Three new COVID-19 outbreaks identified in Calgary as city awaits decision to relaunch

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Three other COVID-19 outbreaks have been identified in Calgary as the city awaits a decision from the province as to whether it will be safe for it to join the rest of Alberta to reopen restaurants and lounges.

Alberta Health publicly releases outbreak data twice a week when five or more cases of COVID-19 are identified in a company.

This week, three new outbreaks were reported in the Calgary area:

  • Eight cases at Golden Happiness Bakery in southeast Calgary.
  • Eight cases at Thomas Fresh, a fruit and vegetable supplier in southeast Calgary.
  • Five cases at the Subaru dealership on Meridian Road.

Alberta Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) said that in the case of the Subaru outbreak, officials have responded to several complaints regarding precautions to take with COVID-19 on the job site and have ordered the dealer to develop a plan to maintain physical distance.

Alberta health officials said the Golden Happiness Bakery has closed voluntarily and will be re-inspected before it reopens.

There are now 16 outbreaks in businesses in the Calgary area and 17 outbreaks in retirement homes.

Craig Jenne, associate professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the University of Calgary, said that while the new outbreaks are not surprising, health officials will be watching them closely.

“We know the virus is still in the community. When a person is infected, there is usually a small group around them, “said Jenne.

“Right now the numbers seem positive in Calgary. They remain low, but we do not see them drop to near zero as we have done in other health regions. So whether it’s small outbreaks or people who are starting to ease social distance, we see a sustained spread of the virus here. ”

Calgary and Brooks have seen the vast majority of COVID-19 cases in Alberta, so the province has put cities on a slower schedule than the rest of Alberta to reopen their economies as there is a continuing threat of infection . In Brooks, a single outbreak at the JBS meat processing plant increased to cause the majority of the city’s cases.

A decision on whether cities can go ahead and allow the reopening of sand barbershops, with protections in place and reduced capacity, is expected on Friday.

The risk remains

Jenne said if these small outbreaks develop or overwhelm the province’s contact tracing system, then there is cause for concern. And that will be largely related to how people follow the restrictions that are in place, he said.

“I think the people who take pleasure in the recommendations and the restrictions are probably the biggest threat to the reopening of Calgary, because if people do not follow the guidelines, we cannot reduce this number of cases”, a- he declared.

“I think these little epidemics are a very clear reminder that, although the viral numbers are going in the right direction and declining overall, the virus is still in our community and if it is not controlled, if people choose to come together in large groups and not maintaining a physical distance, there is always the risk of another hotspot or home. ”

While only 19 new people tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, daily tests in the province have recently declined.

As of Wednesday, 2,114 people were tested, up slightly from 2,046 the previous day, but down from 2,928 on Monday.

Jenne also said that it can be difficult to interpret what certain test numbers mean, because even if the city is now open to asymptomatic tests, it is not a random sample of the population because people volunteer to be tested.

“These are important points to consider when we do our modeling and try to predict how the virus will continue to move in the community. “

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