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Fort Macleod urged to take COVID-19 seriously

Officials are imploring Fort Macleod residents and other Albertans to take the threat of COVID-19 seriously and do their part to stop the spread.

That means staying at home unless you work in an essential business, and washing your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds.

You should also avoid touching your face, cough or sneeze into your elbow or sleeve and dispose of tissues properly.

“I am reminding Canadians of all ages, do not underestimate the severity of this disease,” said Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy public health officer. “Every Canadian must follow the advice of public health and heed the dire warnings of other countries.”

As of Sunday there were 754 cases in Alberta, including 453 in the Calgary zone, 187 in Edmonton, 12 in the south, 51 in the central zone and 50 in the north. Nine people have died.

There is one case in Claresholm involving someone who returned from travelling and went into self-isolation immediately.

No cases have been reported in Fort Macleod but that should not create a false sense of security.

Dr. Njoo said Friday while the number of reported cases is up-to-date, at that very moment people are under investigation, awaiting laboratory tests, or not being tested at all.

“Even if you are not hearing of cases in your community, it does not mean there are no cases or that there are no exposures waiting to happen,” Dr. Njoo said during a news conference.

There are more than 842,320 COVID-19 cases reported around the world, and more than 7,772 cases in Canada.

Ninety people had died in Canada as of Tuesday from COVID-19 infection.

Dr. Njoo said people must self-isolate in order to protect the most vulnerable — people with underlying health conditions and the elderly — and to ensure health facilities are not overwhelmed.

Dr. Njoo urged people to comply with self-distancing, obey quarantine orders and protect and support the most vulnerable, following New Zealand’s concept of knowing, and staying inside your bubble.

Optimum protection comes when each person has a two-meter protective bubble. Depending on family or co-habitation situations, that bubble can include everyone in the household.

“Whatever your situation is, stay in your bubble,” Dr. Njoo said. “Please don’t step outside of it and don’t burst anyone else’s bubble.”

The Alberta government on Friday reduced the size of permitted gatherings to 15, from 50.

Restaurants can now only offer take-out and drive-through service, and close contact businesses such as hair and beauty care salons, barber shops, massage shops and tattoo parlours were closed.

Non-essential retail businesses including gift, jewelery, luggage, art and framing, clothing, computers and gaming, hobby and toy, photo music and books and sporting good stores are closed.

Automobile access is temporarily suspended at all provincial park and recreation area access points.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) postponed some diagnostic imaging procedures and stopped non-essential laboratory testing.

Non-critical health services including dentistry, physiotherapy, massage, podiatry, chiropractic and optometry services are also restricted.

“The actions we are taking are tough but necessary to protect public health,” Premier Jason Kenney said.

Any business or organization not following the public health order will be subject to a fine of up to $100,000.

Grocery stores, pharmacies, delivery services and other essential businesses continue to operate.

“We need to do everything we can to flatten the curve and keep people healthy,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health. “I strongly encourage all Albertans to stay close to home as we are all in this together. Our collective action will protect our family, friends and neighbours.”

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