Check against delivery

Good afternoon, thank you all for coming.

As Tom mentioned, I am Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Chief Medical Officer of Health for Alberta.

Today, I am announcing that seven new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in our province.

This brings the total number of confirmed cases in Alberta to 14.

A breakdown of each case has been provided in the news release being sent out today.

Three of the new cases are from the Edmonton zone, while the other four new cases are from the Calgary zone.

They involve a range of ages and travel locations outside of Canada.

This includes travellers returning from France, the Netherlands, Egypt, Iran, Taiwan, Germany, Malaysia, Trinidad and Tobago, Panama, the Philippines and the United States.

Many travellers visited more than one country during their trip.

One of the individuals was on the same MS Braemar cruise ship in the Caribbean as a case announced yesterday.

It is important to note that, while this is a list of the countries where these individuals travelled, it is too early to know where each person contracted the virus.

All of the new cases are now recovering in isolation at home.

As with all previous cases, health officials are reaching out to anyone who may have been in close contact with these cases.

I also want to inform you that one of the previously confirmed cases is now receiving treatment in hospital.

The individual who is receiving treatment is someone with a pre-existing chronic health condition.

I know that any rise in case numbers may feel alarming to some people.

Many Albertans are wondering what this means for them, and if cases will continue to rise.

I want to assure Albertans that all of these cases are travel related.

This means that our existing recommendations are particularly important.

I want to remind all Albertans that…

  • If you are returning from outside of Canada, you should closely monitor your health for 14 days.
  • If you start experiencing a fever or cough, even if it is mild, please self-isolate yourself immediately and call Health Link 811.
  • Do not go to an emergency department, urgent care centre, or family doctor’s office for this assessment and testing.

The fact that all of our confirmed cases are travel related also indicates that we continue to take the right approach at this time.

Our public health measures are doing precisely what they were intended to do: detect new cases and take immediate action.

This means that the number of confirmed cases will continue to increase in the weeks ahead.

But, it’s important to remember, that every new travel-related case that is confirmed represents another case where we have taken action to isolate the virus and prevent its spread.

What can Albertans do to prepare and protect themselves?

They can take seriously the role that all of us now play in protecting our fellow citizens.

As I mentioned yesterday, many people who get COVID-19 will experience minor symptoms and even recover on their own, but others are at risk of serious complications.

In particular, COVID-19 can be extremely serious, and even fatal, for seniors and those with underlying health conditions.

If you are feeling ill and are not sure if you should stay home or not….think about the people in your life who have a medical condition or are elderly….and take the action you would want others to take in protecting them.

We continue to ask anyone who is feeling ill to stay home and not visit hospitals, long-term care facilities or supportive living accommodations.

Alberta Health and AHS are developing new precautionary materials for schools, long-term care facilities and others to update them on the situation and provide additional advice.

In addition, I want to emphasize that the risk to Albertans who are traveling outside the country is increasing.

Albertans planning travel in the coming weeks, should carefully monitor the travel recommendations from the Public Health Agency of Canada,

And consider how the evolving situation may impact their travel plans.

This morning, I also participated in a telephone town hall with municipalities and emergency managers to discuss preparations.

While the risk of exposure remains low in Alberta, we are taking all necessary steps to prepare the health system in case the risk level changes in the coming weeks.

Public health officials continue to put in countless hours to investigate, test and help our province get ready.

Through those outstanding efforts, we are preparing for whatever direction COVID-19 takes in the days ahead.

As I mentioned yesterday, we need to get used to a new normal.

This means we all need to be vigilant and take additional precautions to limit the risk for others.

The precautionary measures that you take now will help shield yourself, seniors, and people with pre-existing medical conditions from this virus.

Together, we can protect each other and keep our communities healthy.

Thank you, and I will now take any questions that you may have.