgary, and Shepherd's Care Kensington in Edmonton.

Hinshaw said updates on those outbreaks will be provided tomorrow, to ensure the most accurate information is provided.

“These outbreaks remain worrisome, we know seniors and those with chronic health conditions are at greatest risk of severe illness related to COVID 19,” Hinshaw said. “We must all continue to do our part and follow the public health orders that are in place to save lives.”

On Tuesday, there were 64 new cases of people with COVID-19 in Alberta, bringing the total to 754. Seventy-five of those people are suspected to have contracted the virus through community transmission. One hundred and twenty people in total have recovered in the province.

Alberta Health Service’s testing capacity is back up to full, after Hinshaw said they had challenges with shipment of reagent, a chemical used in tests.

That shipment arrived yesterday, and Hinshaw said there are now “sufficient supplies” to test to full capacity.

Alberta is also shifting how it categorizes test data, considering implementing a category of “probable” cases of people who had close exposure with someone who tested positive and is showing symptoms consistent with COVID-19. That will help deal with outbreaks, Hinshaw said.

By the end of the week, Hinshaw said the government will have a clearer picture of testing data, since shifting testing focus from returning travellers to community transmission, giving the government increased ability to assess areas of higher risk and focus attention there.

Hinshaw emphasized that “now more than ever kindness matters,” and in coming days Alberta will be putting together guidance on how community organizations and non-profits can continue their work while staying safe.

“Every day I’m overwhelmed by the compassion and generosity shown by Albertans,” Hinshaw said. She also encouraged Albertans to donate blood, as there have been decreases in donations.

Hinshaw said in light of upcoming religious observances, including Ramadan, Easter and Passover, she and Premier Jason Kenney participated in a townhall with religious leaders across Alberta about how to provide religious services while maintaining physical distancing.

“Albertans should be planning to celebrate virtually, not having large gatherings, and even avoiding smaller gatherings outside of their immediate household,” she said. “The aggressive public health measures we’ve put in place are critical to protecting the health of Albertans.”