Albertans should not flee to vacation properties during COVID-19 pandemic: Hinshaw
CALGARY -- Alberta's chief medical officer of health had a strong and simple message for residents of the province Monday: Now is the time to stay home.
With at least 65 of the 690 cases of COVID-19 the province believed to be the result of community transmission, Dr. Deena Hinshaw urged Albertans to not stray far from their primary residences.
"This is also not the time for people to go out to their summer cottages or seasonal villages to self-isolate," she said at the daily provincial COVID-19 briefing in Edmonton.
Hinshaw emphasized that supports and services in smaller communities are limited, and people looking to escape urban settings overwhelm an already overwhelming situation.
"If they are leaving from a place (with community transmission) like Edmonton or Calgary and going somewhere up north, the risk that they may inadvertently be incubating the virus and take it with them and infect a small community," Hinshaw said. "The consequences would be catastrophic."
Beyond the threat to the health of these smaller centres, Hinshaw said a sudden population surge could put a considerable strain in infrastructure in place normally designed to just serve residents who typically live in the area.
"The best thing we can do is stay close to home," Hinshaw said.
Don't stray from property
Hinshaw also announced Albertans on mandatory self-isolation are no longer allowed to leave their properties, due to a consensus reached by the national special advisory committee on the COVID-19 reponse. The committee is comprised of Hinshaw and her counterparts across the country.
The rule was already in place under the Federal Quarantine Act, but some provinces, such as Alberta, previously allowed people on mandatory self-isolation to leave their homes for short walks if they were feeling well.
Now, everyone across the country on mandatory isolation must stay on their property for the entire duration of their quarantine.
"If you are under mandatory self-isolation, you can no longer go for walks in your neighbourhood or at the park until your period of self-isolation ends," she said.
People are allowed to venture outdoors only in their yards, decks or balconies. People who live in apartment buildings or highrises are not allowed to leave their units and must avoid elevators and stairwells.
"I know this is incredibly difficult," Hinshaw said. "Staying indoors or close to home for 14 days is a very long time, but this is what we must do to protect each other."
There were five deaths linked to COVID-19 announced in the province Monday, bringing Albert's total to eight.
Alberta has recorded 690 cases of the virus, with 94 people recovering.