Alberta now screening patients who visit province's COVID-19 hotspots
If you live in or have recently visited Fort McMurray or Banff and you need to go to the hospital, AHS staff are trained to take extra precautions. (File)
CALGARY -- Alberta Health Services tells CTV News they have adopted a practice where they inquire about the recent travel history of patients being admitted to hospital, and add that Banff and Fort McMurray are on that list.
Officials say because of the rise in COVID-19 cases in Alberta, particularly in a number of provincial hotspots, a "temporary COVID-19 risk factor" has been developed when staff are screening patients during the admission process.
"(It) requires additional infection, prevention and control measures be taken when an individual who resides in or has returned from an area with a high prevalence of COVID-19 in the previous 14 days, seeks hospital care," AHS told CTV News via email.
Both Banff, with an active case rate of 654 per 100,000, and Fort McMurray, which has an active case rate of 1,577 per 100,000, are on the "hotspot" list.
When patients connected to those regions are admitted, AHS says staff are told to employ specific measures.
"These precautions include additional steps related to patient interaction, use of personal protective equipment, environmental services, handling of equipment and patient care items as well as additional precautions when moving or transferring a patient throughout the hospital."
On Friday, the Town of Banff issued a statement to potential visitors to the mountain community, asking them to consider postponing non-essential trips for the time being.
Residents are also asked to consider staying close to home unless absolutely necessary and visitors are prohibited from staying with any residents.
There are no formal restrictions on travel through the community at this time.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, also pleaded with Albertans this week to avoid going anywhere outside their home communities for non-essential reasons.