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COVID-19 outbreak declared at Canmore General Hospital acute care unit

"While our cases and hospitalizations are trending down, we still have work to do," said Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw on Monday (Feb. 1). "We have reached a place where we should be able to further ease measures on Feb. 8, but we have seen cases fall and rise before."
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A sign on the doors to the Canmore General Hospital notifies visitors of prescreening for COVID-19 before they can enter the hospital on Saturday (March 21). EVAN BUHLER RMO PHOTO⁠

CANMORE – Alberta Health Services (AHS) has declared an outbreak in the acute care unit of the Canmore General Hospital. 

AHS spokesperson Kerry Williamson confirmed in an email to the Outlook that the outbreak was declared on Jan. 27. A request for an interview was not granted.

"One patient linked to this unit tested positive for COVID-19," Williamson wrote. "No other patients and no staff connected with the unit have tested positive for COVID-19.

"Contact tracing work in relation to this case is ongoing."

Signs have been posted at the hospital to inform patients and visitors of the outbreak. Enhanced cleaning is also occurring, according to Williamson, along with screening staff twice per shift for symptoms. 

"Admissions continue, as do all services at the hospital," Williamson wrote. "The Canmore General Hospital remains a safe place to receive care." 

Visitors to the acute care unit, however, are currently restricted to designated support persons and end-of-life situations. 

"We encourage families to continue to meet virtually with their loved ones," Williamson wrote. "Restrictions are in place to minimize any risk of transmission to and from outside of the hospital." 

According to Alberta Health's website, outbreaks in acute care units are declared when there are two or more cases, indicating transmission within a facility has occurred. An outbreak is declared over when four weeks have past since the last case was identified. 

Williamson said even though there is only one case connected to the outbreak in acute care in Canmore, the person appears to have caught COVID-19 while in the hospital. An outbreak was declared as a result. 

There are currently four other acute care outbreaks in the Calgary zone, according to the outbreak list. The list of outbreaks in the region includes Origin at Spring Creek supportive living facility, Baker Creek Mountain Resort near Lake Louise, and the Nakiska Ski Lodge. 

As of Tuesday (Feb. 2), there were 6,912 confirmed active cases of the virus in Alberta, 556 people in hospital and 97 in intensive care units. There have been 1,649 Albertans that have died as a result of COVID-19.

According to the geospatial map on the provincial government's website, there were 34 active cases in Banff and Lake Louise, 10 in Canmore and 62 in the MD of Bighorn, which includes parts of the Stoney Nakoda First Nation like the community of Morley.  

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said hospitalizations are continuing to decline. 

"The steady decline we are seeing is encouraging," Hinshaw said on Monday. "And a testament of the ongoing hard work of so many.

"Sadly, I must announce that 10 new deaths were reported to Alberta Health in the last 24 hours. My sympathies go out to anyone who has lost a loved one recently, whether to COVID-19 or any other cause. 

"While our cases and hospitalizations are trending down, we still have work to do. We have reached a place where we should be able to further ease measures on Feb. 8, but we have seen cases fall and rise before."

Hinshaw called on Albertans to remain extra vigilant to keep schools, hospitals and long-term care facilities safe. 

Some of the public health measures for gyms, fitness studios, restaurants, cafés and pubs are expected to be relaxed on Monday (Feb. 8) as a result of the reduction in hospitalizations. 

Public health officials remain concerned about two new variants of the virus from the U.K. and South Africa that have been detected in 51 people so far. 

So far, AHS and Alberta Health have not provided confirmation of where the variants have been detected in Alberta, but Hinshaw said they are working on creating a reporting process for the website that would provide more information on these cases. 

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