Lead Medical Officer of Health urges calm, caution over COVID-19 case spike

(The Public Health Centre on 99 St in Grande Prairie) Sydney Reid
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Despite a dozen cases of COVID-19 being reported in Grande Prairie over the last few weeks, the Lead Medical Officer of Health Alberta Health Services’ North Zone says there isn’t a reason to panic. Dr. Albert de Villiers says the first thing that people have to remember is the data is ever-changing, and there will be ups and downs when it comes to active cases.

He adds that, based on contact tracing, it doesn’t appear these new cases are largely due to community spread.

“[Most of] the cases we are currently dealing with are all part of what we call ‘clusters’, so one person in a family gets it, and spreads it to their close contacts in their household, and potentially to close friends as well,” he explains.

“When we get a positive case, then immediately a [Communicable Disease Control] nurse calls them, checks with them about their contacts, where they’ve been, what’s been done, did they work, did they stay home.”

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De Villiers says the majority of the tests so far have come back negative, but if a positive result comes up, they would continue the process with each case as they arise. Anyone who tests positive is also legally required to isolate for 10 days from the start of symptoms, or until symptoms resolve, whichever takes longer.

People are also legally required to isolate for a minimum of 10 days if they have a cough, fever, shortness of breath, runny nose, or sore throat that is not related to a pre-existing illness or health condition. If they tested negative and have known exposure to COVID-19, they are legally required to isolate for 14 days.

De Villiers says regardless of the number of active cases of COVID-19 in Grande Prairie, residents must remain cognizant of all health and safety measures. He says precautionary measures remain the most important tool in the fight against COVID-19.

“It’s the same message we’ve always preached for the last how many years? Stay home when you’re sick, cover your cough, but I’m going to go further than that and say if you do have a cough, and you can at all help it, stay home. Please make sure you get tested and make sure you get diagnosed because whatever you’ve got, it makes sure you don’t spread it.”

As of June 4, 2020 had 12 active and six recovered cases of COVID-19.

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