Alberta declares outbreaks at hospital in Calgary, university in Edmonton

Alberta declares outbreaks at hospital in Calgary, university in Edmonton

EDMONTON — A hospital in Calgary was working Monday to contain COVID-19 outbreaks that were identified on the weekend in two separate areas and don’t appear to be connected to each other.

Alberta Health Services said 14 patients and four staff members have tested positive for the novel coronavirus at the Foothills Medical Centre. One patient has died.

The outbreaks are in two cardiac care units and one general medicine unit, and there’s no evidence they’re related.

Dr. Nick Etches, lead medical officer for the Calgary zone, said work was underway to determine how the infection came into the hospital.

“We are managing this incredibly aggressively and chasing down every single lead,” he said.

“But right now, this is a safe place for people and their loved ones to come and receive care.”

The health agency said 57 staff who work in the cardiac and general medicine units were in isolation. Patients in the affected units may not receive visitors except in end-of-life situations.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer, said there have been reports of visitors not wearing masks and a staff member working while symptomatic, though a definitive cause for the outbreaks has not been determined.

“I think it’s really important that we understand what the barriers are to people being able to follow the guidance with respect to not working while symptomatic, to wearing a mask, particularly when in an acute care or long-term care setting,” she said.

“Because the more we understand what got in the way in these instances, the better able we’ll be to prevent that happening again.”

Hinshaw said it’s particularly concerning that the virus has spread in cardiac units, as heart disease is a risk factor for severe COVID-19 outcomes.

In Edmonton, an outbreak at a University of Alberta student residence put varsity athletics on hold for two weeks.

Five members of the men’s residence of St. Joseph’s College tested positive for the novel coronavirus. They and 14 other residents of the building were isolating.

The website for the residence said, along with spiritual direction and daily mass, it is also a leader of the university’s intramural sports program.

Because some athletes live in the residence, the virus could have spread to four teams in three sports, said Andrew Sharman, the university’s vice-president of facilities and operations.

“Until we can confirm the contact tracing, we just don’t want this to explode ahead of actually being able to pin it down,” Sharman said.

“It may be that we’ve already caught it, but we’d rather be preventative.”

All other residences at the University of Alberta are considered safe and at low risk of exposure.

Alberta reported 119 new COVID-19 infections on Friday, 102 on Saturday and 137 on Sunday. There are 1,459 active cases, with 51 in hospital and nine in intensive care.

There are also 19 schools in Alberta with two or more cases of COVID-19. Of those, two are on “watch” status with five or more cases.

And, in three schools — two in Edmonton and one in Peace River — it’s likely the virus spread from person to person within the building.

Hinshaw said it’s important to put worries about COVID-19 in schools into perspective. She said one school in 1,000 has had transmission in the past three weeks.

“We will continue to monitor closely as always, but this is a positive start.”

— By Lauren Krugel in Calgary

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 21, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Guy Pelletier, vice president of the Red Deer region for Melcor Developments. (Contributed photo).
Melcor has to redesign new neighbourhood after Molly Banister decision

City council disagreed with administration’s recommendation to scrap road plans

The Red Deer and District Community Foundation needs to sell more tickets to host a raffle that will benefit the Women and Girls Endowment Fund.
$135K in funding available in central Alberta for charities advancing gender equality

The Red Deer & District Community Foundation is providing $135,000 to local… Continue reading

Leslie and Rod Stewart won $100,000 on the Aug. 4 Lotto Max draw. The couple plans to travel when it is safe to do so. (Photo contributed)
Red Deer couple wins $100,000 lottery prize

LOTTO MAX ticket purchased in Valleyview

Alice Kolisnyk, deputy director of the Red Deer Food Bank, says the agency expects an increase in demand as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Every new subscription to the Red Deer Advocate includes a $50 donation to the food bank. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Support the food bank with a subscription to the Red Deer Advocate

The community’s most vulnerable members are always in need of a hand,… Continue reading

Sharon Hickin, general manager of the Days Inn Sylvan Lake and the new Lake House Diner, poses for a photo outside the new restaurant. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News
Pandemic puts extra hurdles in place for new Sylvan Lake businesses

Over the past seven months numerous new businesses have opened in Sylvan Lake, despite the pandemic

Email letters to editor@interior-news.com
The problem isn’t dispatching, it’s a shortage of ambulances

Having worked in EMS for more than 43 years, and having lobbied… Continue reading

file photo
Maskwacis RCMP investigate pedestrian fatality

Collision on Highway 2A causing fatality still under investigation.

March 14, 2019 - Head shot of Toronto Star columnist Heather Scoffield.    DAVE CHAN FOR THE TORONTO STAR
Opinion: Canada is missing a recovery plan

The glitches should have been a sign of what was to come.… Continue reading

A recent Lock it or Lose it campaign at Parkland Mall found only 35 per cent of drivers took action to make their vehicles less tempting to criminals. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)
Michael Dawe: Parkland Mall transformed region’s retail landscape

Fifty years ago, on Nov. 3, 1970, there was a major boost… Continue reading

Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 to win the baseball World Series in Game 6 Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Fitting finale: Dodgers win title, Turner tests positive

Turner returns to the diamond about an hour after the game

Most Read