RMWB's active COVID-19 cases hits 62; Hinshaw urges Albertans to get flu shots as cases jump

·2 min read

Dr. Deena Hinshaw urged Albertans to take COVID-19 seriously as flu season approaches.

During the past four influenza seasons, the peak number of flu deaths recorded in a full year was 92. Last winter, 8,500 Albertans tested positive for the flu while 41 people died. In the past eight months, 338 Albertans have died from COVID-19.

“This is not to minimize the impact of influenza or the importance of getting your flu shot, which I am strongly recommending,” she said. “We cannot treat this virus as something that our health system can easily absorb or something that will simply depart when spring arrives.”

Nearly 600,000 Albertans have received a flu shot. Last year, more than 1.4 million Albertans received a flu shot, good for 33 per cent of the population. It was Alberta’s highest inoculation rate since 2009, when the province began offering free vaccinations.

Hinshaw said most of Alberta’s COVID-19 transmissions have been within households. She reminded those who have tested positive to isolate themselves in the house in a separate room from others and to use a separate bedroom and bathroom, if possible.

When you can’t isolate yourself, wear a mask and disinfect common surfaces and don’t eat meals with other family members.

“Hope is not lost,” said Hinshaw. “We are in this together and we are powerful together.”

An investigation by the Edmonton Journal has also found schools have not acted as COVID-19 super-spreaders among students.

In an interview last week, Hinshaw said Alberta Health Services contact tracers have found six per cent of the positive COVID-19 cases among children aged five to 19 can be traced to school.

“Our school protocols actually seem to be working really well,” she said.

While spread is not happening in classrooms, COVID-19 cases among students have mirrored patterns seen in adult.

Children between the ages of five to nine had far fewer cases during the spring, when they generally stayed home and had less reason to get tested for minor symptoms. But then cases began rising even before school reopened, following adult trends.

For youth between 10 and 19, rates were also low in the spring but outpaced the rest of the population in September. Last week, this age group saw close to 15 new cases a day per 100,000 youth. That compares to about 11 new cases per day in the adult population, and is roughly three times the peak of five cases per day for youth last spring.

-with files from Jason Herring and Elise Stolte

Sarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today