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'Stop holding social gatherings'; Premier Jason Kenney addresses province as case numbers rise

Last Updated Nov 6, 2020 at 6:44 pm MDT

On Friday, Jason Kenney addressed the province as the province saw an increase in cases over the last few days and weeks. Kenney asked those living in Calgary and Edmonton to stop holding social gatherings to curb the spread of the virus. (CREDIT: Government of Alberta)

Premier Jason Kenney is urging people in Edmonton and Calgary to stop holding gatherings at home

Alberta recorded 609 new cases of the virus Friday, following 802 positive tests reported on Thursday

EDMONTON (660 NEWS) — Premier Jason Kenney addressed Alberta on Friday in the daily COVID-19 update.

The Premier said starting immediately, people living in Calgary and Edmonton are being asked to stop holding social gatherings at home.

This comes as cases have seen a significant rise, with 609 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, and 802 on Thursday.

“These gatherings are the largest identified drivers of spread,” Kenney said. “Now is just not the time to hold parties or large extended family dinners.”

Kenney added that lockdowns will not achieve any of their goals in the fight against COVID-19 and questioned why people keep on suggesting them.

“Our goal is not to take COVID-19 to zero. Our goal is to keep the spread under control so it does not overwhelm the health care system,” he said. “We’re following data, we’re following evidence. People who are hounding us to shut down restaurants, why? Because they want us to, quote, do something? When our data indicates that 0.7 per cent of identifiable transmission has occurred in restaurants and similar businesses.”

WATCH: Premier asks Albertans to stop at home gatherings 

Kenney said lockdowns are a single-minded goal and it would be easy to put that policy in place, without consideration to broader economic and mental health of Albertans.

The Premier said that police won’t be going door to door to enforce anything, but he’s hoping Albertans will take his message seriously and work together to curb the spread of the virus.

“If we don’t take these kinds of simple measures and make these sorts of modest sacrifices to social life, the cases will continue to grow to a point where they may grow out of control and where the only options we have will be far more impactful on people’s lives and livelihoods.”

RELATED: ‘About 800 new cases’; Dr. Deena Hinshaw provides vague COVID-19 update

When asked why Kenney wouldn’t impose any sort of lockdown or restrictions, he said it would be a massive infringement of everyone’s fundamental rights.

Following Premier Kenney’s remarks, Dr. Deena Hinshaw took to the stand to provide more clarity on COVID-19 numbers over the last 48 hours.

On top of the 1,411 new cases in the last two days, eight new deaths have been recorded over the same time period, bringing the total death count in the province to 351.

Another concern with the recent case numbers is the amount of positive tests to tests taken, with just over five per cent of the 26,483 tests turning positive in the past 48 hours. This compares to the one or two per cent of positive tests taken in the spring and summer.

Meanwhile, 171 people are now in hospital, with 33 in the Intensive Care Unit.

A concern raised on Thursday by Dr. Hinshaw was the stress these numbers could put on the health care system, this message was echoed by the Premier Friday.

“The reality is that right now we are having to postpone and cancel non-essential surgeries which means anxiety, suffering, and perhaps declining health conditions for Albertans. It also means that we have to move more people out of acute care beds who are receiving medical treatments.”

Premier Kenney also talked about Alberta’s contact tracing app, asking everyone to download it, pushing away the idea of adopting the federal app.

As case numbers continue to see an upward trend, Premier Kenney says the province will be moving back to daily COVID-19 updates.