COVID-19 Updates: Protecting Albertans from the Omicron variant.
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Good afternoon everyone.
I want to begin by letting you know that we have identified our first COVID-19 case in Alberta on a First Nation.
Alberta Health Services is working with Sucker Creek First Nation to follow up on a single case there. This individual was a contact of a case in High Prairie and is currently self-isolating.
There is no outbreak on the First Nation, and we are disclosing this case at the request of the Nation to make sure people have accurate information.
The First Nation was well prepared, like other First Nations and they are responding effectively, with help from AHS and Indigenous Services Canada.
I also want to note that this community is dealing with a non-COVID-related emergency in the form of a flood. It is important to make sure those efforts are not hampered by inaccurate perceptions.
As serious as COVID is, communities across Alberta are dealing with other challenges as well.
I’d like to commend Sucker Creek First Nation for showing exceptional resilience, with support from a strong partnership of health services and all levels of government. And they have my best wishes as they deal with this issue of the flood.
For the daily numbers, we have confirmed an additional 306 cases over the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases in Alberta to 3,401.
Of these, 1,310 people have recovered.
Unfortunately, I must also report 5 additional deaths today, bringing our total to 66.
There are also two additional deaths in Brooks in people with COVID tests pending. One of these individuals was a worker at the JBS plant site.
While we do not know if these two deaths were COVID related, I want it to be clear that investigations are underway to determine that.
I want to offer my condolences to the family and friends of all who have lost loved ones.
As I have said before, whether we lose loved ones from COVID or other causes during this time, our grieving process and ability to gather is different under the current restrictions.
My sympathies go out to all those mourning the loss of loved ones.
Today’s total case numbers include 32 confirmed cases directly linked to the Kearl Lake outbreak. Of these 25 individuals are located in Alberta, with 10 being isolated at the work camp and 15 off-site. In addition, seven cases are now being managed outside Alberta with five in BC, 1 in Saskatchewan and one in Nova Scotia.
You have heard me talking in previous days about the work to verify case numbers. So while this may seem like a rise, I want to assure people that what has happened is that we were able to bring all the sources of information together to get the accurate count for today.
As of today, there are 375 cases and 44 deaths in continuing care facilities across Alberta.
I know many Albertans, including me, want the numbers to stop growing, and for outbreaks to end as soon as they are identified.
Believe me when I say we are doing everything possible to limit the spread of this virus, both within outbreak settings and across Alberta.
My local AHS counterparts are working hard to limit the spread in the households linked to the Cargill plant and other outbreaks, and to protect the health of everyone involved.
Many of the new cases today are linked to outbreaks in Brooks and in households linked to the Cargill plant, which is a reminder of how quickly the virus can spread through close contact.
I am working with my colleagues in AHS to offer all necessary supports to households impacted by this virus so that the spread can be stopped.
We continue to need all hands on deck to keep the spread of the virus contained, not just in outbreaks but all across the province. That means not just those in formal positions and those who are employed in the response, but also those who are volunteers, supporting their communities.
On that note, I want to echo the comments made by Premier and Minister Aheer.
Anyone connected to the health system knows the incredibly important role that volunteers play in delivering care to Albertans.
Even in the best of times, we could not function without them.
COVID-19 is a unique challenge, and the need for volunteers is greater than ever.
I have often said that we are all in this together. That is why I am asking that any Albertans who are not at high risk of severe outcomes, and are able to volunteer, consider how they might contribute.
I know that, during COVID-19, volunteering may seem dangerous.
Of course, volunteers must follow all necessary precautions to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus, for their own protection and the protection of those they help.
We have guidelines available on our website to support organizations and individuals looking to protect their health and the health of those around them.
It is equally important that we recognize the volunteers and acts of generosity that are occurring all around us.
If you know an amazing volunteer, tell them how much you appreciate them, and definitely nominate them for the new recognition program.
Kindness is contagious, and our greatest strength during COVID-19 is each other.
I would like to end by reiterating that testing for COVID-19 is available to anyone with symptoms in the province.
Our testing rate continues to be one of the highest in the world, and we have the capacity to enable anyone with symptoms to get tested.
I have heard some reluctance from some people to get tested, and I would say to anyone who is ill and not sure if they should be tested, that the more information we have about the spread of the virus in our communities, the better equipped we are to plan our return to more activities and businesses operating.
Without this information, it’s like driving in the dark. Help us shed light on what our current situation with the virus is by getting tested.
If you are experiencing a fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath or a runny nose, please complete the online health assessment to arrange for testing to happen.
As always, thank you for doing your part to contain the spread. We are always stronger together.