Alberta’s top physician says get used to the “new normal.”
Dr. Deena Hinshaw provided another update Saturday on the conronavirus pandemic.
Ten additional cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Alberta bringing the total number of cases in the province to 39.
Six of the new cases are in Calgary Zone and four are in Edmonton Zone.
There are no confirmed cases in South Zone.
Hinshaw says given the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, they know parents, students, and school officials are very concerned. “I want to assure all Albertans that their children’s safety is top of mind in all our decisions, and we are making the best public health decisions we can with the information we have, in this rapidly developing situation. We are prepared to make changes if and when the situation warrants it.”
A conference call was held Saturday with the chief medical officer of health and more than 500 representatives from Alberta’s school boards, school authorities, and education stakeholders.
On March 13, Alberta recommended that schools remain open at this time. The World Health Organization does not recommend school closures as the only way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in children.
Alberta continues to monitor the province’s situation carefully. If the situation warrants it, the Alberta government could direct the closure of an individual school, a group of schools, an entire school division, or all schools in the province. This would be a decision of Cabinet’s emergency management committee.
In meantime, all schools should take steps to protect the health of students and staff:
- eliminate large gatherings of students
- ensure no more than 250 people are in the same room at any given time
- consider cancelling extracurricular activities that involve physical contact
A new guide has been developed to help schools and daycares reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. The guide is available at alberta.ca/COVID19.
We will continue to update this document based on feedback received from education stakeholders.
There are more and more flights with passengers confirmed to have the virus. Albertans should self-monitor their air travel, so that public health officials can use their time to trace other contacts. Those who have recently returned to Alberta via a flight, are encouraged to visit alberta.ca/COVID19 for flight information and to self-isolate if found to be at risk of exposure.
Government will be posting flight information that includes the flight number, date and any seats on the flight that might be at risk of exposure to COVID-19. Passengers in affected seats are encouraged to self-isolate for 14 days after arrival in Canada and monitor for symptoms. Other passengers are not required to self-isolate but should monitor for symptoms as a precaution.
Certain professions may be exempt from travel restrictions. Any exemptions are being determined on a case-by-case basis after consultation with industry stakeholders. At this time, flight attendants and pilots are exempted from travel recommendations, provided they practice good hygiene and take precautions to limit their risk.
(Government of Alberta release on COVID-19)