Another person has died of COVID-19 within the M.D. of Bonnyville, bringing the death toll for the community to nine, as listed on the province’s virus data map.
Alberta Health spokesperson Tom McMillan said a female in her 80s linked to the outbreak at Bonnyville Extendicare was one of seven deaths reported provincially on Wednesday.
This is the sixth death linked to the outbreak at the long-term care home after one over the long weekend.
According to the province’s geospatial COVID-19 map, only seven new cases were reported across the Lakeland region in the last 24 hours, three in Cold Lake and four in St. Paul.
Provincially, there were 277 new cases reported in the past 24 hours and seven deaths. There are 370 people in the hospital including 60 in the intensive care unit. The positivity rate for the province has fallen to 3.9 per cent from 5 per cent.
During her COVID-19 update on Feb. 17, Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw stressed the importance of working with the province’s contact tracers to continue to drive active case numbers down across the province.
“Recently, we have seen a small but significant increase in the number of people who aren’t participating with the contact tracing process,” said Hinshaw.
She said from the beginning of the pandemic until December less than one per cent of confirmed cases did not answer the phone or return calls from contact tracers.
“Since then we’ve seen a concerning rise in those we can’t get a hold of, 1.9 per cent of all cases in January, and 1.3 per cent so far in February. In addition to this there has also been an increase in those who were initially willing to speak to contact tracers, but then later unwilling to provide the necessary information needed for us to follow up with contacts,” said Hinshaw.
She said she understands it is tempting to think that by not providing the information COVID-19 will go away, but “trying to ignore COVID and not participating with contact tracing only pushes back the day we can ease restrictions further by giving the virus the opportunity to spread farther and faster, without being stopped.”
Hinshaw said contact tracing remains one of the best ways to reduce transmission and encouraged people to minimize any shame or blame related to contact tracing in order to make the system as effective as possible.