The provincial government has confirmed the AHS North Zone now has three confirmed COVID-19 cases. The North Zone includes Grande Prairie, as well as areas like Wood Buffalo, Athabasca, and Cold Lake.

The zone had its first case reported on Monday with two more announced on March 17th. Alberta has confirmed 23 additional cases since Monday, bringing the total number to 97. A total of 12,258 people have been tested for the virus so far in the province.

As announced by Premier Jason Kenney on Tuesday, Alberta has declared a State of Public Health Emergency. Public gatherings of more than 50 people have been banned, as well as public recreational facilities and private entertainment facilities

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says the aggressive steps aren’t being taken lightly, but are necessary to ‘flatten the curve’.

“The only means we have to stop the virus from spreading is to limit contact between people. The more we can slow the spread of the virus down the less likely it is to have a surge of cases that overwhelm are health systems capacity to care for those who need hospitalization or care.”

Alberta Health Services has also announced that all elective and scheduled surgeries have been postponed. Anyone affected by the rescheduled procedures is asked to wait for a call from AHS.

Dr. Hinshaw says frontline teams will be directed to other healthcare areas to ease pressure points.

“It is a necessary step to ensure the health system can sustain its pandemic response and be able to respond to emergencies.”

Hinshaw says all Albertans have a responsibility in stopping the spread of the virus by practicing basic hygiene, and social distancing.