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Alberta reports second presumptive case of new coronavirus; man from Edmonton


EDMONTON — The Alberta government says it is now dealing with a second presumptive case of the novel coronavirus and is ramping up testing protocols.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health, announced Friday a new presumptive case of the virus — a man in his 40s in the Edmonton area who had recently travelled on business to Michigan, Illinois and Ohio.  

She said the man returned to Alberta on Feb. 28 and is currently isolated at his home. Officials are still gathering information on what the man has been doing and who has seen since getting back a week ago.

"Public health will be following up with all close contacts," said Hinshaw. She said the man was travelling with another person who is now showing coronavirus symptoms and is self-isolating.

Presumptive cases are ones that have been detected in Alberta's lab but not confirmed in Canada’s national lab in Winnipeg. 

On Thursday Hinshaw announced the first presumptive case in the province — a woman in her 50s from Calgary.

The woman appeared to have contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, while on board a Grand Princess cruise ship that is being held for testing off the coast of California.

The woman returned to Alberta on Feb. 21 and isolated herself at her home in the Calgary region on Feb. 28.

The woman is off work, self-isolating at home and is expected to make a full recovery.

"It appears she did not attend any large social or public gatherings before entering isolation, so this may have limited the potential of spread," said Hinshaw.

The woman works at ATB Financial, Alberta's Crown-owned bank. ATB has temporarily closed two Calgary branches as a precaution.

In light of the situation, Hinshaw announced new testing measures.

She said they are immediately asking anyone who has travelled outside Canada to monitor their symptoms when they return to Alberta.

"If they experience influenza related symptoms — such as a fever or cough — within 14 days of their return, they are asked to self-isolate immediately and call Health Link at 811 to arrange for follow-up testing," said Hinshaw.

Returning travellers are asked not to go to hospitals and emergency centres but to arrange to have tests done at specific sites now being set up or have the test done at home.

There will also be testing of some community influenza samples starting Saturday to ensure no other cases are in the province.

"The risk of getting sick from COVID-19 remains low at this time in Alberta," said Hinshaw.

"However, with these recent developments we are anticipating this risk may increase in the weeks to come."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 6, 2020.


Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

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