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Additional two deaths, 57 cases of COVID-19 in Alberta

Last Updated May 6, 2020 at 6:42 am MDT

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – In her daily Alberta COVID-19 update Tuesday, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw confirmed an additional 57 cases and two deaths in the province.

That brings the total number of cases to 5,893 and the total of deaths to 106.

However, on a brighter note, over half of the cases have been reported to have recovered, with 3,219 now healthy.

Hinshaw said there are still 622 cases of COVID-19 within continuing care facilities and that these cases must be taken seriously.

“Continuing care facilities remain a priority and we will continue to closely monitor all active outbreaks. We will take additional actions as necessary to protect the health and wellbeing of the residents and staff working in these settings.”

Hinshaw also announced that AHS has taken over care at Millrise Seniors Village in Calgary’s south-west.

Challenges in staffing and concerns over the implementation of outbreak protocols lead to the change.

READ MORE: AHS takes over Millrise Seniors Village following staffing issues

Regarding the existing outbreaks, Hinshaw said of the 949 cases at the Cargill plant near High River, 810 have recovered.

There are a confirmed 487 cases at the JBS plant in Brooks, and 36 cases have been identified at the Harmony meatpacking plant in Rocky View County.

READ MORE: COVID-19 outbreak declared at Harmony meat plant, north of Calgary

Hinshaw said, in Harmony’s case, around one-third of the cases were found by testing workers not displaying any symptoms of the virus.

During the update, Minister of Health Tyler Shandro announced $4.5 million will be invested toward new technology and equipment to double the number of tests able to be done.

The Calgary Health Trust donated $1.7 million of the total to now allow more than 16,000 tests to be conducted daily.

“This is going to ease the strain on the Edmonton and Calgary labs while getting fast results for communities across Alberta,” said Shandro.

Hinshaw echoed that this will help prevent further spread of the virus.

“Aggressive, widespread testing is a cornerstone in our strategy to flatten the curve.”

In addition, Shandro announced the signing of two orders.

The first allows the disclosure of test results to police in cases where a person has coughed, sneezed, or spat at an officer and then claimed to be infected by the virus.

The information would only be provided in such cases.

The second allows the expansion of health care practitioners to assist in contact tracing.

The order would allow for chiropractors, paramedics, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, pharmacists and dental hygienists to receive training in order to assist.

Lastly, Hinshaw reinforced the importance of monitoring your own mental health and the mental health of your loved ones.

She said before the pandemic, one in five Albertans would experience a mental health or addiction issue in their lifetime.

“As a result of this pandemic, all Albertans may be feeling increased fear, anxiety, or sadness.”

Hinshaw said international and Canadian surveys show about half of the respondents reported having moderate to severe anxiety and a further 20 per cent report cases of depression.

Hinshaw said that asking for help is an important step, but can often be the most difficult one.

“I challenge all of us today to try to connect proactively with our loved ones and ask how they are feeling instead of waiting for them to reach out.”

For those struggling with their mental health, Hinshaw encouraged them to contact the Mental Health Help Line at 1-877-303-2642.