Coronavirus: Daily Briefing – Help for Albertans, hospital restrictions, cases rise to 119

Several measures taken by Alberta government; more expected this week

Dr. Deena Hinshaw (left), Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health at the media briefing March 18.

New provincial financial measures were put in place, along with hospital visit restrictions as Alberta’s coronavirus case count grew by 22.

On Wednesday, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw updated media on the current situation with COVID-19. Alberta’s total case count is 119.

There are 83 cases in the Calgary Zone. Six of the Alberta cases are the result of community transmission, Hinshaw said.  Two of those are from the Calgary Zone. Six individuals overall are receiving treatment in hospital, and three are in intensive care.

The province’s self-assessment tool has been accessed 1.3 million times as of Wednesday morning, and nearly 15,000 COVID-19 tests have been administered.

“Per capita, we are testing more than any jurisdiction in North America,” said Dr. Hinshaw, noting it was one test per 290 Albertans.

New health measures to stop spread of COVID-19

As of this afternoon, visits to Alberta hospitals and care centres will be restricted.

All visitors must be symptom-free, Dr. Hinshaw said. Only one visitor will be allowed at a time.  Children will not be allowed to visit. Hinshaw said they sometimes show no symptoms of few symptoms of COVID-19. Some cases will be reviewed and approved by Unit managers, Dr. Hinshaw said.

If you have any symptoms: cough, fever, loose stool, or general unwellness, you can’t visit a loved one in hospital. If you are self-isolating, awaiting test results for COVID-19, or are confirmed with COVID-19, you can’t visit anyone in hospital.

Hinshaw asked that people use other methods like phone, video calls or FaceTime to stay in contact with these loved ones.

“We recognize that this will likely be difficult for families and loved ones. We must do all we can to minimize the risk of infection, to our residents and staff,” said Dr. Hinshaw.

She also acknowledged that all of the measures in place are testing the resolves of many families.

“COVID-19 has forced us to make some extremely difficult decisions. We’ve had to weigh lives against livelihoods,” she said.

“In order to save lives, I have had to make recommendations that will take away livelihoods for so many Albertans.”

Alberta announces new help for citizens amid health and economic crisis

Hours after the federal government announced new measures to help Canadians struggling to deal with the fallout of the coronavirus, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveiled the first step of Alberta’s COVID-19 financial response.

In the Alberta legislature Wednesday, Premier Kenney said that while people should feel great anxiety, he urged them to have faith in their institutions and in one another.

“Having said that, this public health crisis has been matched by economic challenges of, I believe, an increasingly unprecedented nature,” he said.

“We know that the coronavirus has caused the collapse in global demand and the onset of a worldwide recession. It is hard for us right now to grasp the potential depth of that recession.”

He outlined economic contraction in the US projected to be 14 per cent in the second quarter; Europe 30 per cent. He mentioned Western Canada Select oil trading at $9. The province budgeted $58 per barrel for West Texas Intermediate and it hovers in the low to mid $20s.

“We have never experienced anything like this in the history of our energy industry,” Premier Kenney said.  

Kenney rolled out a $572 bridge payment for people self-isolating – until the federal protection kicks in May 1. Utility charges for residential, farm and small commercial can be deferred 90 days without people being cut off.

There is a six-month moratorium on paying down student loan debt.

Further, the province, in coordination with the federal government, will suspend the collection of corporate income taxes until August 31, 2020.

“The more employers who are able to maintain operations and continue to pay their staff, the greater the chance we have of keeping Albertans working,” Premier Kenney said.

Further measures are expected Thursday and Friday, he added.

More information can be found here.

About Darren Krause 570 Articles
Journalist, husband, father, golfer, writer, painter, video gamer, gardener, amateur botanist, dreamer, realist... never in that order.

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