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23 new cases COVID-19 in Alberta

Last Updated Mar 17, 2020 at 4:18 pm MDT

In this illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). This virus was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. (CDC via AP, File)

EDMONTON – Alberta has confirmed 23 new cases of COVID-19, the rapidly-spreading coronavirus.

The total number of cases in the province now sits at 97. Five people with the virus are in hospital, two in intensive care.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, says they expect more cases to pop up as Canadians abroad return home and enter self-isolation.

Hinshaw says it was her recommendation to the province to declare a public health emergency as Alberta fights “a war on two fronts” in the rising number of both travel-related cases and community spread cases.

So far, there are approximately six community-spread cases of COVID-19 but there are other cases under investigation.

Hinshaw says there will likely be more information on community-spread cases on Wednesday.

With Tuesday’s declaration of a public health emergency, Hinshaw added Alberta Health Services is postponing all elective or non-urgent surgeries, but it will continue with emergency ones. Hinshaw says Alberta Health will contact affected patients.

More coming.