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Cancel large gatherings, Alberta says

Four new cases confirmed, including a child who is expected to make a full recovery
Dr. Deena Hinshaw announces new measures for Albertans to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on March 12.

Effective immediately, the Alberta government is asking all large gatherings or international events in the province to be cancelled.

"There is a window of opportunity for Alberta to slow the spread of the virus, and thereby protect the health of Albertans," Hinshaw said. "The steps we take now and in the days ahead will help determine the severity of this outbreak for Alberta."

Organizers are advised to cancel any events that have more than 250 attendees. This includes large sporting events, conferences and community events. It does not extend to places of worship, grocery stores, airports or shopping centres. 

Any event that has more than 50 attendees and expects to have international participants, or involves critical infrastructure staff, seniors or other high-risk populations should also be cancelled. 

"Events that do not meet these criteria can proceed, but risk mitigation must be in place, such as sanitizer stations and distancing between attendees," Hinshaw said. 

Schools and daycares can remain open, though steps should be taken to make sure no more than 250 people are in the room at the same time.

"Given that we have no vaccine, no preventative medication for this particular virus, we are each other's best protection and measures like this will help us protect our Albertan population and prevent spread."

When asked if individuals could catch the virus while swimming at pools, Hinshaw said COVID-19 is not transmissible through water. However, people are advised not to share water bottles, as the virus could be spread that way.

Four new cases

Alberta has announced four new cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing the total in the province to 23. 

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health, said all four cases are within the Calgary zone, involving individuals who have travelled from Jordan, Egypt, France, Germany and the United States, specifically Florida. 

One case involves a two-year-old who is recovering at home after developing mild symptoms upon returning from vacation with family in Florida. The child also went to a daycare downtown Calgary from March 2-6 while exhibiting symptoms, and the daycare has temporarily closed to limit exposure.

The child tested positive yesterday, March 11, and is expected to make a full recovery.

While hearing of a positive case of COVID-19 involving a child "may be upsetting," Hinshaw said cases of novel coronavirus in children are typically mild.

"Despite that, we need to take the same measures for children that we need to take for any other case. Isolate the person who is ill, find close contacts, and ask them to stay home for 14 days while monitoring their symptoms."

The other three newly confirmed cases involve a woman in her 30s, a male in his 50s, and a woman in her 70s. 

All close contacts have been identified by Alberta Health, Hinshaw said, and anyone who has not been contacted is not at risk. 

Expanding on previous recommendations, all Albertans are now advised to avoid any travel outside of Canada. 

"Given the rapid global spread of the virus, it is no longer possible to assess health risks for the duration of the trip."

All Albertans should practice good hygiene by washing their hands frequently, cover coughs and sneezes, and avoid touching their face and eyes.

It's also recommended for everyone to develop a plan should they ever need to go into isolation for two weeks. The City of St. Albert has a webpage with a list of resources, including a 72-hour kit checklist.

"Talk to your neighbours or friends and see how you can support each other if any of you are in this situation," Hinshaw said.

All parents are asked to talk to their children about the virus, and the province is expected to release materials to help guide conversations soon.

Additional cases so far

  • A woman in her 50s living in the Calgary zone who returned from travel onboard a Grand Princess cruise ship in California on Feb. 21.  
  • A man is his 40s within the Edmonton zone. Health officials confirmed the second case late afternoon on March 6.  
  • A male in his 60s who lives in the Edmonton zone. He was on the Grand Princess Cruise and returned to Alberta on Feb. 21.
  • A woman in her 30s from the Calgary zone.
  • A woman in her 70s from the Edmonton zone was on the Grand Princess cruise before returning to Alberta on Feb. 21. 
  • A man in his 30s from the Calgary zone is the sixth case. He was in close contact with the province’s fourth case.  
  • A woman in her 50s returning from a Caribbean cruise on the MS Braemar cruise ship on March 4.
  • A man in his 70s from the Edmonton zone.
  • A woman in her 60s, who travelled with the province's eighth case, from the Edmonton zone.
  • A female in her 30s  from the Edmonton zone.
  • A man in his 50s from the Calgary zone.
  • Two females in their 30s from the Calgary zone.
  • A female in her 40s from the Calgary zone.
  • A man in his 30s in the Edmonton zone whose symptoms started on March 6. He had a procedure, not related to the coronavirus, at the Misericordia Hospital in northwest Edmonton on March 6 to 7. He tested positive on March 9.
  • A man in his 20s from the Calgary zone.
  • Two women in their 30s from the Calgary zone.
  • A female in her 30s from Central zone.
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