WESTLOCK — Seven more people tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend in the Westlock area.
Since the start of the pandemic, the area that includes Westlock County, the Town of Westlock and the Village of Clyde has recorded 61 cases. Currently, 24 are active and 37 have recovered.
Alberta Health Services confirmed today that five of those positive cases are at the Westlock Continuing Care Centre: four patients and one staff member.
Provincially, record-breaking case numbers continue. Since yesterday, 860 new cases were confirmed in the province and 12,000 tests were performed for a seven per cent positivity rate.
“These numbers continue to be concerning. While we have spoken of Edmonton hospital capacity and surgery cancellations, I want to stress that this is a concern across the province,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the provincial chief medical officer.
There are 10,031 active cases in Alberta. Hospitalizations rose to 264, with 57 people in ICU — bed capacity sits at 81 per cent.
Twenty people have died since yesterday. This brings the COVID-19 death toll in Alberta to 427.
“These are not just numbers, these are people. As our cases rise, our death will rise. … The measures in place right now are literally a matter of life and death,” Hinshaw said.
Contact tracing still a challenge
Contact tracing continues to be a challenge for AHS. Each positive case has an average of 15 close contacts during their infectious period, Hinshaw said, and phoning nearly 15,000 people per day is nearly impossible.
She urged those who test positive to use the online contact tracing portal and close contacts to respond to the notifications they get.
So far, 21 per cent of the positive cases have used the portal. All information is anonymous.
Again, COVID is not like influenza
Hinshaw again stressed that COVID-19 and influenza are not one and the same. This year, no cases of influenza have been confirmed in a lab.
Last year, 8,470 influenza cases were confirmed and 41 people died. Nearly 1.1 million people got immunized this year, compared to 947,000 last year.
“This is not an influenza season. This is a global pandemic that requires each and every one of us to pull together to protect our communities, families and friends.”
Outbreaks are also an indicator, Hinshaw said. COVID-19 caused 49 acute care outbreaks which resulted in 42 deaths since March despite significant measures, compared to 40 influenza outbreaks that led to 13 deaths with no measures over the course of an entire year.
“COVID is more dangerous than influenza, both at an individual and population level.”
Extraordinary measures mean enhanced safety and limited capacity, Hinshaw said: multi-bed rooms are not used as frequently, and controls on staff are much stricter since they can’t work if they’ve been exposed, have symptoms of have tested positive.