CALGARY — Alberta confirmed the first presumptive case of the novel coronavirus 12 months ago that would go on to ignite a public health response including lockdowns, masks mandates and many deaths.
On March 5, 2020, the first case of the disease in the province — a woman in her 50s who had returned from a cruise ship off the coast of California — was announced after retrospective testing for influenza confirmed the patient had contracted the novel coronavirus.
Others Canadian passengers who had been on board were asked by public health officials to self-isolate, but the spread was inevitable.
By mid-March 2020, the province and Alberta’s major cities declared states of local emergency.
The province closed schools shifting to online learning and businesses shuttered as social distancing measures were implemented in response to the first wave in the spring.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw addressed the first year of the province’s pandemic response during Thursday’s briefing.
“Together we’ve navigated the uncertainty of COVID-19 and living in a global pandemic. We’ve had to find new ways to work, socialize and look after our health, all while researchers, scientists and health professionals from around the world have worked to learn as much as they could, about this new virus and how best to treat and prevent it.”
December 2020 saw a second wave larger than the first, triggering more pronounced public health restrictions.
As of Friday, the province has recorded 134,785 total cases of the novel coronavirus also known as SARS-COV2.
The current state of Alberta’s pandemic situation includes:
- 331 new cases have been reported after nearly 9,500 tests were conducted Wednesday
- 4,613 active cased reported province-wide as of Wednesday
- Variant cases are up by 33 to a total of to 541 (531 are B.1.1.7.)
- Nearly 10 per cent of active case are variants
- 245 people are in hospital, 47 of those patients are in intensive care
- Nine additional deaths have been reported, bringing the total number of lives lost to 1,911.
A light at the end of the tunnel?
At the one-year mark since the first diagnosed case in Alberta, more than 266,000 doses of vaccine have now been administered to Albertans.
This week, the province announced the distribution of the second dose will be intentionally delayed in order to give more people the chance to receive their first dose.
Health Minister Tyler Shandro said the decision is based on evidence observed in the United Kingdom, Quebec and British Columbia where second doses are also being delayed.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunizations announced Wednesday the recommended interval between doses had been extend from approximately four weeks to four months.
Alberta now says anyone over 18 who wants the COVID-19 vaccine will receive their first dose by June 30. To date, approximately 96 per cent of the province’s vaccine supply has been utilized.
Alberta is currently in Phase 1 of vaccine rollout for seniors born in 1946 or earlier as well as providing shots for First Nations and Métis people age 65 or older.
Phase 2 is scheduled to begin March 10 with Albertans between 50 and 64 years old receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine.