Alberta to provide update on COVID-19 response 1 day after public health emergency declared

Alberta’s chief medical officer of heath, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, is scheduled to hold a news conference at 4:30 p.m. MT in Edmonton on Wednesday to offer an update on the province’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The news conference comes the day after Premier Jason Kenney declared a public health emergency and announced new measures that impose far stricter rules around public gatherings and what businesses and services can continue operating in an attempt to quell the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Hinshaw has been addressing reporters daily and reiterating that public co-operation is key to slowing the spread of COVID-19.

She has been asking Albertans to wash their hands thoroughly and often, exercise social distancing, refrain from venturing out of the house unless absolutely necessary and to monitor for symptoms of COVID-19. If symptoms are evident, Albertans are told not to go to hospitals or medical centres but rather to call Health Link and consult with a medical professional that way to determine if a COVID-19 test is required.

On Tuesday, Hinshaw announced she had tested negative for COVID-19. She had earlier experienced cold symptoms and was asked by senior provincial leaders to take the test so she would not have to self-isolate herself unnecessarily.

At a news conference on Tuesday afternoon, Hinshaw revealed Alberta now has 97 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with the majority of cases emerging in the Calgary zone. She said that of the 97 cases, five involve hospitalizations and two people are in intensive care. She said all other cases involve people self-isolating and where full recoveries are expected.

Watch below: Some Global News videos about Alberta’s response to COVID-19.

While early on in the crisis Hinshaw noted most of Alberta’s COVID-19 cases had been travel-related, she spoke Tuesday about the spectre of more community-acquired cases being confirmed in the province.

“One of the critical things — I’d talked before about some of the community-acquired cases we’d seen, and we have seen a few more cases that we’re still investigating but that are concerning,” she told reporters when asked why she recommended that the government declare a public health emergency on Tuesday. “I anticipate having more information tomorrow (Wednesday) to share about those.

“But it does seem to me that we are seeing a few more instances where community transmission is possible. In addition, we’re seeing examples such as the dental conference that I referenced before, and we now have six cases in Alberta alone from that one dental conference.

On Tuesday, Hinshaw emphasized that Albertans need to take the coronavirus seriously so that the province can do its best to do something that has come to be known as “flattening the curve.”

“The more we can slow the spread of the virus down, the less likely it is that there will be a surge of cases that overwhelm our health system’s capacity to care for those that need hospitalization or intensive care.”

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials say the risk is low for Canadians but warn this could change quickly. They caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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