Seventy-seven more active cases of COVID-19 were reported in Alberta on Tuesday.
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, released the latest statistics that show 26 active cases in the central region, with two people in hospital.
Red Deer now has nine active viral cases. Lacombe County continues to have four. One case each was reported in Red Deer County, Stettler County and Mountain View County.
Clearwater County and Ponoka County have zero cases.
But residents of smaller communities without many — or any — COVID-19 cases should not become complacent, cautioned Hinshaw.
Although the bulk of Alberta’s viral cases continue to be in Calgary (which has 306 active cases) and Edmonton (with 547), Hinshaw stressed this week that the coronavirus does not discriminate between rural or urban spaces and “spreads rapidly if given a chance.”
While Hinshaw did not provide specifics, she said some smaller communities have developed a high number of cases in proportion to their populations.
“I don’t mean to be alarmist, but COVID-19 is not limited to any one region,” she added.
The virus can spread when people from larger cities visit family members and friends in smaller communities, or when rural residents travel into larger centres for shopping, to sell goods or for other reasons.
She appealed to all Albertans to arrange gatherings outdoors whenever possible, and to observe social distancing and hand-washing measures.
Hinshaw also encouraged mask wearing, and stressed to stay home and get tested when feeling unwell, or even “under the weather.”
Many viral outbreaks have been linked to family gatherings, and Hinshaw admitted it’s easy to drop your guard with relatives, “but the most caring thing you can do is to remain vigilant.”
Many cases have also resulted from larger gatherings of younger Albertans. She also advised them to socialize with a limited cohort of friends once a week, and not to party with different groups of people, as it makes contact tracing extremely difficult.
Children who are returning to school should consider limiting their contact with grandparents this fall, added Hinshaw. She noted that online conversations aren’t as fulfilling, but are the safe thing to do.