COVID-19 Updates: Protecting Albertans from the Omicron variant.
Thanks, Tom. Good afternoon and thank you all for coming.
Today, I am reporting that we confirmed 96 new cases of COVID-19 in Alberta.
This brings the total number of cases to 968.
Of these, 174 people have now recovered. That is 32 more than yesterday.
We suspect 108 of our total cases may be community transmission, an increase of 14 from yesterday.
I am also pleased to note that we conducted more than 4000 tests in the last 24 hours, as our lab continues to work at maximum capacity.
Of these tests, approximately 98% came back negative, similar to previous days.
Sadly, I must report two additional deaths related to COVID-19…
- One was a male in his 90s at the McKenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre in Calgary.
- Another, a male in his 80s in the North zone.
My sympathies go out to the families and friends of these individuals.
We now have 74 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in continuing care facilities, and I expect that more to be confirmed in the coming days.
This includes 65 confirmed cases at the McKenzie Towne long-term care centre and 2 new cases in the Manoir du Lac retirement home in the North Zone.
All other cases have previously been reported.
As of today, there are 9 outbreaks at continuing care facilities across the province. Some of these have been opened due to staff working both at McKenzie Towne long term care facility and another site, when these staff have been confirmed as a case.
This is a precaution that we take to ensure that if there has been exposure by staff that is now a confirmed case, that any measures needed to prevent the spread within the second long term care facility are taken immediately.
These additional outbreaks include Cedars Villa Extendicare, Agecare Seton and Carewest Sarcee facilities in Calgary.
I want to emphasize that these outbreaks are a precaution based on staff positive testing.
In addition, we have confirmed one case at the Sheriff King Home women’s shelter in Calgary.
The safety in these facilities is a serious issue, and one that is being faced across Canada.
I know that residents and their families are concerned, and I want to stress that I hear their concerns.
Please know that we are doing everything possible to protect them from COVID-19.
On March 20, I ordered that all visitors to these facilities be limited to only those who are essential in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID to residents.
Since then, I have also issued updated standards for operators and staff of these facilities, including enhanced cleaning protocols and health-screening measures, to prevent outbreaks from occurring.
However, it has become clear over the past couple of days that we must do more to protect those in congregate settings.
That is why, effective today, I am issuing new standards that operators and staff of these facilities must follow in the event of a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 outbreak.
These new standards, enforceable by law, will help ensure that those living and working in congregate settings are kept as physically safe as possible and will mitigate the risk of further spread within and between different facilities.
Under the new orders, staff and operators will be required to notify public health as soon as a case is suspected or confirmed, or if two or more residents exhibit COVID-19 symptoms.
Staff who may work at multiple facilities are required, when there is confirmed outbreak, to immediately inform their supervisors if they have worked at or are working at a facility where there is a confirmed or suspected case.
New directions are also provided on how facilities must operate in the event of an outbreak.
These expectations are designed to limit the risk of spread while ensuring residents can continue to receive the care they need.
This is an important measure, but we must all do our part in keeping the most vulnerable members of our society safe.
If you are feeling ill in any way, stay home.
Practice physical distancing whenever you’re out in public.
Continue to practice good hygiene by frequently washing your hands with soap and water.
I cannot stress enough how important these measures are. COVID-19 is spread by close contact, which means everyone one of us must do our part in breaking the chain of transmission and keeping ourselves and each other safe.
By limiting the spread, we can help keep the virus out of nursing homes, shelters and countless other places.
I know this can be difficult, but it is the best way to limit the spread and save lives.
By the end of today, it is likely we will reach over one million COVID cases worldwide.
The way we go about our lives has changed, and we must continue to adjust to the new normal.
To help protect ourselves, and to protect our families, friends, and neighbours.
This virus has shown how much our individual actions—no matter how small—can impact the lives of others and the tragic consequences that can result.
We are all in this together, and we all have a role to play in keeping each other safe.
Thank you, and I will now take questions.