While international travel remains the greatest risk for contracting COVID-19 and returning travelers should continue to heed self-isolation advice, deputy chief medical officer of health D. Marcia Johnson said Saturday the Alberta government will respond to increased community transmission by “gradually” shifting testing emphasis next week.
“We have to carefully switch the emphasis of our testing and the target our testing, but not leave behind returning travelers,” Johnson said.
Next week, she said police will be given power to issue fines to deal with “people that might not be following the recommendations.”
In addition, a plan to give public health inspectors ability to monitor large group gatherings, restaurants and businesses is underway and will be rolled out next week.
“To make as much cohesion in a society as we can, it is nice to have a mechanism to nudge the reluctant people more towards helping keep our community safe,” Johnson said. She did not provide any detail on those plans, only saying they would be rolled out next week.
Johnson also expressed her gratitude to all Albertans for continuing to take necessary steps to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“I know these steps may be particularly difficult on the weekend, when many of us would normally be ... out and about with our family and friends,” she said.
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The number of community transmissions is on the rise, at 16 suspected transmissions to people within communities. That is up by five people compared to Friday.
As of Saturday afternoon, there were 31 new cases of people with COVID-19 in Alberta, bringing the total number of Albertans confirmed to have contracted the virus up to 226.
Johnson announced currently 11 people are hospitalized, and six have been admitted to intensive care units, which is one addition compared to yesterday.
No additional Albertans have died from COVID-19, since the government announced on Thursday the first death of a man in his 60s from the virus. There were no updated figures on people who have recovered from the virus, which on Friday was three people.
Johnson reminded Albertans to be vigilant of telephone and online scams, and emphasized no one from Alberta Health Services would ever call and ask for someone’s social insurance number, credit card or banking information.
Calgary continues to have the highest number of cases of people who have contracted COVID-19 at 139, with the Edmonton zone following with 57.