COVID-19 Updates: Protecting Albertans from the Omicron variant.
Check against delivery
Good afternoon, thank you all for coming.
As you can see, and has been reported, I am self-isolating.
I felt well yesterday, but woke up this morning with a sore throat. Although my symptoms are mild, it is important to underline that no one is exempt from staying home when sick, even with mild symptoms.
I would like to thank all those who have reached out and sent me your well wishes. I really appreciate it.
My symptoms do not appear to be consistent with COVID-19. I do not have a cough or a fever.
Despite this, as I have consistently said in these daily updates, if you are not feeling well, stay home. Self-isolate. Do not risk exposing Albertans if you are sick.
Earlier today I was tested for COVID-19 at the request of senior leaders to ensure that I am able to return to work in person as soon as possible, and not to have to wait 14 days. While I wait for those results, I will continue to self-isolate.
As I said yesterday, you don’t need to wait for a lab result to do what’s right…
Stay home if you are sick.
I want to reassure Albertans that I continue to perform all of my duties as Chief Medical Officer of Health while I self-isolate.
I continue to participate on conference calls, receive regular updates and briefings throughout the day.
And, I will continue to update Albertans through these media opportunities.
As I have repeatedly said, this is our new normal.
We must adapt and find creative solutions. While I know it may not be possible for everyone, the ability to work from home is going to become more important for those in occupations where this is an option.
I would also like to take a minute to talk about self-isolation.
Particularly, actions that I have taken to reduce any risk to my family members.
I am fortunate to be able to have a spare bedroom, where I can self-isolate with my own bathroom, used only by me. I am not eating meals with my family, and am staying 2 metres away from others in my household. Even though my symptoms are mild, I believe it is important to follow the advice I have been providing over the last several weeks on another part of our new normal. Even without a lab test, these steps are important to take proactively.
With respect to our current situation in Alberta, over the last 24 hours, we have confirmed 18 new cases of COVID-19.
This means that 74 cases have now been identified in our province.
For the first time, we now have confirmed cases in every health zone in Alberta, with one case each being confirmed today in the North and South Zones.
This pandemic will impact all Albertans, no matter where they reside in the province. All Albertans need to come together and do their part to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Currently, 5 individuals are receiving treatment in hospital and are in stable condition.
All other confirmed cases are self-isolating at home and expected to make a full recovery.
As always, health officials have taken swift action to isolate these individuals and any close contacts who may be at risk.
As mentioned yesterday, we believe that two cases are the result of community transmission.
Community transmission is when a person catches the virus from someone who has no traceable travel connections.
This could mean that Albertans are exposed within their communities.
As announced yesterday, in response to the increased potential of community transmission, we took additional action.
I believe these were necessary actions to help slow the virus and protect public health.
Today is the first day of cancelled classes.
I know this decision is going to impact parents for the days and weeks ahead, as you find child care solutions.
To be clear, we did not close schools.
Teachers and other school staff should continue to come to their schools to plan potential alternatives for students, particularly those in grade 12.
Yesterday, we also announced that all licenced childcare facilities, out-of-school care programs and preschools were to close immediately.
I know many parents are looking for child care arrangements, such as private child care providers.
While they are able to remain open, these unlicensed day homes can only care for up to six children, not including their own, at any one time.
These arrangements are not monitored by the province, and I encourage parents to seek out more information to make informed decisions.
While grandparents and other seniors are a great help with child care, I would encourage limiting their exposure to children who have any signs of illness.
Older Albertans are at an increased risk of having complications if they were to get COVID-19.
Parents should also take precautions and limit the number of playdates to reduce the chances of community transfer.
Parents should ensure that whether they are having friends or family care for their children…or they’re attending a day home….handwashing facilities or hand sanitizer must be available to children and visitors who are encouraged to wash their hands frequently.
Any day homes – approved or private - should routinely clean and disinfect surfaces that people regularly touch like toys, door handles, keyboards, toilets and tables.
They should also advise visitors and children not to enter if they are feeling unwell.
We all have a role to play in the days ahead.
We have more information to help you plan at alberta.ca/COVID19.
I encourage you to visit this site daily to receive the latest information available.
And today, I added a twitter account – CMOH underscore Alberta to the tools I am using to share information with Albertans.
I know the situation can be overwhelming, and create anxiety, as we watch the global effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
We…as Albertans and Canadians…must come together and support one another.
We most continue to be compassionate and do what we can help one another.
I am hearing from Canadian blood services that they are seeing a decline in blood donations.
The need for blood donors remains strong. It is safe to donate blood during COVID-19. Your donation can help save a life.
As we work to contain COVID-19 and keep the public informed on the situation, we should also think of those who are battling their own health issues, unrelated to COVID-19.
Blood donation can help address the feeling of helplessness people have in the face of COVID-19. Gaining a sense of control by helping others can help contribute to an overall sense of wellbeing.
The health of Albertans is, and always will be, our top priority.