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Alberta announces seven new coronavirus cases, bringing total to 14


EDMONTON — Alberta's chief medical officer is urging people to check health advisories before travelling abroad as the number of novel coronavirus cases in the province doubled to 14.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw says all the cases are travel related.

She says the risk of travelling outside the country is increasing and those planning trips outside Canada should check the latest recommendations from the Public Health Agency of Canada.

She says anyone returning to Canada should monitor their health for two weeks and self-isolate if they have symptoms of coronavirus, such as a cough or a fever.

The number of cases in Alberta is expected to rise, Hinshaw says, although the risk of catching the virus remains low.

The new cases include four people from the Calgary region and three people from the Edmonton area.

The men and women range in age from their 30s to 70s.

One of the original seven patients, who had a pre-existing health condition, is in hospital in stable condition.

The new patients visited a range of countries, including France, the Netherlands, Germany, the Philippines and the United States. One was also on the MS Braemar of Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines in the Caribbean.

Hinshaw said preventative work continues, with new information and cautionary materials being readied for schools and long-term care centres.

Anyone feeling ill, even if they have not travelled abroad, should avoid going to schools or long-term care centres or supportive living facilities, she said.

"We need to get used to a new normal," Hinshaw told a news conference Tuesday.

"We all need to be vigilant and take additional precautions to limit the risk for others."

Also Tuesday, the Opposition NDP urged the United Conservative government to introduce new protections for Alberta workers who are forced to self-isolate and miss work due to the coronavirus.

Labour critic Christina Gray said stronger job protection legislation and compensation would ensure that sick Albertans don't feel compelled to go to work for fear of losing their jobs.

She's asking the province to prohibit employers from requiring a doctor's note.

"What do most Albertans do when they have the sniffles? They tough it out and they go to work," said Gray.

"We cannot have that happen while we're asking people to self-isolate and prevent the spread of a serious virus, one that can be fatal."

Alberta's labour ministry said it is working to find solutions surrounding quarantine and sick leave and is urging employees and employers to find alternate working arrangements for those who are self-isolating, such as working from home.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 10, 2020.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

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