Alberta Premier Jason Kenney was suffering from “a chronic condition he has had since childhood that results in mild congestion during cold and dry weather” and not COVID-19 when he appeared sounding sick at a press conference this week, his office said Wednesday.
The statement, which was posted to social media, came after Kenney’s appearance on Tuesday. He sounded congested, leading to debate online over whether he should have instead remained isolated at home, as per a recommendation from Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw.
“He has spoken with his physician about his condition as it related to COVID-19 protocols,” read the Wednesday statement from Kenney’s office.
“His physician confirmed to him that because his mild seasonal congestion is associated with a longstanding pre-existing condition, it should not be considered a new symptom that would be indicative of COVID-19.”
His spokesperson added Kenney took a rapid test 30 minutes before the press conference, which came back negative, and he was otherwise feeling in good health.
No mention was made of the pre-existing condition earlier when CTV News spoke to a Kenney spokesperson, who confirmed he was feeling “a bit congested.”
Kenney also didn’t mention the condition during his appearance.
Much of the debate centred around advice from Hinshaw, who said during Tuesday’s press conference, “if you have symptoms you should stay home and away from others, even if you feel better,” and “please do not spend time with others if you are feeling sick, no matter what a rapid test result shows.”
Albertans are legally required to isolate and get tested for COVID-19 if they experience a number of symptoms, including:
- New onset of cough of worsening chronic cough;
- New or worsening shortness of breath or difficulty breathing;
- Sore throat;
- Runny nose, and;
- Loss of sense of smell or taste
Those who are not tested for COVID-19 must isolate for 10 days or until they are feeling better, whichever is longer.
Albertans with other symptoms are also advised to be tested, those include:
- Pain while swallowing;
- Stuffy nose;
- Muscle or joint ache;
- Feeling unwell, fatigued or exhausted;
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and;
- Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
On Wednesday, the province announced a new record for daily case counts with 2,775 new cases on Dec. 28. Alberta has reported just over 11,000 new cases and 11 deaths over the last six days.
Wednesday’s full data update was the first since Dec. 23 and includes data from the six days from then to Dec. 28.