Alberta reports province’s 1st COVID-19 death, officials working on plan to enforce new rules

A man in his 60s from the Edmonton zone has become Alberta’s first fatal COVID-19 case, the province’s chief medical officer of health said Thursday.

The man had underlying health conditions, Dr. Deena Hinshaw said at a news conference to update Albertans on the spread of the novel coronavirus in the province. She added that the man’s case does not appear to be travel-related and it’s believed he acquired the illness in the community.

Hinshaw said the province’s number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has jumped by 27 since the day before, and on Thursday stood at 146.

Hinshaw also answered questions about a curling bonspiel in Edmonton last weekend that saw doctors from across Western Canada take part. She confirmed a doctor from Saskatchewan who attended the event has tested positive for COVID-19. She said it’s believed the presence of COVID-19 at the bonspiel may be related to a Canadian doctor recently having returned from a trip to Las Vegas.

She said there were 72 curlers at the bonspiel and that the event was followed by a banquet where 45 people attended. However, Hinshaw said that as of this point, none of the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alberta have been positively linked to the event.

The bonspiel happened at the Granite Club in Old Strathcona, Global News has confirmed.

A health official who joined Hinshaw at the news conference acknowledged that Alberta health officials had received a tip about someone attending the Pacific Dental Conference in Vancouver earlier this month who later refused to self-isolate, even though several COVID-19 cases have been linked to the event.

He said officials received the tip on March 16 and were finally able to make contact with the person accused of not self-isolating on Thursday. They said he is now in isolation.

Hinshaw said she and other health officials are currently working with Alberta Justice to come up with ways of enforcing new self-isolation and capacity-related orders going forward.

She stressed Albertans should not call 811 or 911 to report people who are not following the measures but said she hopes to have a method for people to report tips soon.

Alberta is the fourth province in Canada to have recorded a death linked to COVID-19.

More to come…

–With a file from The Canadian Press

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