ALBERTA – Encouraging Albertans to find innovative ways to celebrate the holiday weekend, Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw is calling on Albertan’s to practise social distancing and stay home and to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“This weekend and the weeks ahead will be a difficult test for all of us who normally come together to celebrate the holidays,” Hinshaw said. “We must remain vigilant to protect ourselves, our family and those in our community. We must remain physically apart during these religious holidays.”
On Thursday (April 9) Hinshaw said there have been 28 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in Alberta bringing the provincial total to 1,451. Of these cases, 592 patients have recovered and 32 people have died.
It is believed that 192 of these cases occurred via community transmission.
In the Bow Valley, the Municipal District of Bighorn region, formerly known as the Canmore region which includes Canmore and some of the MD hamlets, has 14 cases – nine active and five recovered. The ID No. 9 region, formerly known as the Banff region which includes Banff and Lake Louise has three positive cases – all active.
Hinshaw implored Albertans to stay home if they are feeling ill over the long weekend and remain committed to practicing social distancing, using good hygiene and following the public health measures.
“These measures small as they may seem may mean the difference between life and death for someone,” Hinshaw said. “We need to mindful now more than ever that our actions carry consequences for all of us.”
Hinshaw said Albertans should remain home in their communities over the long weekend. She added that for those planning on attending a religious celebration in a car for drive-in services, only members of the same household should be in a vehicle together.
“This year I ask you to look at other ways you can celebrate the holidays while practising physical distancing,” Hinshaw said. “Be physically distant but virtual connected.”
There are early signs the public health measures put in place are effectively lowering the transmission of the virus, Hinshaw said, explaining that there has been a significant drop in the number of influenza cases in the last two weeks.
Alberta Minister of Health Tyler Shandro added that Alberta Health Services is expanding its capacity of care during the pandemic with the construction of a temporary acute care structure at the Peter Lougheed Centre in Calgary.
Based on the modelling data compiled by Alberta Health Services the number of people infected with the virus will continue to rise in the province, he said, and there will be a corresponding increase of those requiring hospital care.
He noted that the Calgary zone has accounted for 61 per cent of COVID-19 cases in the province. Shandro added the Peter Lougheed Centre has been one of the busiest hospitals in the province during the pandemic.
The hospital was chosen, he said because it is one of two centres where COVID-19 patients are treated.
The temporary structure has been donated by the Alberta-based company Sprung Structures and will create 100 acute care beds and up to 6,000 square feet of treatment space. The interior will be designed to support patients throughout the pandemic.
The structure is expected to be constructed by the end of April, Shandro said, adding that planning for the structure is already underway.
Alberta Health Services has invested $3 million to ensure the site can supply safe delivery of care to patients. The structure will be staffed by current Peter Lougheed Centre health care workers.
“Our health system is working around the clock to ensure that every Calgarian and every Albertan who enters a health care facility in the weeks ahead receives the care that they need,” Shandro said.