Lethbridge, Banff house parties spark COVID-19 concerns

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A pair of house parties in southern Alberta last month led to charges for organizers in one instance, and a call from the province for attendees to get tested in the other.

An early-morning St. Patrick’s Day bash, which had approximately 50 attendees, led RCMP to charge two men for violating public-health rules on gatherings.

Officers in Banff responded to the party on Wolf Street around 2:20 a.m. on March 18 after receiving a call from a concerned citizen.

“Officers shut down the party and removed all occupants. Subsequent to that, they investigated who was the owner of the property,” said RCMP Cpl. Troy Savinkoff.

“With the help of Alberta Health Services, they subsequently charged a couple of people from the party with offences related to failing to follow the health orders of the province.”

The two men, 26 and 21, were representatives of the property where the party was held. They face fines of up to $1,200.

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Elsewhere, AHS took to Twitter Thursday to urge those who had attended two Lethbridge house parties to go get tested for COVID-19 after “several” infections were linked to the get-togethers.

The parties took place on March 13 and March 20 in the same south Lethbridge home. Attendees should get tested for the novel coronavirus as a precautionary measure, AHS said, since an infectious person was also in attendance.

Contact tracing is done anonymously, and people may book tests without revealing where they may have been exposed, AHS said,

Tests for those involved, and for anyone who has COVID-19 symptoms or is a close contact of a confirmed case, can be booked online.

Last week, Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Lethbridge and surrounding communities had been hit hard by a recent surge in infections.

“While there is no single cause of the spike, local health officials have let me know that many of these cases are linked to family gatherings and visitations between households, people with mild symptoms who do not stay home or get tested right away, and faith gatherings where masking or distancing is not happening,” Hinshaw said.

Alberta Health did not immediately respond to inquiries about how many cases of COVID-19 were linked to each house party.

Indoor social gatherings are banned in Alberta amid the COVID-19 pandemic, while a maximum of 10 people may meet for outdoor gatherings.


Twitter: @jasonfherring

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