Advice on the Coronavirus |

Advice on the Coronavirus

March 12

Please see the statement from the Chief Medical Officer at 3.30  today.

First, I want to announce that Alberta is adopting aggressive new public health measures to limit the spread of this virus.

"As I mentioned yesterday, COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving global threat. It is more severe than seasonal influenza, and more contagious than viruses like SARS.

"There is a window of opportunity for Alberta to slow the spread of the virus, and thereby protect the health of Albertans. Other countries who have faced this crisis have proven that immediate public measures are necessary to prevent the spread of the virus and protect public health.

"The steps we take now and in the days ahead will help determine the severity of this outbreak for Alberta.

"These are extraordinary circumstances, and our public health response must rise to the challenge we face. That is why, effective immediately, we are asking all large gatherings or international events in the province to be cancelled and advising Albertans against travel outside of the country.

"By "mass gathering", we mean any mass gatherings of more than 250 people. This includes large sporting events, conferences and community events.

"It does not extend to places of worship, grocery stores, airports or shopping centres.

"Any event that has more than 50 attendees and expects to have international participants, or involves critical infrastructure staff, seniors, or other high-risk populations should also be cancelled.

"Events that do not meet these criteria can proceed, but risk mitigation must be in place such as sanitizer stations and distancing between attendees.

"At this time, schools and daycares can remain open but steps should be taken to ensure that no more than 250 individuals are in the same room at any given time.

"Any travel outside of the country is also not being recommended at this time. Given the rapid global spread of the virus, it is no longer possible to assess health risks for the duration of the trip.

"I appreciate that some Albertans may be disappointed at this news. This is a serious decision, which we do not make lightly.

"We are taking this step based on the ongoing developments outside Alberta, both in the actions being taken by other jurisdictions, as well as the increasing spread of cases around the world.

"Here at home, we continue to work hard to identify new cases and take immediate action. As mentioned earlier, there are now four new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alberta.

"All of these are individuals in the Calgary zone. They involve a range of ages in people who had recently returned from travelling in Jordan, Egypt, France, Germany, and the United States, specifically Florida.

"One of these cases is a young child who is now recovering at home.

"This child returned with their family from a vacation in Florida and developed mild symptoms once back home in Alberta. They attended a local daycare last week while experiencing mild symptoms. This child tested positive yesterday and is now recovering in isolation at home. They are expected to make a full recovery.

"As soon as the case tested positive, health officials took immediate action to protect the health of the child, and other Albertans. On the advice of Alberta Health Services, the daycare has temporarily closed to limit exposure to the virus.

"All close contacts who may be at risk have been contacted by AHS. Those who display symptoms are being tested and all contacts are self-isolating for 14 days while being monitored by health officials. I want to remind Albertans that anyone who has not been contacted directly by Alberta Health Services is not at risk.

"As a mother myself, I know that a child contracting COVID-19 may be upsetting for some people. Children are a vulnerable group and when they get sick, it can often hit very close to home.

"I want to assure all parents that cases of COVID-19 in children are typically mild. Children also do not make up a large proportion of cases. In China, where the coronavirus outbreak began, children made up just 2.4% of all reported cases.

"In addition, evidence to date does not indicate that transmission of infection from children to adults is a major driver of the epidemic.

"We cannot be complacent, but this is information that has been reported both in China and, closer to home, in the cases in British Columbia.

"In addition to the measures announced today, I continue to strongly urge all Albertans to follow the public health advice that we have been providing:

"If you are returning to Alberta from outside of Canada, please monitor your health and, if you experience symptoms, self-isolate immediately and call Health Link at 811. Do not visit long-term care facilities if you are sick with a fever or cough. All Albertans should practice good hygiene, including washing their hands regularly and avoiding touching their face and eyes.

"Develop a plan for what might need to change if you and your loved ones need to stay home for two weeks. Talk with your neighbours and friends to see how you can support each other if any of you are in this situation.

"There is another important part of preparing: talking to your children. All parents and guardians should to talk to their children about this virus, if they haven't already done so.

"As a mother, I know these conversations can seem daunting to many parents. It is important to remember that children look to adults for guidance during new or stressful events. If you do not provide them with accurate information, they will still pick things up at school, on the playground, from television and online.

"It is important that all parents talk to their children in a factual, age-appropriate way. Let them know that worrying is a normal and healthy response. Be honest and accurate. Evidence to date suggests that the vast majority of kids who contract COVID-19 experience mild symptoms.

"Most importantly, parents should make their children feel safe and educate them on everyday actions they can take that will help them reduce the spread of germs. We are developing materials to help parents with these conversations. There are also good resources available now from the BC Centre for Disease Control, CDC and others.

"Any public health emergency can have a significant impact on the mental health of children and adults alike. I want to remind all Albertans of the importance of supporting their mental health, and the health of those around them.

"The COVID-19 pandemic will take many weeks and months to unfold.

"It's important that all Albertans know that mental health supports are available if needed.

"Anyone struggling with their mental health can reach out to the Mental Health Help Line which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Help is also available across Alberta through your local health services.

"Children and teens can also call or text the Kids Help Phone at any time of day or night. This is a free, confidential and professional service designed to meet our young peoples' needs.

"Many, many health professionals and other Albertans are working very hard, often around the clock, to limit the spread of COVID-19.

"Given the global spread, and our ongoing work to aggressively identify and isolate cases of COVID-19, I expect that we will continue to confirm new cases in the days ahead.

"Rest assured that Alberta continues to work closely with our health partners to closely monitor developments around the world. If we need to implement additional public health measures, we will do so.

"The health of Albertans is, and always will be, our top priority."

Here is the link to the video 

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