‘We must take action’: Alberta CMOH likens quickly spreading virus to snowball as province adds 1,549 cases

EDMONTON — Ahead of a meeting with government officials who will decide on a strategy to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the province, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health announced the province confirmed 1,549 new cases of the disease in the last 24 hours.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw also reported five more COVID-19 fatalities, bringing the province’s total number to 476.

“It’s clear that we have reached a precarious point in Alberta. The virus is spreading faster and more widely than at any other point in the pandemic,” Hinshaw told Albertans.

“Last Monday, we announced 860 new cases. On Sunday, less than a week later, we announced 1,584. The number of fatalities from this virus is growing and the number of hospitalizations and ICU admissions continues to rise.”

As of Monday, 328 Albertans were in the hospital with COVID-19, 62 of whom were receiving intensive care.

‘THIS IS LIKE A SNOWBALL ROLLING DOWN A HILL’: HINSHAW

Hinshaw spoke briefly before heading to a meeting with the cabinet’s priorities implementation committee, which was discussing that afternoon which restrictions to announce on Tuesday.

She did not specify what recommendations she’d be making to the officials, but reiterated change was needed to slow the spread of the virus.

“This is like a snowball rolling down a hill, growing bigger and faster and it will continue unless we implement strong measures to stop,” Hinshaw said.

“We must take action. Waiting any longer will impact our ability to care for Albertans in the months and weeks ahead.”

She also warned Alberta is likely to see a spike in hospitalizations and ICU admissions in the coming weeks, regardless of what restrictions are put in place, due to a seven-to-10 day lag period that she said generally follows a rise in cases.

CHANGE IN CONTACT TRACING

The growth of COVID-19 in Alberta has officially surpassed the capacity of the province’s contact tracing system.

On Monday, Hinshaw also announced that Alberta Health Services would not be calling COVID-19-positive Albertans to contact tracing or a case investigation if 10 days had passed since they received their result.

Instead, they’ll receive a text notifying them they will not receive a call and guidelines about the duration of their isolation period.  

Investigators will focus their efforts on the newest cases and work their way backwards, prioritizing cases in school and health care systems.

This is a breaking news story. Information will be updated as it becomes available. 

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