Eighteen people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the province to 74.
For the first time, there are confirmed cases in all zones in Alberta.
Two cases were noted in the province's North and South zones. Five individuals are receiving treatment in hospital. All others self-isolating at home and expected to make full recovery.
While a majority of COVID-19 cases are travel-related, one case in the Edmonton zone and one case in the Calgary zone were confirmed to be the result of community transmission.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta chief medical officer of health, gave an update on March 16 via video conference, with assistance from a sign-language interpreter.
Hinshaw is currently self-isolating after reporting mild symptoms of a cold. Though her symptoms are not consistent with COVID-19, Hinshaw said she was tested earlier in the day as a precaution.
Alberta Health said Hinshaw will still be performing all her duties as chief medical officer of health while in self-isolation.
"I felt well yesterday but woke up with a sore throat. Although my symptoms are mild, it is important to underline that no one is exempt from staying at home," she said.
"My symptoms do not appear consistent with what is typically seen with COVID-19, I do not have a cough or a fever. Despite this, as I have consistently said in these updates, if you are not feeling well, stay home and self-isolate ... This is what our new normal looks like."
Hinshaw detailed what her life has been like in self-isolation, following recommendations set by the province. She said she's been staying at home in a spare bedroom with ensuite bathroom, not eating meals with her family, and staying two metres away from others in the household.
"As I said yesterday, you do not need to wait for a lab result to do what's right. Stay home if you're sick."
There is an increased risk of community transmission in Alberta, though Hinshaw said it could not be quantified as low, medium or high.
Over the past two days, the province has announced new measures to slow the spread of the virus.
- Materials have been developed to assist travellers returning from outside Canada so they know what to do and how to self-isolate. These materials will be distributed at all airports in the province.
- The Provincial Court of Alberta and Court of Queen’s Bench are limiting operations. Visits to all Alberta provincial correctional facilities and young offender centres are suspended until further notice.
- Commercial carriers are essential to the supply chain and are not subject to the current 14-day self-isolation travel requirements. This is consistent with the air travel industry and other provinces, such as British Columbia.
- All Alberta Parks recreation facilities, programs, events and bookings are closed to the public and/or cancelled.
- Student attendance at schools is prohibited until further notice.
- Post-secondary classes continue to be cancelled. Campuses remain open at this time.
- All licensed child care facilities, out-of-school care programs and preschool programs are closed indefinitely.
- All long-term care and other continuing care facilities are advised to limit visitation to essential visitors only.
- Places of worship are no longer exempt from restrictions on mass gatherings.
Monday was the first day K-12 and post-secondary classes were cancelled. Licensed daycare facilities, out-of-school programs and preschools were also ordered to close immediately.
Approved day homes are exempt because they care for fewer than seven children at a time, including their own.
Hinshaw advises that although grandparents may help to care for kids, they should be isolated from children, especially those who are displaying any cold-like symptoms.
Parents should also take precaution and limit the number of playdates or large gatherings for their children, she said.
"We all have a role to play in the days ahead."
Hinshaw reported Canadian Blood Services is seeing a decline in blood donations, and assured Albertans it is safe to donate blood. To learn more, visit blood.ca.
"Blood donation can help address the feelings of helplessness in the face of COVID-19, giving a sense of control by helping others," Hinshaw said.
"We will get through this together."
As of Monday, there are 52 cases of COVID-19 in the Calgary zone, 18 cases in the Edmonton zone, two cases in Central zone, one case in the South zone, and one case in the North zone.
For the latest COVID-19 updates, check out our local coverage here.