Alberta reports 1st presumptive case of COVID-19

Alberta has reported its first presumptive case of COVID-19, the provincial government said Thursday afternoon.

The patient is a woman in her 50s who lives in the Calgary zone, an area that includes Calgary, Nanton, Canmore and Claresholm. She is currently in isolation at home, according to Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health. 

She had been on board the Grand Princess cruise ship — before it was quarantined off the coast of California — and returned to Alberta on Feb. 21, but did not self-isolate until Feb. 28, Hinshaw said Thursday in a news conference at the Alberta Legislature.

"We are taking this extremely seriously," Hinshaw said. "Public health measures are already being put in place to prevent the spread of the virus."

The woman tested positive for the coronavirus at a provincial lab, Hinshaw said. Cases are considered presumptive until confirmed by a second test by the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg. 

Hinshaw said while the woman was being tested, they notified individuals who had been in contact with her after she returned from the cruise. 

"The work happening tonight is to follow up with those close contacts to inform them that now we are dealing with a presumptive case," she said, adding that those individuals will be asked to stay home even if they are feeling well. 

Hinshaw added that woman is "expected to make a full recovery".

Anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should contact Health Link 811 for follow-up testing. 

As of Thursday, 34 cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed in Canada, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada — 20 in Ontario, 13 in British Columbia and one in Quebec.

The Alberta government is asking anyone who has returned from a Grand Princess cruise in the last two weeks to self-isolate until 14 days have passed since their visit.

Hinshaw confirmed there were other Albertans on the ship who have returned, but it's not clear how many. She said the province is working with the federal government to request a list of everyone that was on the ship.

"I want to remind Albertans that despite this case, the risk of catching the virus is still considered low in our province. We have been preparing for this since the virus first emerged in January," Hinshaw said.

Alberta Health Services