The Alberta government is asking that all large gatherings or international events in the province be cancelled and advising Albertans against travelling outside of Canada.
The province is asking organizers to cancel any events that have more than 250 attendees. This includes large sporting competitions, conferences and community events. It does not extend to places of worship, grocery stores, airports or shopping centres.
“For a place like a movie theatre, or a theatre, if you have a large number of people, over 250 people, then that would meet that criteria,” chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday.
One local organization has already pushed back a big event in response to COVID-19. The Red Deer Regional Health Foundation postponed its Time of Life: 2020 Dinner, Show and Dance until Sept. 26 on Thursday.
The event was originally scheduled for March 28.
Schools and daycares can remain open, but steps should be taken to ensure that no more than 250 individuals are in the same room at any given time, the government says.
Closure of schools would disrupt the day-to-day routine for Alberta families, she said.
“With schools, we need to take a little more time to consider the impact those school closures would have and weigh that out against what potential public health benefits we might achieve,” Hinshaw said, adding the government is discussing school closures, but hasn’t made a decision yet.
Any event that has more than 50 attendees and expects to have international participants, or involves critical infrastructure staff, seniors or other high-risk populations, should also be cancelled, she said.
The government is also advising against travel outside the country given the rapid spread of the virus.
Four new cases of COVID-19 have now been confirmed in Alberta, bringing the total number in the province to 23, all travel related. One patient continues to recover in hospital, while all the others are in isolation at home.
One of the confirmed cases is a two-year-old child from the Calgary zone who is now recovering at home.
The child returned with family from a vacation in Florida and developed mild symptoms once in Alberta. The child attended a daycare from March 2 to 6 and tested positive on Wednesday.
The child is expected to make a full recovery.
The other three newly confirmed cases involve a woman in her 30s, a male in his 50s, and a woman in her 70s. They are all from the Calgary zone.
One person in the central zone tested positive for coronavirus Wednesday afternoon. That number remained the same Thursday.