What you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Saturday, Oct. 31

The latest:

  • Halloween is going ahead amidst the pandemic, and Alberta’s chief medical officer of health says there are ways to ensure you have a safe and happy holiday.
  • Alberta’s data system will be undergoing some maintenance over the weekend, meaning no new numbers will be reported this weekend or on Monday. Data updates are set to resume on Tuesday.
  • Starting next Monday (Nov. 2), the COVID-19 symptom list for Albertans under the age of 18 is changing. Runny nose and sore throat will be removed from the list of symptoms that require mandatory isolation for children.
  • Alberta reported 622 new cases on Friday, bringing the total active cases in the province to 5,172 — another new high after hitting record numbers nearly every day for the past week.
  • Five more people have died, bringing total deaths in the province to 323. 
  • There are 140 people in hospital, 25 of whom are in intensive care.
  • If you’re wondering how to handle Halloween this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, here are some ideas on how to trick-or-treat, give out candy or celebrate in a different way — without the fear of catching or spreading the coronavirus.
  • The province has brought in new mandatory limits of 15 people at most social gatherings in Edmonton and Calgary.
  • The province is also recommending voluntary measures in both cities: wearing non-medical masks in all indoor work settings, except where people are alone in an office or cubicle, or a barrier is in place, and limiting themselves to no more than three cohorts. 
  • It also recommends that people in Edmonton and Calgary limit themselves to no more than three social cohorts.

(CBC)

What you need to know today in Alberta:

Alberta set another record on Friday with 5,172 active cases of COVID-19, an increase of 251 from the day before.

The death toll now sits at 323, up five from Thursday.

Five more deaths were reported on Friday. They involved:

  • A man in his 70s from Edmonton zone, not linked to continuing care.
  • Two men, one in his 80s and another in his 90s, linked to the outbreak at the Edmonton General Continuing Care Centre in Edmonton.
  • A man in his 80s linked to the South Terrace Continuing Care Centre in Edmonton Zone.
  • A man in his 70s linked to the outbreak at the Peter Lougheed Centre in Calgary.

Starting Monday, the COVID-19 symptom list for Albertans under the age of 18 is changing. Runny nose and sore throat will be removed from the list of symptoms that require mandatory isolation for children.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said the changes to the symptom list are intended to get children and teenagers back into child care or classrooms as quickly and safely as possible, while minimizing the risk of COVID-19.

In the last week, she said, more than 3,400 children and youth who were tested for COVID-19 reported having a sore throat. Just over 700 of them had a sore throat as their only symptom, and less than one per cent of their tests came back positive.

Meanwhile, the number of cases of COVID-19 among school-aged children in Alberta has again surged to a new high, while the number of kids and teens being tested continues to decline.

Data from Alberta Health shows the number of new daily cases has continued to rise among five- to nine-year-olds and has again shot up, especially, among 10- to 19-year-olds.

Over the past week on record, an average of 85 cases were recorded per day among school-aged kids and teens.

Alberta has reported a total of 27,664 cases since the pandemic began. Before this past week, which set new records on multiple days in a row, the highest active case total was 3,022, which was reported on April 30 at the peak of the first wave.

The active case rate per 100,000 people is 130.8 in Calgary and 185 in Edmonton. 

A snapshot of the active COVID-19 cases by health district in Calgary as of Oct. 28. (CBC)

A new temporary measure, which caps attendance at 15 for events where people will be “mixing and mingling” like parties and baby showers, applies in the Calgary and Edmonton areas.

The province is also recommending two voluntary measures in both cities: wearing non-medical masks in all indoor work settings, except where people are alone in an office or cubicle, or a barrier is in place, and limiting themselves to no more than three cohorts. 

The federal minimum security Pê Sâkâstêw Centre in Maskwacis has been locked down after two staff members tested positive for COVID-19. Another three staff members are self-isolating at home. 

A spokesperson for Correctional Service Canada told CBC News they don’t believe the infected employees were in close contact with any of the inmates.

An outbreak at the Calgary Correctional Centre has gotten bigger, according to new numbers provided by Alberta Health Services. As of Friday, 104 inmates and 20 staff members have tested positive.

Albertans have been administered more than 597,000 doses of the flu shot so far this year, an increase of more than 50,000 when compared to the same time period last year.

“Thank you for doing your part to help stop the spread of influenza, and helping our health system stay focused on the pandemic response,” Hinshaw said Thursday.

Health officials have said this year it is more important than ever to get the flu shot because of the pandemic. 

Here’s the regional breakdown of active cases reported on Friday.

  • Edmonton zone: 2,312,  an increase from 2,277 the day before.
  • Calgary zone: 2,034, an increase from 1,879 the day before.
  • North zone: 353, an increase from 325 the day before.
  • South zone: 276, an increase from 256 the day before.
  • Central zone: 178 an increase from 162 the day before.
  • Unknown: 19, a decrease from 22 the day before.  

Find out which neighbourhoods or communities have the most cases, how hard people of different ages have been hit, the ages of people in hospital, how Alberta compares to other provinces and more in: Here are the latest COVID-19 statistics for Alberta — and what they mean

Dr. Neil Collins gives CBC Calgary’s Rob Brown an update on the hospital capacity in the city. 4:50

What you need to know today in Canada:

As of 11:20 a.m. ET on Saturday, Canada had 234,083 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases, with 28,230 of those active. Provinces and territories listed 195,719 as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 10,134.

On Friday, health officials in Canada reported a record-breaking number of new cases, totalling 3,457.

Manitoba saw 480 new cases on Friday, representing its highest single-day spike. Winnipeg will be placed under “red alert” pandemic restrictions starting on Monday.

Saskatchewan reported 82 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, breaking the record for the highest single-day jump in new cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

Quebec reported 1,064 new cases on Saturday, which was down from 1,108 new cases on Friday.

The province will receive about 453,000 in total, with a little less than half of that order expected to arrive by the end of this week. That means Quebec will receive about 37 per cent of the 1.2 million kits being deployed across Canada by the federal government.

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on Canadians suffering from mental illness, opioid addiction and other substance abuse problems, says a new study released today by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) which confirms anecdotal reports warning that the pandemic’s health consequences extend well beyond the novel coronavirus itself.

(CBC News)

Self-assessment and supports:

With winter cold and influenza season approaching, Alberta Health Services will prioritize Albertans for testing who have symptoms, and those groups which are at higher risk of getting or spreading the virus.

General asymptomatic testing is no longer available to anyone, but voluntary asymptomatic testing is available to:

  • School teachers and staff.
  • Health-care workers.
  • Staff and residents at long-term care and congregate living facilities.
  • Any Albertans experiencing homelessness.
  • Travellers requiring a test before departure.

Additional groups can also access asymptomatic testing if required.

The province says Albertans who have returned to Canada from other countries must self-isolate. Unless your situation is critical and requires a call to 911, Albertans are advised to call Health Link at 811 before visiting a physician, hospital or other health-care facility.

If you have symptoms, even mild, you are to self-isolate for at least 10 days from the onset of symptoms, until the symptoms have disappeared. 

You can find Alberta Health Services’ latest coronavirus updates here.

The province also operates a confidential mental health support line at 1-877-303-2642 and addiction help line at 1-866-332-2322, both available 24 hours a day. 

Online resources are available for advice on handling stressful situations and ways to talk with children.

There is a 24-hour family violence information line at 310-1818 to get anonymous help in more than 170 languages, and Alberta’s One Line for Sexual Violence is available at 1-866-403-8000, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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