On Tuesday, provincial chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced Alberta’s second fatality linked to the novel coronavirus.
“This news is extremely sad for all of us,” she said.
Hinshaw said the person who died was a woman in her 80s who was living in McKenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre in Calgary.
One staff member and two other residents of this facility have tested positive for COVID-19. Eleven other residents are showing symptoms, Hinshaw said.
The fatality appears to be a case of community transmission.
“News of this death and other potential infections in a long-term care facility will be distressing for many,” Hinshaw said.
“I want to reiterate that while most people who become ill with COVID-19 will only have mild symptoms, others will become very sick.
“It’s why these aggressive measures are in place,” Hinshaw said, referring to the province’s ban on mass gatherings, closure of rec centres, limitations on restaurant capacity and physical distancing rules.
“Every single Albertan has a role to play,” she said.
Hinshaw said Tuesday that there have now been 57 new cases confirmed in Alberta, bringing the total number of cases to 358.
Of those 358 total cases, 28 are believed to be due to community transmission and don’t have any direct link to travel.
As of Tuesday, 19 patients are in hospital, seven in intensive care, and three are listed as recovered. Alberta Health Services is working on a more streamlined way to process data on recoveries.
Hinshaw also provided an update on the curling bonspiel that many Alberta health professionals attended March 11-14.
She said 12 of the health-care workers who attended that event have since tested positive for COVID-19. Three of those patients are physicians who work in Red Deer. Hinshaw said each worked less than half a day with mild symptoms and now 58 patients and 97 other health-care workers are being investigated as part of contact tracking.
Doctors in Edmonton and Calgary zones were also impacted by the bonspiel, Hinshaw said.
“It it critical to immediately self-isolate at the first sign of mild symptoms,” she stressed.
AHS is encouraging people to take the online assessment tool and follow its recommendations.
“We all need to take these measures seriously,” Hinshaw said.
“If you are sick, stay home,” she stressed. “The health and well-being of your friends, family and neighbours are at stake.”
Nine cases in Alberta appear to be connected to the Pacific Dental Conference, which took place at the Vancouver Convention Centre from March 5-7.
In a statement, Revera, which runs McKenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre, said it learned Monday that a resident had passed away and tested positive for COVID-19.
“We offer our most sincere condolences to the family and friends of the resident. The employees of McKenzie Towne, and the entire Revera family, are devastated by this tragic news,” Revera’s chief medical officer, Dr. Rhonda Collins, said.
The resident developed symptoms on March 22 and the test came back positive on March 23, Revera said. All residents are currently in isolation.
The employee who tested positive received that test result on March 23. That individual started showing symptoms on March 12 and remains at home in self-isolation, Revera said. The employee last worked at the centre on March 9.
“Strict contact droplet precautions are in place at the home as part of our outbreak protocol.
“Residents in the affected areas of the home are isolated in their rooms. Staff are wearing full personal protective equipment (PPE) to serve those areas,” Revera’s statement reads.
The facility has 150 beds, with 144 currently filled. The outbreak occurred in the continuing care centre only. It does not impact residents at the retirement residence.
“On March 14, Revera implemented pandemic protocols at McKenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre, and across our Canadian operations, which include actively screening all visitors and staff for COVID-19. Additionally, we have only allowed essential visitors into our homes and residences since March 17 and have been implementing physical distancing for residents.”
The company said it remains vigilant and thanked its team at McKenzie Towne for its tireless work.
Several changes to Alberta’s testing protocols were announced Monday.
Travellers coming back into the country will still be required to self-isolate for 14 days.
Anyone who develops minor symptoms must begin to self-isolate for 10 days from the start of those symptoms.
Starting this week, staff, physicians and clinical contractors will be screened before starting their shifts. They will be met at the entrance and will have their temperature taken and will be asked to fill out a short questionnaire. If anyone is unwell, they will be sent home to self-isolate.
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