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Daily briefings: Alberta’s first death, new Calgary measures, two coronavirus recoveries

The first coronavirus-related death has been confirmed in Alberta, after an Edmonton man died Wednesday, according to Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.

But, Dr. Deena Hinshaw also reported the first two people that have recovered.  

In Thursday’s briefing with media, the province confirmed 27 new cases, bringing the provincial total to 146. Eight of the new cases are believed to be community transmission. Nearly 17,000 people have been tested for coronavirus in Alberta.

A man in his 60s, with underlying medical conditions, is the first Alberta death recorded due to the COVID-19 virus. The man was admitted to the intensive care unit in Edmonton on March 12 and died Wednesday.

“This is extremely sad news and all of us involved in Alberta’s COVID response feel this very deeply,” said Dr. Hinshaw.

“All of our thoughts are with this man’s family and loved ones.”

Dr. Hinshaw underscored the importance of Albertans taking the appropriate precautions. Some people experience milder symptoms and may not take it as seriously, but it has a major impact on others, she said.

“We are doing all we can to fight the spread of this virus. This is why we have taken the extreme measures we have,” she said.

“We will get through this. But to do that we need everyone’s help. Take this seriously.”

Community transfer at Edmonton bonspiel

Apparently the president of the Saskatchewan Medical Association, who attended the Western Canadian Doctors curling bonspiel held in Edmonton late last week had tested positive for COVID-19, Hinshaw said.

She said that at time, they had the mass gathering limit set at 250, but that additional health measures, including social distancing, should be in place. There was also a banquet with 45 attendees.

“I absolutely say that anyone who attended that is needing to self-isolate for 14 days, because clearly there was transmission at that event,” said Dr. Hinshaw.

They are following up with an aggressive public health investigation for anyone that was attending the bonspiel in Edmonton, she said.

Dr. Hinshaw also fielded questions about a person from the Pacific Dental Conference in Vancouver (where a number of cases have been connected) who wouldn’t self-isolate. That was passed to Dr. Mark Joffe.

Joffe said they were able to connect with the individual and they are now self-isolating.

Calgary takes new measures to prevent the coronavirus spread

As we had earlier today, the city has suspended the 2020 civic census. The city also said that starting Friday, it would be rear entry only on Calgary Transit buses.

Further, the Fair Entry site at the City of Calgary Municipal building is closed. All applications and Fair Entry Services must be made by phone, online, mail or fax, the city said.

The Planning and Development counters are now temporarily closed and they will only be accepting applications by secure drop off or through the city’s online system.

There are several changes to the city’s waste and recycling services.

Earlier in the day, Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the city would be allowing Calgary homeowners to defer payments of their city utility (water, sewer, recycling, garbage) through June.

“You can pay it, you can pay a portion of it, or you can defer it,” said Nenshi.

“And what will happen is that the money owed will be rolled over no penalties, no interest into your final six payments of the year.”

The United Way of Calgary and Area, along with the City of Calgary and Alberta Health Services launched the Community Response Fund. It’s a citywide fundraising effort in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We know many people do not have a support system around them if they contract COVID-19 or need to self-isolate,” said Karen Young, President and CEO, United Way of Calgary and Area.

“Through our partnership with The City, we are pleased to provide a leadership role in establishing and managing the fund to ensure critical social services continue to be available for people when they need them. One collaborative city-wide fundraising effort makes it easier for Calgarians to contribute and ensures an effective, coordinated response to support the local community.”

More information on the City of Calgary’s response to COVID-19 can be found here.

COVID-19 recoveries

Dr. Hinshaw was asked about the first COVID-19 case in Alberta and whether that person had already recovered as it’s been two weeks. She wasn’t certain about that specific case, but she said it was a good reminder that they need to include those people who have recovered in the province’s daily statistics.

“It’s my understanding that we have at least two individuals who are previous cases who have recovered,” said Dr. Hinshaw.

“So again, this is a good reminder that that’s something we’ll need to add on. Because those are those signs of hope that we know that many people who get this do recover, and so we’ll make sure that number gets updated.”