There have now been confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus in the Didsbury and Innisfail areas, as well as an additional case in the Olds area and seven in Red Deer County, officials said.
As of Monday, there are 690 confirmed cases in the province, including two in the Olds area, one in the Innisfail area, and one in the Didsbury area, according to the provincial government's geospatial mapping of confirmed cases.
There are no confirmed cases in the Sundre area.
While there was already one confirmed case in the Olds area, last week saw the first confirmed cases in Didsbury and Innisfail, as well as a new case in the Olds area.
Officials have declined to say whether the cases are in towns or rural areas.
Red Deer County Mayor Jim Wood said the latest COVID-19 infection figures presented a “very, very serious” situation the rural municipality is facing.
He said it is critically important for everyone to listen carefully to the instructions advanced by health-care officials.
“I think the key thing for this after listening to the health folks talk is that in order for it to be beat we have to stop the passing of this virus back and forth to each other,” said Wood, also noting the “terrible” situation facing local businesses.
“The finances for anyone when their doors are shut is not good,” he said.
However, Wood commended senior levels of government for their quick responses to introduce plans for financial support, which he added, will give hope to citizens and business owners for the future.
“I think it is extremely important for people who are sitting at home without work right now,” said Wood.
“There is positive outlook for them to see into this future. This is an extremely important time, an uncharted time that we have not had to deal with. I think it is extremely important that everyone realizes that we will get through this. It is going to take time.”
Town of Didsbury Mayor Rhonda Hunter says she is not surprised that there are now cases in the region.
“Our chief medial officer of health has been saying all along that it is going to touch every community,” said Hunter. “It is inevitable. The important thing is not where it happens. The most important thing is that they get well again. We certainly extend our thoughts to them that they recover and get well.”
Hunter says practising social distancing is everyone’s responsibility.
“You can’t say that enough times,” she said. “It is so important. We absolutely endorse that and encourage that. We have to take it seriously.
“It’s hard not to be out in the community but we need to respect those guidelines.”
Hunter called on people to help local businesses as best they can.
“It is very hard on them,” she said. “Our businesses are so important and so vital to our communities. We are thinking of them now. We hope everyone can weather this storm.”
There are now a total of 94 confirmed recovered cases.
Boundaries on the government’s geospatial COVID-19 map are developed and managed by Alberta Health, she said.
They are not based on municipal or health region boundaries.
Alberta Health spokesperson Melissa Ballantyne said in a statement provided to the Albertan that, “Alberta Health Services has directly contacted any individual considered exposed to these (661) cases and these people are now also in self-isolation and being tested for COVID-19. This is called contact tracing, and is done in response to each case of COVID-19 we confirm by lab testing.”
Law enforcement agencies have now been granted full authority to enforce public health orders and issue fines to ensure self-isolation orders are being followed in Alberta.
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