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Updated: COVID-19 outbreaks at three Alberta schools

"There is no evidence of transmission within the school in any of these outbreaks," says Hinshaw
Dr. Deena Hinshaw is Alberta's chief medical officer. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Alberta's chief medical officer of health says COVID-19 outbreaks at three schools consist of two infected people in each school with no evidence of broader transmission.

"While we are calling these outbreaks, this is a very cautious use of the term," Dr. Deena Hinshaw told a news conference Thursday.

"We are acting out of an abundance of caution by treating two cases who are in a school while infectious within a 14-day span as an outbreak, even when the cases are within one family.

"There is no evidence of transmission within the school in any of these outbreaks."

Hinshaw said the cases are at Henry Wise Wood high school and St. Wilfrid elementary school, both in Calgary, and at Chinook High School in Lethbridge, about 200 kilometres southeast of Calgary.

Alberta Health Services said in a statement it's "working directly with the schools to limit risk of spread." That includes assessing the classrooms and identifying close contacts of the people who have COVID-19.

"Any individual considered exposed to these cases will be contacted directly by Alberta Health Services, per standard contact tracing procedures," the statement added.

AHS said infection prevention control measures — physical distancing, masking, hand hygiene and environmental cleaning — have been reviewed with the schools.

Hinshaw said overall, officials have confirmed 24 cases at 21 schools in the province. 

Support Our Students Alberta, a non-partisan, non-profit public education advocacy group, has put the number at 36, according to its online COVID-19 tracker.

Hinshaw has said the numbers the Alberta government is releasing are based on whether an individual with COVID-19 was infectious when they were in a school.

The province has launched a new online map listing every school where there have been two or more cases within a 14-day period and where the disease could have spread in the school.

Hinshaw announced 113 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, with 43 people hospitalized and seven of them in intensive care. Alberta has 1,494 active cases and five additional deaths.

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

— By Dean Bennett and Colette Derworiz in Edmonton

The Canadian Press