One COVID-19 case in Red Deer confirmed

A COVID-19 case has been confirmed in the city of Red Deer.

According to the map on the website, there is one case of the virus in southwest Red Deer.

Alberta declared 22 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday afternoon, which brings the provincial total to 119: three cases in the central zone, two in the south zone, 83 cases in the Calgary zone, 27 cases in the Edmonton zone and four cases in the north zone.

Six patients are hospitalized and three are in the intensive care unit, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health, said Wednesday.

Six of the 119 cases are through community transmission.

Alberta Health spokesperson Tom McMillan previously said the government was not sharing the exact location of cases to protect patient confidentiality.

But that has changed.

“We determined the map, given the volume of cases, as well as online – we’re not linking it to other information such as gender or age range – was enough to preserve anonymity, while still giving Albertans the information that they seem to be asking for at this time,” explained McMillan.

Hinshaw said AHS will further restrict visitors to hospitals and care centres to protect patients and the most vulnerable. All visitors will have to be symptom free – including fever, cough and rash.

Children, who don’t usually show symptoms of COVID-19, will also be restricted from visiting.

The Alberta government is providing immediate financial assistance to Albertans affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Premier Jason Kenney announced emergency isolation support of $50 million Wednesday.

Kenney said the money equals $573 for each person who meets the criteria for self-isolation, and is meant to be a bridge equivalent to an employment insurance payment until new federal aid begins April 1.

“Some people in isolation may be receiving payment from employers. There might be people receiving AISH or EI, but this is for people who fall between the cracks,” said Kenney.

“This is immediate cash for people who may be choosing between self-isolation and working, and we want them to choose self-isolation if they need to.”

The government will also implement a six-month, interest-free moratorium on Alberta student loan payments.

Kenney said residents will also be able to defer their electricity and natural gas bills for the next three months.

As well, customers of the Crown-owned ATB Financial can apply for deferrals of their loans, lines of credit and mortgages for up to six months.

Kenney said experts advise him the virus is set to peak in the next four to five weeks in the province, and hopefully starts to decline after that.

“But still pose a very real threat to public health well into May and into June,” said Kenney.

“Beyond that, unless and until a vaccine is developed, it will continue to pose a global threat, and most projections I see for a vaccine are for potentially available to people in 2021,” said Kenney, citing the collapse in energy prices as another hurdle for the province.

Hinshaw said the province is testing more than any jurisdiction (per capita) in North America, with close to 15,000 tests.

“That’s one test for every 290 Albertans,” she said.

She said 811 Health Link has been busy and she understands that’s frustrating for Albertans. She advised people to self-isolate whether or not they can get through to 811.

“Even without talking to Health Link, even without a test, they can continue to self-isolate.”

With files from The Canadian Press

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