Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, announced there are 301 total COVID-19 cases in the province on Monday. Nine of them are in Red Deer. (Photo Government of Alberta).

Nine cases of COVID-19 in city of Red Deer, one in the county

Returning snowbirds must self-isolate, says premier

COVID-19 cases are escalating in Red Deer, with a new total of nine in the city.

Of these, five cases are in Red Deer east, four are in the southwest, and none are yet in the north part of the city.

But there’s one known case in Red Deer County.

Over the past 24 hours, 42 new cases of COVID-19 were reported to the province, pushing Alberta’s viral total to 301, said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health.

Eighteen patients are in hospital with the virus and seven are in intensive care. So far, there has been one virus-related death in the province.

Since 24 of the new cases are thought to have resulted from community spread, all Albertans who have travelled — especially returning snowbirds — are being emphatically ordered to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return.

“That does not mean picking their dog up at the kennel. It does not mean that they pick up groceries,” or drop off their RVs at the storage yard, said Premier Jason Kenney on Monday.

He stressed that Albertans who are returning from a winter residence in the U.S. must immediately go straight to their homes and self-isolate for 14 days after crossing the border —no exceptions.

Kenney suggested that snowbirds ask their friends and relatives to get groceries for them or to pick up their pets, so they do not risk exposing others to COVID-19 in case they contracted the virus in the U.S., but are not yet showing symptoms.

The Alberta government has posted public notices of this self-quarantining order in areas where snowbirds overwinter, but Kenney said they will also be informed of it when they cross back into Alberta over the coming weeks.

So far, $100 fines can be imposed on those who don’t follow self-quarantining protocols. But Alberta officials are also looking at stiffer penalties, said Kenney.

Hinshaw stressed the need for a social distancing space of two metres between people. She reported on Monday that 11 of the 47 Alberta Health Services workers who attended a bonspiel in Edmonton on March 11 to 14 tested positive for the coronavirus.

A number of physicians who went back to work were among the infected and could have spread the virus to patients before being diagnosed. Contacts are now being tracked, said Hinshaw.

She added this underlines that even mild symptoms, such as a minor sore throat, runny nose or cough, can result in spreading the infection — as can commonly touched surfaces, such as serving spoons at a buffet.

Kenney is also trying to reduce, as much as possible, the financial strain of shutdowns on businesses by allowing them to defer the education property tax, which will be kept at 2019 levels in 2020.

He also said the provincial government will step in to pay half of the cost for Workers Compensation Board premiums for small- and medium-sized employers this year.


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