Alberta facing three more COVID-19 cases, officials say

CALGARY—Alberta has three new cases of COVID-19, as numbers continue to climb in Canada.

Alberta now has seven cases in total, while British Columbia has 27, and Ontario has 34.

Officials announced the latest Alberta cases in a Monday morning statement. More details were to be provided later in the day.

All of the province’s previous cases have been travel related. The first was announced Thursday, a Calgary woman returning from the Grand Princess cruise ship. The second case, an Edmonton man, was announced the next day. As of Sunday, the province had one confirmed case and three presumptive cases.

Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Friday that 44 Albertans were aboard the same cruise ship before returning to Alberta on Feb. 21. Health officials are reaching out to those people.

On Sunday, the Canadian government announced it has plans to bring home the Canadians still aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship, which is quarantined off the West Coast of the United States after a COVID-19 outbreak aboard the vessel. The passengers will be quarantined for 14 days in Ontario before being allowed to return home.

The spread of COVID-19 has raised concerns that the Alberta government will no longer be able to balance its budget — on Friday, Premier Jason Kenney said the virus is affecting the Alberta economy.

“If there is a major, prolonged global downturn, that would obviously affect our plan to get to balance in (two years),” he said.

Initiatives are underway in Ontario and Quebec to ease the pressure the virus has put on hospitals, by creating screening clinics where patients can be isolated, assessed and tested for COVID-19.

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau created a committee to help prepare Canada to deal with COVID-19.

The rise of COVID-19 cases in Canada has prompted many to stock up on household necessities such as toilet paper, as well as face masks and hand sanitizer in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus. It will likely be at least a year until a vaccine for the virus is developed, according to health officials.

Though the virus isn’t deadly to everyone, with a mortality rate of more than double the regular flu, as of Monday more than 3,800 people had died worldwide.

With files from The Canadian Press and Margaryta Ignatenko

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