On Saturday, health officials announced that the number of COVID-19 cases in Alberta has risen by 31 since the day before, bringing the total to 226.
“We suspect that up to 16 of these cases may be due to community transmission,” said deputy chief medical officer of health Dr. Marcia Johnson at a news conference.
She added that 11 people are now hospitalized from the virus, with six of them in the ICU. One additional person has required ICU admission since Friday.
There have been no additional deaths in Alberta. Johnson said that Friday there were three people who had recovered, and the province did not have updated numbers on whether there were more recoveries.
She added that one of the cases announced on Saturday was in a seniors home but it would not be disclosed for privacy reasons.
Aggregate data, showing cases by age range and zone as well as by local geographical areas, is available online at alberta.ca/covid19statistics.
As of March 21, the province has administered 23,513 tests to Albertans.
There was less of an increase on Saturday in the province compared to Friday, when there was a rise of 49. However, Johnson said there wasn’t enough data to draw a conclusion that the lower number of new cases was a direct result of social distancing.
“It is too soon to make that conclusion on one day’s information,” she said.
“The whole aim of all the social distancing restrictions that we’ve put in is to decrease the number of people getting ill and to decrease the speed at which they’re getting ill.”
Johnson said that the province is stressing that people continue taking 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.
“For many Albertans, weekends mean fellowship in their chosen faith community as well.”
She added that worship can continue, as long buildings house under 50 people and proper handwashing and distancing takes place.
The province is also warning of an increase in scam calls as worries for the virus rise, especially with the elderly.
“No one from Alberta Health or Alberta Health Services will be calling and asking for social insurance numbers, credit card numbers or banking information,” Johnson said.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials say the risk is low for Canadians but warn this could change quickly. They caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.
For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.
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