Update 6: COVID-19 pandemic in Alberta (March 19 at 5 p.m.)
March 19, 2020 Media inquiries
One Albertan has died as a result of the virus, the first COVID-19 related death in the province. Aggressive public health measures continue to help limit the spread of COVID-19.
- 27 additional cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Alberta, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 146.
- Cases have been identified in all zones across the province:
- 101 cases in the Calgary zone
- 29 cases in the Edmonton zone
- 10 cases in the North zone
- Three cases in the Central zone
- Three cases in the South zone
- Of these cases, five are currently hospitalized, two admitted to intensive care units (ICU), and one patient has died.
- The individual was a male in his 60’s who had been admitted to ICU in the Edmonton zone on March 12 and had pre-existing conditions. This is the first confirmed COVID-19 related death in the province.
- Aggregate data, showing cases by age range and zone, as well as by local geographical areas, is available online at alberta.ca/covid19statistics. This site had 1,276 visits in its first 24 hours.
- Pharmacists have been working hard to help Albertans assess and screen for COVID-19. A new billing code has been created for this service.
- To ensure Albertans continue to have access to essential medications and to help pharmacists address situations where some individuals are attempting to stockpile medication, we are recommending pharmacies have the discretion to provide a maximum 30-day supply of prescription drugs.
- Some Albertans may need to refill their prescriptions more frequently than usual. They should speak with their pharmacist for advice on when it is appropriate to fill their prescriptions.
- To assist with the added associated costs, those with Alberta government-sponsored Coverage for Seniors and Non-Group Coverage will pay a lower copayment of up to $8 per prescription for a 30-day supply. The current copayment is up to $25 per prescription. Albertans with other coverage should consult with their benefits provider.
- Currently, there is no strong evidence to indicate ibuprofen could make COVID-19 symptoms worse beyond the usual known side-effects that limit the use of ibuprofen in certain populations. Albertans should consult with a doctor about what is best for them.
- Albertans can now meet with Alberta-licensed physicians through their smartphone, thanks to an initiative by TELUS Health. Find more information and download the app here.
- Social distancing measures continue to be an important way to minimize the spread of COVID-19. A tip sheet is available to help Albertans understand ways to minimize close contact with others in community settings.
- Mass gathering limitations and restrictions around public recreation and private entertainment facilities remain in place across the province.
Emergency isolation support
$50 million is being made available for Albertans who must self-isolate and do not have another source of pay or compensation while they are self-isolated.
A one-time payment of $1,146 will be distributed to bridge the gap until the federal emergency payments begin in April.
Applications for emergency isolation support will be available on Alberta.ca next week.
Student loans and apprenticeship training
Government will implement a six-month, interest-free moratorium on student loan payments for all individuals who are in the process of repaying these loans.
The March-April and May-June intakes for apprenticeship training are cancelled.
Apprenticeship students who started classroom instruction on or after March 2 should discuss tuition refund options with institutions, and will receive priority for fall intake. Apprenticeship students who started classroom instruction before March 2 will be advised by their institution about next steps for distance learning options, assessments and completion.
Information for travellers
Travel outside the country is strongly discouraged. Given the rapid global spread of the virus, it is no longer possible to assess health risks for the duration of the trip.
Any traveller returning from outside of the country should self-isolate for 14 days, even if they are feeling well, and monitor for symptoms.
Any traveller who has returned before March 12 should closely monitor themselves for symptoms. If they experience symptoms, they should self-isolate immediately and call Health Link 811 for follow-up assessment and testing.
The Alberta government and Travel Alberta have launched a campaign to inform Canadians travelling in the United States and Mexico about the importance of returning home.
COVID-19 related information has been provided for departing and returning passengers at the international airports in both Edmonton and Calgary. This information has also been shared with all airports in Alberta and several airlines.
- The most important measures that Albertans can take to prevent respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, is to practise good hygiene.
- This includes cleaning your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds, avoiding touching your face, coughing or sneezing into your elbow or sleeve, disposing of tissues appropriately, and staying home and away from others if you are sick.
- Anyone who has health concerns or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should complete an online COVID-19 self-assessment.
- For recommendations on protecting yourself and your community, visit alberta.ca/COVID19.