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Coronavirus daily briefing – April 1: Long term care, personal health and wellness

Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health said her major concern was with the province’s long term and continuing care facilities as another coronavirus-related death was reported in a southeast Calgary centre.

Over the past 24 hours, the province added another 117 COVID-19 cases to the provincial tally, putting the total at 871. Of those 871 cases, 94 are believed to be community transmission.

The jump in the number of confirmed cases is due to a backlog of tests being completed after they dealt with a testing supply issue over the weekend.  More than 50,000 tests have been completed across Alberta.

They completed 4,500 tests in the past 24 hours and roughly two per cent came back positive, Dr. Deena Hinshaw said.

Long term care centre concerns

Another death was recorded Wednesday at the McKenzie Towne long term care facility. It’s that location’s fourth death.

“At this moment, my greatest concern is about the health and safety of those in continuing care and other congregate settings,” said Dr. Hinshaw.

There are currently 41 cases of COVID-19 at continuing care facilities, with 35 of them from an outbreak at the McKenzie Lake facility in Calgary. Other cases are at the Shepherd’s care centre in Edmonton, the Carewest Glenmore Park facility and the Father Lacombe nursing home.

“Alberta Health Services is working closely with each site to do everything possible to protect residents, while also ensuring they continue to get the daily care and support that they need,” said Dr. Hinshaw.

“Strict infection prevention protocols have been implemented at each site to stop the spread.”

Dr. Hinshaw said they’re looking at other ways to stop the spread of COVID-19 in these vulnerable populations.

Other healthcare concerns from Albertans

In her daily briefing, Dr. Hinshaw covered two other areas: personal care and prescriptions for COVID-19 prevention.

She’s heard from physicians that patients are afraid to seek care due to ongoing coronavirus concerns. Dr. Hinshaw said it’s important you contact your doctor with any health issues that pop up.

To start Wednesday’s briefing, she talked about the other medical situations Albertans are facing at this time.

“I know that many Albertans continue to face a wide range of other health issues every single day. Babies are still being born. Essential surgery is still taking place. People are still receiving care after suffering injuries, while others are receiving cancer treatments,” she said.

“Deaths are still occurring from a wide range of illnesses. While we are focusing on the pandemic before us, I want to stress that all lives are important, and our health system cares about all of them.”

She encouraged people to take advantage of visits to family doctors if they have health issues.

Dr. Hinshaw also drew attention to the concern over the increase in anti-virals, antibiotics and anti-malarial therapies that were being prescribed as potential treatments for COVID-19.

These included office use, personal use and for family members.

Dr. Hinshaw said there is no robust evidence suggesting these are effective treatments.

“This is inappropriate. These behaviors must stop,” she said.

“These very same medications are used for patients suffering from chronic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and HIV in a time when there are serious concerns about potential shortages of medication, any misuse, stockpiling or inappropriate prescribing, or dispensing should not happen.”