Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced on Monday that health officials have identified two more schools where transmission likely occurred within the learning institution.
The first case of transmission within a school setting was announced on Friday by Hinshaw, meaning that one individual’s reason for infection is believed to be linked to another member of the school. The two most recent schools where transmission likely occurred are Vimy Ridge School in Edmonton and Springfield Elementary School in Peace River.
“As I stressed on Friday, this is not unexpected, and is not a cause for alarm,” said Hinshaw. “As we have seen transmission in other settings, we will see some cases where this happens in classrooms.”
Six new school outbreaks have also been identified since Hinshaw’s update on Friday, for a total of 19. An outbreak is declared when there are two or or more confirmed cases in individuals who were at the school within a 14-day time period.
“That is a very low number to reach and is not an indication of uncontrolled spread,” said Hinshaw.
Two schools have at least five cases and have been placed on “Watch”: St. Wilfrid Elementary School and Vimy Ridge School.
So far, 81 schools in Alberta have had at least one COVID-19 patient among students and staff, with 126 total cases between them. Whenerver, there’s a case, all teachers and classmates of the patient are required to self-isolate at home for 14 days.
Hinshaw said that five school alerts have already ended, allowing students and staff to return to school. In each case, there was no sign of transmission that resulted from the potential exposure.
Hinshaw said that only three per cent of schools in the province have had a COVID-19 exposure within the first three weeks of the fall semester. Of those schools, in school transmission has only been identified in about three per cent of them.
“We will continue to monitor closely as always, but this is a positive start,” said Hinshaw.
The province’s chief medical officer continued to note that it’s expected that the province will see cases in schools as long as there’s transmission in the community. In mid-April, the province saw its general COVID-19 peak, but also the most cases among school aged children, despite everyone being under lockdown.
“What’s really critical for schools is that they don’t become a place where transmission happens and spread happens quite broadly,” said Hinshaw. “Our kids are best served by education in person. And that has an overall benefit to their health much bigger than just the benefit of maintaining protection from COVID-19.”
On Monday, Hinshaw also announced that the province’s labs identified 119 new cases between Friday and Saturday, 102 between Saturday and Sunday and 137 between Sunday leading to Monday.
One more person has also died. The victim was a patient at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, where an outbreak has been declared. So far, 14 patients and four staff members across three different units have now tested positive for the virus in connection to the outbreak.
Three-hundred and twenty-two more patients have also recovered throughout Alberta, which now has 1,459 active cases. Of those currently infected individuals, 747 of them are in the Edmonton zone and 462 are in the Calgary zone.