Alberta reports two more deaths from COVID-19 and 120 new cases

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Alberta reported two more deaths from COVID-19 and 120 new illnesses Thursday, a surge that brought the provincial total of active cases to 807.In the province, 69 people were treated in hospitals, including eight in intensive care beds.

It was the first time since May 1 that the province reported more than 100 new cases.

Despite the increase in the number of active cases, the province announced Thursday that it will ease restrictions on visits to nursing homes and continuing care homes.

Effective July 23, Alberta will transition from restricted access to a “secure access approach” for visitors to these facilities.

“This pandemic has been very, very difficult for residents of continuing care facilities,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said on Thursday at a press conference.

“Last month, I heard from thousands of residents, family members, facility operators and staff about the effects of these restrictions and how to safely relieve some of them. “

New rules to meet emotional needs

The new visiting guidelines, Hinshaw said, will help residents stay connected socially and emotionally while balancing their emotional needs with the need to protect those most at risk from serious consequences.

Since the pandemic began in March, 119 of the 165 deaths in Alberta have been residents of long-term care facilities.

“Protecting residents from COVID-19 required severe visitation restrictions, which helped limit and prevent outbreaks, but also wreaked havoc on those living in these facilities,” said Hinshaw.

“There are no risk-free options with COVID-19. This virus is still there, and the residents of these establishments remain particularly vulnerable. At the same time, we must also take into account the health and well-being of these residents and the risks of isolation caused by strict and universally applied restrictions on visitors.

“These residents need hope, joy and connection, like all of us. ”

Under the Restricted Access Policy, in effect for months, residents were allowed to have a designated family or support person to spend time with them indoors, and only when their needs could not be met satisfied by the staff. All other visits had to be outside.

Under the new policy, each resident will be allowed to designate two support people who can visit indoors, as long and as often as they wish, said Hinshaw.

Depending on the health of a resident, outdoor visits will also be allowed with a maximum of four people. In certain circumstances, when it is safe, these other visitors may also be allowed to visit indoors, if a facility has a designated interior visiting space.

“Causing great distress”

“We have heard clearly from residents and family that [the previous] the restrictions caused great distress and, in some cases, profound deterioration in the health of residents who were depressed, isolated and lonely, “said Hinshaw.

A key element of the new visitor policy will require that each establishment develop a local visitor policy based on consultations with residents, families and staff, she said.

“Although the baseline for the number of authorized visitors is somewhat open for all facilities, we also anticipate that some facilities may be less restrictive if their residents collectively agree to accept more risk.

“As part of the new approach, we also explicitly recognize that family and friends are part of the care team for people living in collective care facilities, not just social visitors whose time with residents is discretionary. ”

The regional distribution of active cases on Thursday was as follows:

  • Calgary area: 362
  • Zone d’Edmonton: 217
  • South zone: 90
  • Central zone: 75
  • North zone: 55
  • Unknown: eight

Also on Thursday, the CBC confirmed that an outbreak at Misericordia Community Hospital in west Edmonton continues to grow, a week after the facility closed its doors to new patients.

As of Thursday morning, a total of 52 cases were linked to the outbreak, with 17 new cases identified since July 8.

Seventeen patients are currently being treated in hospital for this disease. Eight patients who have tested positive have since been discharged, Alberta Health Services confirmed in an email to CBC News.

Some of these people have been fired after fully recovering, AHS said. Others were fired and sent home, where they were asked to self-isolate for 14 days, or 10 days after the onset of symptoms.

A total of 19 employees were also tested positive.

The Misericordia epidemic is now spreading beyond the walls of the hospital.

According to AHS, two people linked to the epidemic were neither patients nor staff but “tested positive in the community”.

Six people died, a total that has remained unchanged since last week.

By July 8 – the day the hospital declared a complete epidemic and stopped admitting new patients – 15 staff members and 20 patients tested positive.

Cases have increased steadily since the outbreak was declared on June 20.

The 312-bed hospital generally has more than 1,100 employees and doctors on weekdays and more than 550 on weekends.

The hospital remains under what is called a “complete closure of the epidemic” and all departments, including the emergency department, have been closed to new patients.

People in need of care are advised to go to one of the other Edmonton area hospitals instead, or call 911 if necessary.

Visitors were limited only to end-of-life situations.

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