AB Government: Chief medical officer of health COVID-19 update – March 26, 2020

Press Release

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health provides an update on COVID-19 and the ongoing work to protect public health.

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Good afternoon, thank you all for coming.

It has now been three weeks since Alberta’s first case of COVID-19 was identified.

To many Albertans, it probably feels like a lot more time has passed.

Today, I want to talk about our efforts to slow this virus, and what the next three weeks may hold.

First, I will update you on today’s numbers.

We have confirmed 67 new cases of COVID-19 in Alberta.

There have now been 486 cases identified in the province.

We suspect that 34 of these cases may be community transmission, an increase of one from yesterday.

Right now, 21 individuals are being treated in hospital, with 10 currently in the ICU.

We have also learned that 14 symptomatic individuals from the McKenzie long-term care facility have now tested positive, an increase of eight from yesterday.

They are self-isolating and receiving care.

As of right now, there are no additional confirmed cases in the other continuing care and group home settings that I talked about yesterday.

Today, I am pleased to share that we can confirm 27 Albertans have recovered from COVID-19, an increase of 24 from previously reported numbers.

As I mentioned previously, we are working on streamlining the process for reporting recovered cases and we expect this number to increase in the coming days.

We continue to confirm new cases in every zone, and in all age groups. We are all being impacted by this virus.

Three weeks ago, I said that COVID-19 would test our health system.

To date, our health system has responded remarkably to that test.

While it is a privilege to be seen by Albertans as the face of this response, there are countless unsung heroes behind the scenes.

For example, this time last month, our labs were completing only a handful of COVID-19 tests everyday. They have increased their capacity to over three thousand tests per day.

Contact tracers in all zones are working tirelessly to make sure that anyone who is in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 is notified and knows the self-isolate.

Alberta Health Services continues to make great strides to ensure our health system is resourced and ready to respond as the situation evolves.

From Health Link to assessment centres, from hospitals to home care, and all healthcare providers in the community, I want to express my heartfelt admiration for all healthcare professionals in this province who are working to respond to this virus.

They are on the frontlines, working countless hours in difficult circumstances, to slow the spread and keep us safe.

Of course, it’s not just health care workers who are heroes in this response.

Across Alberta, first-responders, community leaders, social services workers, and workers in shelters for vulnerable Albertans, to name just a few… as well as custodians and cleaning staff in facilities that care for people in healthcare or other settings… all of these have undertaken tremendous work to support this response and protect Albertans.

From me and from every Albertan I want to say thank you for all that you are doing to help keep us all safe and healthy.

I also want to recognize the tremendous work that Indigenous leaders, communities and health care workers are doing to respond to this virus.

For example, I am told by my colleagues working with the Indigenous nation in Siksika, that in a matter of days, Siksika First Nation established call lines for information and mental health supports, including a Blackfoot translation line for their elders.

Yesterday, Siksika Health Services launched a new COVID-19 Response Unit. It will operate 24/7 to assess anyone self-isolating in their homes, and offer testing when appropriate.

They have also worked with physicians to quickly establish a satellite clinic in the community to deliver COVID-19 care when needed.

This is just one example, but I know there are many more across Alberta. We will continue to recognize the work of other Indigenous communities in the coming weeks.

This virus has challenged us all, and so many have risen to that challenge with hope and resilience.

Our system has responded with strength and ingenuity, but I want Albertans to understand there will be challenges coming in the next weeks.

We have all seen what has occurred in countries like Italy and Spain.

We are doing everything possible to prevent that from happening in Alberta by limiting the number of people who will need hospital care by preventing the spread of this virus.

To further support and protect those at greatest risk of exposure to COVID-19, AHS has developed an online assessment tool specifically for Healthcare workers, which will launch tomorrow morning.

Any healthcare worker in Alberta who is experiencing symptoms of fever, sore throat, cough, runny nose, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, is asked to visit www.ahs.ca\covid to complete the new HCW online assessment.

This unique tool for healthcare workers is in addition to the public online assessment tool that remains available for all Albertans.

Many other decisions may also need to be made in the coming days as our health system works to free up space, increase capacity and use every doctor, nurse and staff member as effectively as possible.

The health system is preparing for every possible scenario in the days ahead.

I continue to remind all Albertans that our decisions will impact our health and the health of everyone around them.

We don’t need a rule or order to make practical adjustments in your daily life to limit the risk for ourselves and our loved ones.

I want to reiterate my call to please stay home if you are sick. Always wash your hands regularly, for at least 20 seconds throughout the day, with soap and warm water. Practice physical distancing in every possible facet of your lives.

Three weeks ago, our new normal became more real as we confirmed our first case. I know it has impacted every one of us.

It will continue to do so, but we will rise to meet these new challenges in the days to come.

As I’ve said before, we need to face this together and respond to this extraordinary crisis with extraordinary kindness.

Continue to look out for yourselves and each other and take care of yourselves

Your health is, and will always be, our top priority.

Thank you. I will now take questions.

Related information

COVID-19 info for Albertans


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