“As we say goodbye to summer and head into fall, parents know the chances of their children getting sick increase because we tend to spend more time indoors in the cooler months.

“It is our collective responsibility to create a safer, healthier environment for everyone – especially during the fall season when we see increases in respiratory viruses like influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and COVID-19.

“We all need to take the necessary steps to limit the spread of respiratory viruses. As a mother and grandmother, I understand the anxiety that comes with sending your children back to school. I want to reassure you that Alberta’s government has the health and well-being of all young Albertans top of mind.

“Now that we will be spending more time indoors, we need to make doubly sure we are following proper hygiene protocols like handwashing and staying home when sick. It also means respecting those who choose to wear a mask. More information on immunizations against respiratory viruses including influenza and COVID-19 will be available shortly. We encourage Albertans to speak to their family physician about these options.

“These daily practices will play a pivotal role in safeguarding the public and curbing the spread of infectious diseases.

“We are launching a refreshed reporting dashboard that will align reporting on respiratory illnesses including COVID-19, RSV and influenza. This work is currently underway and will be available in the coming weeks. This change will bring Alberta’s COVID-19 reporting schedule into line with other jurisdictions such as British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia.

“I know there are many people interested in the status of respiratory illnesses in the province. I’d like to provide an update on what we are seeing currently.

“There have been 28 cases of influenza and five lab-confirmed cases of RSV since Aug. 28. This is consistent activity for this time of year. For COVID-19, from Aug. 28 to Sept.8 there were a total of 559 cases and 92 hospitalizations, with three intensive care unit admissions. Sadly, five Albertans died during that period due to COVID-19. As of Sept. 8, 417 people are in hospital, seven of those in the ICU. Approximately 20 per cent of patients were admitted with COVID-19 as the primary or significant contributing cause for admission to hospital. Data for the period of July 24 to Aug. 27 will be available when the new dashboard is completed.

“I want to thank health care workers across the province for their dedication to the health and well-being of all Albertans, especially as the respiratory virus season begins. Albertans rely on you to help them make informed decisions about how to protect themselves and those around them. I am confident that they are in good hands with the world-class experience and expertise that exists in our province.”

*Editor's note: This version has been updated from the previous version.