Community transmission of COVID-19 has been higher in the past few weeks in Alberta, and those numbers are reflected in school cases, says the province’s top doctor.
“It is not surprising to see some cases in staff and students of schools,” said the chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw.
Alberta confirmed 418 COVID-19 cases Monday and one additional virus death. The numbers include cases from over the weekend: 105 on Friday, 173 on Saturday and 140 on Sunday.
The number of cases identified were high, and Hinshaw said that’s due to the volume of samples tested over the weekend.
As of Monday morning, the province confirmed 42 cases present at 35 schools, while infectious.
Since Friday’s update, the province has confirmed three school outbreaks. Two of these outbreaks are in the Calgary zone and a third is in the Edmonton zone.
In central Alberta, two schools have reported virus cases: Escuela Vista Grande in Red Deer and Clear Vista School in Wetaskiwin.
A school needs two or more confirmed cases within a 14-day span to be considered an outbreak.
Hinshaw said a small outbreak of two cases at a school does not indicate that other classes are at risk or that the broader community faces the threat of being exposed to COVID-19.
“There is no evidence at any of the school outbreaks that transmission has happened in school,” she said. “This means the virus was brought into the school, rather than being spread inside.”
Hinshaw said 18,919 tests were completed in Alberta on Saturday – a provincial record.
The high number of tests was to tackle a backlog in the system, said Hinshaw, adding these numbers won’t be an everyday occurrence.
“Although our confirmed case numbers from Saturday and Sunday are somewhat higher than they have been in the past while, put in context of the over 33,000 samples run in these two days, these identified case numbers are still managaeable by public health,” Hinshaw said.
There are 1,538 active cases in the province, 49 of which are located within the central zone. The local zone’s numbers are up since the last provincial update on Friday by four.
The active cases in the City of Red Deer is the same as Friday: 16. Eighty-eight people have recovered in the city.
The Town of Sylvan Lake sits at five active cases, Lacombe County at seven, Ponoka County at one – the same as Mountain View County. The City of Wetaskiwin has three cases.
The County of Stettler, Red Deer County and City of Lacombe had zero active cases Monday.
The provincial death toll reached 254 due to the virus Monday. The virus-death toll for the local zone remains at seven.
There are 37 people in hospital with the virus in the province, with seven in intensive care. These patients are not in the central zone.