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Coronavirus: Alberta COVID-19 case total now 4

Two new Alberta cases of coronavirus have been reported, one each in the Calgary Zone and the Edmonton Zone.

Further, the first Calgary case, the woman in her 50s who worked at ATB, has been the province’s first confirmed case. That confirmation came from the national microbiology lab in Winnipeg.

That brings the provincial total to three presumptive and one confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19).

RELATED: The City of Calgary’s infectious disease management plan is activated. What does that mean?

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, said that three of the four cases came from people connected to the Grand Princess cruise. Of the 44 Albertans that were aboard the cruise ship, most have been tracked down and are without symptoms. Those that exhibited symptoms, most tested have come back negative. They’re still awaiting further test results.

“I want Albertans to understand that our public health measures are doing precisely what they were intended to do: detect new cases and take immediate action,” Hinshaw told reporters at a Sunday news conference.

The latest cases involved a man in his 60s from the Edmonton Zone. He was recently on the Grand Princess cruise ship and returned to Alberta Feb. 21.

A woman in her 30s from the Calgary Zone also tested positive for coronavirus after being in close contact of someone that had recently travelled in Europe in the countries of Ukraine, Turkey and the Netherlands.

Both cases are now isolating at home and recovering. Public health investigations are underway for both and their close contacts are being asked to self-isolate.

Health Link 811 call volumes spiked

Hinshaw also addressed calls volumes to the Health Link 811 number Saturday. She said extra staff were brought in and additional steps were taken to address the issue with the telephone carrier.

“Clearly, Albertans are taking our message to heart,” she said, acknowledging the high call volume and inability to get an immediate response must be, “very, very frustrating.”

Reporters questioned whether the province was prepared. Hinshaw said we shouldn’t confuse being prepared with being perfect.

“Being prepared is that we have plans to address the issue,” she said, noting that Alberta Health Services was quickly able to call in staff to address call volumes.

Hinshaw said that of 299 tests they did Saturday, 297 came back negative. She reiterated that risk in Alberta is still low, considering that three of the four cases are connected to the Grand Princess cruise.

Preventing the spread of coronavirus

Hinshaw once again encouraged travellers returning home and exhibiting signs of cough or fever to immediately self-isolate and call Health Link 811 for a test.

Anyone that’s exhibiting symptoms is asked NOT to go to emergency or urgent care centres for testing.

Hand washing is the best defense against the ongoing spread of coronavirus. Wash hands, with soap, regularly, especially if touching often-touched surfaces. Also, limit the amount you touch your face.