Hinshaw introduces ‘voluntary measures’ in Edmonton zone as Alberta adds record 364 cases

EDMONTON — The chief medical officer of health implemented voluntary measures in the Edmonton zone surrounding size gatherings, cohorts and masks on Thursday as cases of COVID-19 grow at a fast rate.

Alberta reported a record daily increase of 364 cases of the coronavirus, increasing active infections in the Edmonton zone to 1,251.

The city of Edmonton itself also recorded a record total case increases of 226 and saw its active case count grow by a record 132 cases

As a result, Dr. Deena Hinshaw introduced three voluntary measures in an attempt to curb the spread of the disease in the capital region.

“We must take action to slow the virus’ spread in the zone and make sure the health system can continue supporting Albertans with COVID-19, influenza and many other needs.”

FAMILY AND PRIVATE GATHERINGS

Hinshaw encouraged Edmontonians to limit family and private gatherings to no more than 15 people, down from the previous 50.

“The fewer people we come into contact with, the lower risk of exposure or us exposing others,” she said.

Schools, or gatherings such as worship events where organizers ensure COVID-19 protocols are followed, are not impacted.

But, if possible, Hinshaw suggests that weddings and funerals be kept to that 15-person maximum.

MASKS IN INDOOR WORK SETTINGS

People who work indoors are encouraged to wear masks unless they are alone in an office, cubicle or are divided by barriers, and she emphasized that people who work together are not in an cohort.

COHORT LIMITS

She also encouraged people in the capital region to keep their cohorts at three: a household cohort, a school cohort, and no more than one social, sport or other group.

“These measures are voluntary because we still have sufficient hospital beds and capacity to meet the current needs in Edmonton,” Hinshaw said.

“We have been clear with the relaunch framework about the two measures that would cause mandatory restrictions to come back in place, which is a rise in hospitalizations greater than five per cent over two weeks, or an increase in ICU bed utilizations, so 50 per cent or more of our ICU beds are occupied.”

HOW COVID-19 IS SPREADING IN EDMONTON

The city of Edmonton has 1,112 of the zone’s active cases.

“All parts of the Edmonton Zone are being impacted by the rising spread of the virus, either directly or indirectly,” Hinshaw said.

Alberta Health Services found that 36 per cent of active cases were exposed by a close contact, and another 26 per cent are linked to an outbreak.

“Where transmission is known, household or community contacts appear to be a key driver in spreading the virus throughout the city,” the doctor explained. “Social gatherings and family gatherings continue to be a factor in virus-spreading events.”

Alberta reported two more deaths Thursday, both linked to the outbreak at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary.

The COVID-19 outbreak at the Shepherd’s Care Centre in Mill Woods has grown to 68 cases in 46 residents and 22 employees. Five residents have died and one staff member has recovered.

There are 77 Albertans in hospital with COVID-19, including 13 in intensive care.

Alberta has reported 19,718 cases, 17,338 recoveries and 283 deaths since March.

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