What you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Sunday, Nov. 22

The latest:

  • New numbers are expected to be released by the province around 3:30 p.m. on Sunday.
  • Alberta yet again surpassed record high COVID-19 cases on Saturday, with another 1,336 people testing positive, 320 people in hospital and 56 in intensive care.
  • It’s the fourth time Alberta has reported more than 1,000 cases in a single day — the first time was one week ago. 
  • By comparison, Ontario — which has three times the population of Alberta — reported 1,418 new cases on Friday. Quebec, which has twice the population of Alberta, reported 1,259 new cases.
  • Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, had said Friday that the impact of the new restrictions — put into place last Friday — would start to be seen this weekend. Instead, cases have continued to hit record highs. 
  • Alberta also reported nine more deaths, bringing the total to 471. The deaths include a woman in her 20s — just three deaths of people in their 20s have been reported in the province, and none younger than their 20s. 
  • The province said the woman in her 20s who died lived in the south zone and had comorbidities, but declined to share any further details, citing patient confidentiality.
  • There are nearly 4,400 active cases in Calgary and more than 4,900 active cases in Edmonton. 
  • Pfizer said Friday it is asking U.S. regulators to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine, starting the clock on a process that could bring limited first shots as early as next month.
  • Alberta expects roughly 680,000 vaccine doses will arrive in early 2021.
  • Alberta Health says the median time between identifying a positive case and notifying close contacts is between seven and 10 days. 
  • First Nations in Alberta are seeing the highest number of COVID-19 cases compared with reserves in other parts of Canada.The latest data shows 860 cases since the pandemic hit — the next closest is Manitoba with 710, according to Indigenous Services Canada.
  • Alberta hospitals are tightening restrictions on visitors as the second wave of infections hits, with patients in all hospitals now limited to one or two designated family or support people for their entire stay.  
  • Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro is defending the province’s COVID-19 tracing app despite revelations it has tracked just 19 cases since the spring.
  • From last Friday to Nov. 27, in much of the province, the government suspended indoor group fitness programs, team sports and group performance activities, and reduced operating hours for restaurants, bars and pubs in much of the province. 
  • Canadians travelling to Hawaii this winter will be allowed to avoid quarantine so long as they show proof of a negative COVID-19 test, under new rules announced Thursday.

(CBC)

What you need to know today in Alberta

As of 12:50 p.m. ET Sunday, Canada’s COVID-19 case count stood at 328,402, with 52,624 of those considered active cases. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 11,443.

Dr. Joe Vipond, an emergency doctor and clinical associate professor at the University of Calgary, said with an eight per cent hospitalization rate and 3.5 per cent mortality rate — that could mean 106 new hospitalizations and 46 deaths from Saturday’s newly reported cases alone.

This week has set multiple records for the province, which only surpassed 1,000 daily new cases for the first time on Nov. 14. The province’s deadliest day was Monday, when 20 more deaths were reported. It also surpassed 10,000 active cases for the first time — the number of active cases now sits at 11,274. 

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, had said Friday that the impact of the new restrictions — put into place last Friday — would start to be seen this weekend. Instead, cases have continued to hit record highs. 

Nine more people have died, bringing the total deaths in the province to 471. The deaths include a woman in her 20s — just three deaths of people in their 20s have been reported in the province, and none younger than their 20s. 

Pfizer said Friday it is asking U.S. regulators to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine, starting the clock on a process that could bring limited first shots as early as next month and eventually an end to the pandemic — but not until after a long, hard winter.

Should ongoing trials for COVID-19 vaccine candidates continue successfully, Alberta expects it will receive around 686,000 doses early in the new year of the Pfizer vaccine and 221,000 of the Moderna vaccine.

Speaking Friday at a press conference, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said the situation in Alberta was “grim” and noted that two individuals in their 30s were among the deaths announced during this past week.

“Having a chronic medical condition is very common,” she said. “These conditions include things like high blood pressure and diabetes. In Alberta, almost one quarter of all adults over the age of 20 have a chronic condition. That is almost 800,000 people.”

Alberta’s health minister is defending the province’s COVID-19 tracing app despite revelations it has tracked just 19 cases since the spring.

Tyler Shandro said Tuesday he is in favour of all resources that help in the fight against the pandemic, but reiterated the federal app isn’t a good fit for Alberta. 

Alberta and British Columbia are the only provinces that have not signed onto the federal app, COVID Alert, which has been downloaded well over five million times.

The Opposition accuses Shandro of refusing to adopt the federal app because of long-standing personal and political friction between United Conservative Premier Jason Kenney and Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

AHS says the number of “unknown sources” of transmission among active cases on Wednesday was 76 per cent. But Hinshaw has said we should not be looking at active cases for unknown source cases. Hinshaw has said older data sets are more accurate because they have had more time to contact trace those cases. The province ultimately can’t identify the sources in almost one in three cases, she said.

As of Nov. 15, about 40 per cent of cases were linked to households or social gatherings or private events, she said. Another 10 per cent were linked to continuing care centres, four per cent to child care or K-12 schools, and three per cent to acute-care outbreaks.

Temporary new provincial restrictions kicked on Nov. 13. Until Nov. 27, indoor group fitness programs, team sports and group performance activities are suspended in Edmonton and surrounding areas, Calgary and its area, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Fort McMurray and Red Deer.

All restaurants, bars, lounges and pubs in Calgary and Edmonton and other areas under enhanced status (areas with more than 50 active cases per 100,000 people) must stop liquor sales by 10 p.m.

Premier Jason Kenney urged Albertans in any area under enhanced measures to not to have social gatherings in their homes.

WATCH | What is a ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown and does it work?

Worksites in the province’s oilsands are dealing with multiple outbreaks. As of Thursday morning, there were  six active outbreaks at oilsands sites, with 10 active cases tied to those outbreaks.

Over the course of the pandemic there have been roughly 258 cases of COVID-19 linked to oilsands work sites in Wood Buffalo, according to Alberta Health. 

Canadians travelling to Hawaii this winter will be allowed to avoid quarantine so long as they show proof of a negative COVID-19 test, under new rules announced Thursday.

Air Canada and the Calgary-based WestJet made the arrangements with Hawaii, which will come into effect in December.

David Ige, governor of the state, said Canada represents the second-largest international market for the islands.

This map shows the active cases count in different health zones of Calgary and area on Nov. 19. (Evelyne Asselin/CBC)

Here is the regional breakdown of active cases reported on Saturday:

  • Calgary zone: 4,394, up from 4,272 reported on Friday.
  • Edmonton zone: 4,941, up from 4,520.
  • North zone: 661, up from 651.
  • South zone: 592, up form 569.
  • Central zone: 605, up from 564.
  • Unknown: 81, up from 79.

Find out which neighbourhoods or communities have the most cases, how hard people of different ages have been hit, the ages of people in hospital, how Alberta compares to other provinces and more in: Here are the latest COVID-19 statistics for Alberta — and what they mean

What you need to know today in Canada:

Canada’s COVID-19 case count — as of Friday evening — stood at 320,719, with 52,739 of those considered active cases. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 11,334.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday warned that a “normal Christmas” this year is “right out of the question” with cases of COVID-19 surging around the country.

National modelling predicts a worst-case scenario of 60,000 cases per day by the end of the year, according to modelling charts prepared by the Public Health Agency of Canada and seen by CBC News.

British Columbia has brought in wide-ranging new rules for controlling the spread of COVID-19, including mandatory masks in indoor public and retail spaces and restricting social gatherings to household members only for everyone across B.C.

Meanwhile, Toronto and the neighbouring Peel Region are going back into lockdown, as of Monday. Several other regions of Ontario will move to higher restriction levels.

Ontario reported another 1,534 cases of COVID-19 and 21 more deaths on Saturday.

In Atlantic Canada, new restrictions are coming into effect starting Monday for most of the Halifax region, and will remain in place until at least Dec. 21.

New Brunswick reported 23 new cases on Saturday.

Quebec reported 1,154 new cases and 23 more deaths on Sunday. The latest major outbreak in the province is at a Quebec City convent, where 39 nuns and 43 workers at the Soeurs de la Charité in suburban Beauport have tested positive.

Manitoba introduced new COVID-19 restrictions on Thursday that ban people from having anyone inside their home who doesn’t live there, with few exceptions, and businesses from selling non-essential items in stores.

The province reported 387 new cases on Saturday, and 10 additional deaths.

Within weeks of the coronavirus pandemic being declared, one premier after another made tough promises to stop price gouging on essential products. Yet, CBC’s Marketplace has learned that despite tens of thousands of reported complaints, little legal action has been taken across the country.

Marketplace reached out to all provinces and territories and was told consumer complaints to government only led to one business being charged. It’s unclear how many, if any, charges were laid by local bylaw officers. 

Self-assessment and supports:

With winter cold and influenza season approaching, Alberta Health Services will prioritize Albertans for testing who have symptoms, and those groups which are at higher risk of getting or spreading the virus.

General asymptomatic testing is currently unavailable for people with no known exposure to COVID-19.

Those who test positive will be asked to use the online COVID-19 contact tracing tool, so that their close contacts can be notified by text message.

The province says Albertans who have returned to Canada from other countries must self-isolate. Unless your situation is critical and requires a call to 911, Albertans are advised to call Health Link at 811 before visiting a physician, hospital or other health-care facility.

If you have symptoms, even mild, you are to self-isolate for at least 10 days from the onset of symptoms, until the symptoms have disappeared. 

You can find Alberta Health Services’ latest coronavirus updates here.

The province also operates a confidential mental health support line at 1-877-303-2642 and addiction help line at 1-866-332-2322, both available 24 hours a day. 

Online resources are available for advice on handling stressful situations and ways to talk with children.

There is a 24-hour family violence information line at 310-1818 to get anonymous help in more than 170 languages, and Alberta’s One Line for Sexual Violence is available at 1-866-403-8000, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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