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Coronavirus daily briefing – March 24: Alberta’s second death at Calgary care centre; projections are ‘best guesses’

Alberta’s second coronavirus death was a woman in her 80s from a southeast Calgary continuing care facility.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health made the announcement Tuesday, in the daily COVID-19 briefing. Along with that, Dr. Hinshaw announced an additional 57 cases in the province, bringing the total to 358.

Of the 358 cases, 19 have been hospitalized, with seven people in intensive care units, Dr. Hinshaw said. Twenty-eight cases may have been linked to community transmission.

Right now, Dr. Hinshaw said they believe the most recent coronavirus death, confirmed at the McKenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre in Calgary, was from community transmission as they have not located any other source.

“I would like to extend my sympathies to this woman’s family and loved ones. This news is extremely sad for all of us,” said Dr. Hinshaw.

One staff member and two other residents at the facility have tested positive for COVID-19, and 11 other residents are displaying symptoms, she said. Tests for these residents are pending.

Restrictions were placed on entry into seniors complexes and continuing care facilities, limiting it to one person per residents and that person must submit to testing for the virus.

Self-isolation is critical, said Dr. Hinshaw

Dr. Hinshaw acknowledged that thousands of people are going to be returning home from abroad in the coming weeks. She said it’s critical that returnees self-isolate for 14 days regardless of any apparent symptoms.

An Alberta news release states that this means not going to the grocery store, not stopping at the kennel to pick up your dog, not dropping the RV off for service or storage and not having friends and family over. It means going directly home and isolating for 14 days.

“Every day, we’re working together to ensure that we are doing everything we can to stop the spread and keep each other safe. Every single Albertan has a role to play,” said Hinshaw.

Coronavirus projection models are ‘best guesses’

Dr. Hinshaw didn’t bite on reporter questions asking how bad it could get here in Alberta. Her response came from questions on reports that the Saskatchewan Health Authority claimed that as many as 30 per cent of residents would contract the virus.

“I think the important thing to remember about models is that models are always best guesses and they’re based on looking at data from other jurisdictions, and again, making those kinds of guesses about what might happen in the future,” she said.

Dr. Hinshaw suggested that the number the reporter quoted was Saskatchewan’s ‘worst-case’ scenario. She said that the important number isn’t that of quantity of cases, it’s over what dimension of time that the cases come in.

“If you have 30 per cent of the population infected over a one month period, that has a very different impact from 30 per cent of the population being infected over three to four months,” Dr. Hinshaw said.

“Every model is going to be incorrect in some way. These are simply guesses, but that people take and try to make their best estimates.”