Albertans need to prepare themselves for smaller Christmas celebrations, top doctor says

·4 min read
Albertans need to prepare themselves for smaller Christmas celebrations, top doctor says

Albertans must begin preparing themselves for a non-traditional Christmas with smaller gatherings, says the province's chief medical officer of health.

"With the calendar flipping to December today, I know many people across the province are starting to plan for the holiday season," Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Tuesday at a news conference. "It's been a long, hard year, and I know how important these holidays are to Albertans. But in a year that is anything but typical, how we celebrate won't be typical either."

The province reported 10 more COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday and 1,307 new cases of the illness.

The total number of active cases was 16,628, an increase of 174 from the day before.

"We don't yet know exactly what restrictions will be in place during the last week of December," Hinshaw said. "Cabinet will make those decisions later on this month.

'Celebrate safely'

Previous holidays have already led to increases in cases and outbreaks, she said, using Thanksgiving gatherings as an example of accelerated spread.

"Right now, I am encouraging Albertans to begin preparing for a much different holiday season, and to start thinking of creative ways to celebrate safely," Hinshaw said.

"This is not going to be the year for in-person office parties. This is not going to be the year for open houses or large dinners with friends and extended family. If you are making holiday plans, it is best to assume that you will still be limiting contact with anyone outside your household as much as possible, and that any large get-togethers will likely need to be virtual.

"This will be the year for getting together remotely, or having small outdoor activities where everyone can keep their distance. Celebrating virtually, or with members of your own household, pose the lowest risk for spread."

WATCH l Dr. Hinshaw says Albertans should prepare to gather remotely during the holidays

Hinshaw said the options people might have for the upcoming holidays will depend on what everyone does in the coming days.

"The actions we take now and over the coming weeks will determine how the virus is spreading when the holidays arrive," she said. "We all have the power to collectively bend the curve, and it will take all of us to do so."

Here is the regional breakdown of the province's active cases:

  • Edmonton zone with 7,552 cases.

  • Calgary zone with 6,162 cases.

  • Central zone with 1,249 cases.

  • North zone with 895 cases.

  • South zone with 672 cases.

  • Unknown 98 cases.

The turning of the calendar brought to a close the worst month of the pandemic in Alberta, so far.

On Nov. 1, there were 6,002 active cases of COVID-19 in the province.

By end of day on Nov. 30, the total was 2.7 times higher, with 16,628 cases.

On Nov. 1, the province added 610 new cases.

On Nov. 30, that number was 2.14 times higher, with 1,307 new cases added.

On Nov. 1, Alberta hospitals were treating 143 patients for the illness, including 28 in intensive-care beds.

Since that, hospitalizations have more than tripled. On Nov. 30, a total of 479 patients were in hospital, including 97 in ICU beds.

By Nov. 1, 327 people in Alberta had died from COVID-19. By Nov. 30, another 224 lives had been added to the toll, bringing the total to 551.

The 10 people whose deaths were reported on Tuesday were:

  • Two men in their 90s and one in his 80s linked to the outbreak at the Edmonton Chinatown Care Centre.

  • A man in his 90s linked to the outbreak at St. Thomas Health Centre in the Edmonton zone.

  • A woman in her 70s linked to the outbreak at Kainai Continuing Care Centre in the South zone.

  • A man in his 90s linked to the outbreak at Capital Care Lynnwood in the Edmonton zone.

  • A woman in her 70s linked to the outbreak at the Grey Nuns Community Hospital in the Edmonton zone.

  • Two men their 70s linked to the outbreak at Clifton Manor in the Calgary zone.

  • A woman in her 80s in the Edmonton zone.