Another 18 Albertans have died of COVID-19, the province announced Friday.
The newly reported deaths from the novel coronavirus come from across the province, including five deaths in the Alberta Health Services Calgary zone.
They bring Alberta’s toll from the pandemic to 684 deaths. The province has logged 110 deaths from COVID-19 since the start of December, setting a pace for the deadliest month of the pandemic yet. In November, 241 Albertans died from the virus.
“I know the current gathering restrictions make it difficult for the family and friends of these individuals, and for anyone who has lost a loved one from any cause, to grieve in the ways we are used to,” chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said.
Four of the deaths in the Calgary zone were linked to outbreaks at long-term care centres. The fifth was a woman in her 80s linked to an outbreak at Calgary’s South Health Campus, where three units have declared COVID-19 outbreaks. This is the first death reported in outbreaks at that hospital.
Alberta is further restricting visitation rules in acute-care sites as concerns mount over virus transmission in the facilities, Hinshaw said.
Beginning Monday, access will be limited to a single person for each patient in ambulatory care, emergency departments, urgent care, maternity and postpartum, and other in-patient areas.
Meanwhile, only two support persons will be allowed to critical care, pediatric and neonatal intensive-care units, Hinshaw said.
“We know these restrictions will be difficult, especially during the holiday season, but they are needed to stop the spread of the virus and keep patients safe,” Hinshaw said.
“We must do everything we can to bend down the curve. There is no other option.”