The immediate cancellation of Alberta K to 12 and post-secondary classes are among the new aggressive additional public health measures being implemented provincewide to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenny says the emergency management committee of cabinet met earlier today and has accepted the recommendations of Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health.
Also, licensed child care facilities, out-of-school care programs, and preschool programs are closed indefinitely.
Because of the small number of children they care for, approved day homes are exempt, but are being encouraged to use to sanitary practices and guidelines released late last week.
While schools will remain open, student attendance is prohibited.
"We're still in the early stages, and the number of cases will rise," said Kenney in a news conference late Sunday afternoon.
The number of confirmed cases has risen by 17 in the last 24 hours; three in the Edmonton area, and 14 in the Calgary area. That brings the total number of confirmed cases to 56 in Alberta.
"We believe we have reached an inflection point in the progression of this pandemic in Alberta," he says.
At least two cases identified in the last two days appear to have been acquired through community transmission from an unknown source, and seven cases occurred as a result of a single gathering in the Calgary zone.
Kenney said Albertans should be canceling all nonessential international travel. He says there are no guarantee travellers will be able to return to Canada, and if they do will be quarantined for 14 days.
As part of today's tougher measures, places of worship are no longer exempt from restrictions on mass gatherings.
Any event that has more than 50 attendees and expects to have international participants, or involves critical infrastructure staff, seniors, or other high-risk populations, should also be cancelled.
Events that do not meet these criteria can proceed at this time, but risk mitigation must be in place, such as enforcing distancing of one to two metres between attendees and using sanitizer stations.
Only essential visits to any continuing care or long-term care facility in Alberta are recommended:
- Individuals over 60 years of age and those with pre-existing health conditions are most at risk of severe symptoms from COVID-19.
- Families and friends of those in these facilities are asked to think of other ways besides visiting that they can support and encourage their loved ones through this difficult time.
More to follow.