Active COVID-19 cases in the Edmonton zone have more than doubled in recent weeks, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health said Friday afternoon at an update.
As more businesses and services open in the city for Stage 2 of the relaunch, there are 149 active cases in the area, up from 58 three weeks ago, Dr. Deena Hinshaw said.
“COVID-19 is still circulating in our communities and will to do so for months to come,” she said.
Of those cases, two thirds are linked to known sources or outbreaks, but one third has not been tied to any known source.
The province has not linked any new cases to recent public demonstrations, but there has been an increase in the number of people who attended public protests getting tested, she said.
So far, labs have performed 325,148 tests on 291,329 Albertans, with 7,746 tests completed in the last 24 hours.
An outbreak at Alberta Hospital Edmonton now includes seven staff members who have tested positive, but no patients.
Across the province, there were 30 new cases of COVID-19 recorded, bringing the total to 7,346.
With a potential for more social interaction, Albertans face an increased potential for exposure, said Hinshaw. Maintaining physical distance and staying isolated when you feel ill are still important steps to prevent the spread.
More young Albertans are also testing positive. Sixty per cent of the province’s active cases are under the age of 40 years old, and in particular between 20 and 29 years old. Recently investigated cases show that some people feeling encouraged by restrictions being lifted and are socializing more, Hinshaw said. That creates increased potential for infection.
“We’re seeing parties and celebrations where people are coming together, sharing food and drink, enjoying each other’s company after being apart for a long time,” Hinshaw said.
However, the potential to be exposed to COVID-19 still exists, and while younger people might have a low risk of more severe outcomes, their actions are still critical to protect those around them with a higher risk, she said.
There are 26 active cases and 697 recovered cases at continuing care facilities, and 115 facility residents have died.
Provincial officials are now considering ways to lift restrictions for residents of those facilities and their families, as residents continue to feel lonely and isolated, Hinshaw said.
“I think about people in these settings often,” she said.
A reported spike in the sale of alcohol and cannabis since the pandemic began prompted Hinshaw to remind the public of the health risks of their use. She encouraged Albertans to reach out to provincial mental health and addiction supports. “I know this has been and continues to be a stressful time.”
There are 386 active cases and 6,811 recoveries. No new deaths were recorded Friday, leaving that total at 149.
There has been an increase in the total number of hospitalizations, with 53 reported today, six in intensive care units.
One third of the province’s ICU admissions are among people who have no chronic or pre-existing conditions, Hinshaw said. “No one is guaranteed to have a perfectly risk-free course if they do get infected with COVID-19.”