Coronavirus Canada updates: Alberta’s top doctor warns of ‘increased potential’ of spread as province reopens

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Coronavirus Canada Updates: Four new COVID-19 deaths in Ottawa, 23 more people test positive
Coronavirus Canada Updates: Four new COVID-19 deaths in Ottawa, 23 more people test positive

With Stage 2 of the province’s relaunch starting today, chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said, “with the increased opportunity for activities and gatherings, there is increased potential for all of us to be exposed to COVID-19.”

Stage 2 features the reopening of indoor recreation areas, which includes gyms and pools, to go along with theatres, wellness and personal services, as well as schools for certain exams and summer courses.

Outdoor events and indoor seated events, such as funeral ceremonies and weddings, can take place with a maximum of 100 people, while indoor social gatherings now have a maximum capacity of 50. As long as physical distance and public health measures are in place, there will no longer be caps on the amount of people who can attend worship gatherings, or patronize cafés, restaurants, bars and lounges.

Since it entered Stage 1 on May 14, Hinshaw has warned people of the impact of increased social gatherings amid COVID-19. Of Alberta’s 386 active cases, 60 per cent of them are under the age of 40, signalling a different trend compared to prior stages of the pandemic.

“Over the past few weeks, we’ve started to see a younger demographic testing positive for COVID-19,” said Hinshaw. “We’re also seeing a particular increase between those aged 20-29.”

Recently, health officials have also seen a rise in Edmonton, where in the past three weeks, the number of active cases went from 58 to 149. Hinshaw said there hasn’t been a single source or cause that’s been identified, and two thirds are linked to a known source.

No cases have also been linked to recent anti-racism protests and demonstrations around the province, said Hinshaw. Protests started on the weekend of May 31 in Alberta, which has led to an increase in testing. Any transmission would also take days to work through the system, she noted.

As Alberta heads into Stage 2, Hinshaw reminded people to maintain distance when possible, to help others in the province who are more vulnerable.

“I am also keenly aware today is not a celebration for everyone,” said Hinshaw. “People will continue to feel anxious… I’m also keenly aware that many residents in continuing care centres and their families continue to feel lonely and isolated. I’m aware of these concerns. I think about these people often.”

On Friday, 30 new cases of COVID-19 were identified in Alberta, after health officials completed 7,746 tests. No additional deaths were reported.

Of its total cases, there are 6,811 people who have recovered from the virus, an increase of 23 since Thursday. Of the 386 active cases that remain, there are currently 53 patients in hospital (up by eight), while there remains six people in intensive care.

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