The Province of Alberta declared a state of emergency March 17 as the coronavirus [COVID-19] world pandemic spreads.
Further restrictions and protective measures were announced by Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health.
“This pandemic will impact all Albertans, no matter where they reside in the province,” Hinshaw says.
“All Albertans need to come together and do their part to help stop the spread of COVID-19.”
Alberta Health Services confirmed 18 new cases March 16 in Alberta.
“We’re continuing to move forward with more aggressive measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in Alberta,” Hinshaw says.
“In the coming days, additional actions may be required.
“The health of Albertans is, and always will be, our top priority.”
Alberta is testing for COVID-19.
“We are acting out of an excess of caution even when the likelihood of exposure is low,” Hinshaw says.
For complete information, visit the websites online at gov.ab.ca or albertahealthservices.ca.
Restricted and Prohibited Locations and Activities
New public health measures were recommended to limit the time Albertans spend in large crowds and crowed spaces starting March 17 at 1:40 p.m.
- Mass gatherings are now limited to no more than 50 attendees, including conferences, worship gatherings, and family events such as weddings and funerals.
- It does not include grocery stores, shopping centres, healthcare facilities, airports, the legislature and other essential services.
- Albertans are prohibited from attending public recreation facilities and private entertainment facilities.
- The order includes gyms, swimming pools, libraries, arenas, science centres, museums, art galleries, community centres, children’s play centres, casinos, racing entertainment centres and bingo halls.
- Albertans are restricted from attending bars and nightclubs where minors are prohibited by law.
- Sit-down restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, food courts and other food-serving facilities, including those with minors-allowed liquor license, are limited to 50 percent capacity to a maximum of 50 people.
Take-out, delivery or drive-through service is permitted.
Licensed facilities are permitted to deliver liquor.
At this time, not-for-profit community kitchens, soup kitchens and religious kitchens are exempt, but sanitization practices are expected to be in place and support will be in place for that practice.
How COVID-19 Spreads
COVID-19 is transmitted through person-to-person spread by:
- Larger droplets, like from a cough or sneeze.
- Touching contaminated objects or surfaces, then touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
COVID-19 is not airborne and cannot spread through the air over long distances or times, like the measles.
Studies suggest that the virus generally only survives for a few hours on a surface, though it may be possible for it to survive several days under ideal conditions.
COVID-19 symptoms are similar to influenza and other respiratory illnesses. Common symptoms include:
- Dry cough.
- Fatigue / extreme tiredness.
Symptom of serious illness include:
- Difficulty breathing.
If you have symptoms:
- Stay home – do not go to an emergency room or clinic.
- If you need immediate medical attention, call 911 and inform them you may have COVID-19.
Most people – about 80 percent – recover without needing special treatment.
However, it can cause serious illness in some, and there is a risk of death in severe cases.
While we are still learning about COVID-19, serious illness appears to develop more often in people who are older or have pre-existing conditions, such as:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease.
- Lung disease.
How to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19
Public health measures are in place to quickly identify potential COVID-19 cases and prevent the infection from spreading.
Influenza and other common viruses remain the most likely cause of a respiratory infection.
All Albertans are encouraged to take personal steps to help prevent the spread.
To protect yourself and others:
- Stay home and away from others if sick or in isolation.
- Wash hands often, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Cover coughs and sneezes.
- Avoid touching face with unwashed hands.
- Avoid travel outside Canada.
- Self-isolate for 14 days if returning from travel outside Canada or were exposed to COVID-19.
Monitor your symptoms:
If you have symptoms, like a dry cough, fever, fatigue or difficulty breathing:
- Stay home. Do not go to an emergency or clinic.
- Take the COVID-19 self-assessment.
- Call Health Link 811 for instructions and testing
Wearing medical masks;
Masks can be very important in certain situations.
- If you are healthy, medical masks are not recommended as they do not provide full protection and can create a false sense of security.
- If you are sick, wearing a mask helps prevent spreading the illness to other people.
This is why people who have a cough or respiratory symptoms must wear masks and wash their hands when visiting an emergency department or clinic.
How to Self-Isolate
If you need to self-isolate, follow these guidelines:
- Stay home! Do not attend work, social events or any other public gatherings.
- Avoid close contact with other people – especially seniors and people with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems.
- Watch for symptoms in yourself or a family member
Monitor your symptoms:
- If you have symptoms, like a dry cough, fever, fatigue or difficulty breathing:
- Stay home – do not go to an emergency room or clinic.
- Take the COVID-19 self-assessment online to determine next steps and find out if testing is required.
Visit the Government of Alberta website at gov.ab.ca.
How to Cope
Mental health and coping:
The COVID-19 pandemic can have a significant impact on Albertans’ mental health. Resources are available if you, or someone you know, is struggling or needs a little extra support.
The Mental Health Help Line is available 24/7 to provide advice and referrals to community supports near you.
Phone (1-877) 303-2642.
Information for Seniors
To prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including COVID-19, among seniors and other vulnerable groups:
- Only essential visits to any continuing care or long-term care facility in Alberta are recommended.
- Individuals over 60 years of age and those with pre-existing health conditions are most at risk of severe symptoms from COVID-19.
- Families and friends of those in these facilities are asked to think of other ways besides visiting that they can support and encourage their loved ones through this difficult time.
Employment rules changes:
The government is taking action to protect Albertans by implementing job-protected leave.
Changes to the Employment Standards Code will allow full-time and part-time employees to take 14 days of job-protected leave if they are:
- Required to self-isolate.
- Caring for a child or dependent adult that is required to self-isolate
To be eligible, employees:
- Will not be required to have a medical note
- Do not need to have worked for an employer for 90 days
This leave covers the self-isolation period recommended by Alberta’s chief medical officer.
This leave may be extended if the advice of the chief medical officer changes.
Business continuity plans
Employers should consider their business continuity plans and how COVID-19 could impact their workplace.
To prepare, make plans to:
- Protect employees.
- Limit spread in workplaces.
- Ensure continuity of critical services if staff are ill or self-isolating.
- Explore alternate working arrangements, such as working from home or remotely doing work that doesn’t require contact with other people.
Travel outside Canada is not recommended for Albertans at this time.
Given the rapid global spread of COVID-19, it is no longer possible to assess health risks for the duration of the trip.
Returned before March 12:
- Travellers returning from Italy, Iran, China’s Hubei province and the Grand Princess cruise ship should self-isolate for 14 days and monitor for symptoms.
- Travellers returning from other countries outside Canada should monitor for symptoms for 14 days.
Returning after March 12:
- All travellers returning from outside Canada should self-isolate for 14 days and monitor for symptoms.
If you develop symptoms – cough, fever or difficulty breathing – stay home and complete the online COVID-19 self-assessment.
Do not go to the emergency room or doctor’s office.
Travel restriction exemptions:
Exemptions will be assessed on a case-by-case basis based on measures industries are already taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
At this time, the following professions have received exemptions: flight attendants, pilots and commercial carriers.