Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw updates media on the Covid-19 situation in Edmonton on Friday March 20, 2020. nbsp;Alberta is reporting it’s highest daily number of COVID-19 cases, with 364 new infections. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Voluntary restrictions in Edmonton area as COVID-19 case numbers keep climbing

Edmonton’s Misericordia Community Hospital announced its second outbreak Thursday

Alberta’s top doctor asked people in the Edmonton area Thursday to voluntarily abide by new health measures, as the province’s COVID-19 cases climbed to its highest daily number with the majority in the capital region.

Chief medical health officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported 364 new infections in Alberta, with 276 of those in the Edmonton zone.

The province previously reported a high of 336 cases on April 23. Case numbers had steadily declined but began rising recently, as they have is many areas across the country.

Hinshaw said there are currently 1,251 active cases in Edmonton — double that in Calgary.

Edmonton’s Misericordia Community Hospital announced its second outbreak Thursday, with 10 cases among patients and staff. It said 29 health-care workers are self-isolating as a result.

Hinshaw said there have been several other outbreaks linked to workplaces and social gatherings in the city.

“The Edmonton zone now faces a crucial juncture.,” Hinshaw told a news conference.

“It typically takes one to two weeks before a rise in cases contributes to a rise in hospitalizations.

“We must take action to slow the virus’s spread in the zone and make sure the health system can continue supporting Albertans.”

She announced three voluntarily public health measures for Edmonton-area residents.

She wants people to limit family gatherings and social events, including weddings and funerals, to 15 people.

She said they should wear masks indoors at work, unless they are alone in cubicles or offices or separated from others with barriers

And she wants them to limit their interactions to three cohorts: home, school and a social or sporting group.

Hinshaw emphasized that the restrictions are voluntary and a good idea for everyone in Alberta.

“I believe people will do their part to protect themselves and their family, friends and neighbours.”

Last month, when Alberta was reporting new daily cases of about 100 and more, Premier Jason Kenney said he had no plan to follow moves by other provinces in closing or constraining businesses again.

Mandatory restrictions put in place at the beginning of the pandemic in Canada in the spring were gradually eased in Alberta in June.

Hinshaw said the voluntary measures give Edmontonians an “opportunity” to bend the curve.

She suggested people start with changing any big Thanksgiving plans. The upcoming long weekend is not the time to gather in large groups, travel long distances or share food, she said.

“Keep your Thanksgiving small. Keep it safe.”

The Canadian Press

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