Alberta health officials are reporting more than 300 new COVID-19 cases in the province over the weekend, with a rise in the Edmonton area. Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw updates media on the Covid-19 situation in Edmonton, Friday, March 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Alberta health officials are reporting more than 300 new COVID-19 cases in the province over the weekend, with a rise in the Edmonton area. Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw updates media on the Covid-19 situation in Edmonton, Friday, March 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

At least 30 COVID-19 cases linked to religious activities in Alberta: top doctor

Fifteen cases in Alberta were from a separate religious gathering in the hamlet of Deadwood

Recent religious activities are responsible for two COVID-19 outbreaks, Alberta’s top doctor says, including one in the province’s capital where the number of people testing positive has been rising steadily.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of heath, said Tuesday that 15 cases are tied to services at the Bible Pentecostal Church in north Edmonton between July 26 and Aug. 12.

She advised anyone who has been at the church during that time, or anyone close to those who have, to get tested.

“It is a stark reminder that coming together in large gatherings risks sharing more than fellowship, it risks sharing the COVID-19 virus,” Hinshaw said.

“It is critical to not stigmatize those who test positive or those who have come in close contact, as we do not want to discourage people from being tested.”

Another 15 cases in Alberta were from a separate religious gathering in the hamlet of Deadwood in the northwestern part of the province, Hinshaw said.

The event, called It Is Time Canada, took place between July 30 and Aug. 2.

Health officials in northern British Columbia issued an alert Monday linking 17 cases of their own to the same event. Twelve cases were due to attendance and five were believed to be from secondary exposures. Another 24 people identified as “close contacts” are in self-isolation.

Most of the cases are in the Fort St. John, B.C., area.

Hinshaw said it is likely that more cases will be identified in both provinces.

“An estimated 200 to 300 people attended over the course of the three-day gather,” she said. “We are working with B.C. Health to ensure that contract tracing is completed for all those who had attended.”

The organizer, evangelist Chris Lindberg, said in a video posted on social media that he was one of those diagnosed with COVID-19.

Alberta Health reported Tuesday that the Edmonton zone has the highest number of active cases in the province with 636, well over double than any other area.

The city of Edmonton itself had 572 active cases, and the entire city is under a COVID-19 watch. A watch is triggered when an area of the province has more than 50 active cases per 100,000 population.

Indoor social gatherings seem to be where a lot of the Edmonton transmission is happening, Hinshaw added.

“I think we had a provincewide wake-up call a few weeks ago, when we were seeing high daily totals across the province. But this may be an Edmonton-specific wake-up call,” Hinshaw said.

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson said he was disappointed about the high numbers and was trying to get more details to help protect those at risk.

In total, there are 1,169 active cases in Alberta, with 89 new ones reported Tuesday. There was one new death, bringing that total to 225 since the pandemic began in March.

The province also announced Tuesday that Shoppers Drug Mart and its parent company, Loblaw, will offer testing in Alberta communities.

All 234 Alberta-based Superstore, Wholesale Club, Extra Foods, No Frills, Independent and Loblaws City Market stores will offer testing to asymptomatic people over the next two weeks.

Hinshaw said it increases testing capacity by about 3,000 to 4,000 tests per day.

“That would serve half or more of Alberta’s teachers and school staff,” she said. “We will need this added capacity, plus that of all community pharmacists who are already testing for COVID-19, if we are to test these 90,000 teachers and school staff in just a few weeks.”

In central Alberta, a pork-processing plant sent more than a dozen employees home after a worker tested positive for the virus last week.

The employee at the Olymel facility in Red Deer, Alta., was sent home and told to get tested after showing symptoms of COVID-19 on Aug. 11, a company spokesman said.

Richard Vigneault said the positive test result came in two days later and 13 other employees who were at risk of exposure were sent home for testing.

Vigneault said the company expects test results in the coming days and the plant will remain open in the meantime.

The Canadian Press

AlbertaCoronavirusReligion

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta's chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says Albertans need to keep making safe choices to start bending the curve back down. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
One new COVID-19 death in Red Deer, 257 additional cases province-wide

Red Deer sits at 459 active cases of the virus

(Black Press file photo)
Blackfalds continuing its fight for a registries office

The Town of Blackfalds has been fighting for a Registry Service outlet for roughly a decade

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said Thursday that the province may consider a regional approach to loosening COVID-19 restrictions if numbers continue to decline. (photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Province further easing health restrictions

Numbers of people hospitalized and in intensive care has dropped dramatically, says premier

Eric Rajah, co-founder of A Better World. (Photo Submitted)
Two Lacombe residents recieve award from Governor General for chairty work

Eric Rajah and Brian Leavitt co-founded A Better World, a charity which started in Lacombe in 1990

A ” Justice for Jeff” T-shirt. (Photo submitted)
Rally to be held outside courthouse for man slain in Lacombe

Sentencing for accused charged with manslaughter with a firearm set for March 4 in Red Deer

A health-care worker looks at a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Palais de Congress site as Quebec begins mass vaccinations based on age across the province, Monday, March 1, 2021 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Nearly 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses arriving in Canada this week: Anand

Anita Anand says she’s received assurances from the vaccine manufacturer

Samantha Sharpe, 25, was stabbed to death at Sunchild First Nation on Dec. 12, 2018. Chelsey Lagrelle was sentenced to 4.5 years in prison for manslaughter in a Red Deer courtroom on Tuesday. Photo contributed
Central Alberta woman sentenced to 4 1/2 years for stabbing friend to death in 2018

Chelsey Lagrelle earlier pleaded guilty to stabbing Samantha Sharpe during argument

Calgary police say they received 80 hate crime complaints between January and November 2020. (Pixabay)
‘Racism is a real problem:’ Muslim women fearful following attacks in Edmonton

So far in 2021, three of seven hate-crime-related investigations have involved Somali-Muslim women

Alberta Minister of Health Tyler Shandro speaks during a news conference in Calgary on May 29, 2020. Shandro says Alberta is considering whether to extend the time between COVID-19 vaccine shots to four months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alberta may follow B.C.’s lead on faster rollout of first COVID-19 dose

Tyler Shandro says a committee of COVID-19 experts is analyzing emerging data and a decision is coming

A locally-produced video project aims to preserve Canada’s railway history

‘Railways have been an integral part of Canadian history since 1836’

Ryan Jake Applegarth of Ponoka, 28, is scheduled to appear at Ponoka Provincial Court on March 12, 2021. (File photo)
Discussions about justice continue as Ponoka murder victim’s case proceeds

Reaction to comments Ponoka Staff Sgt. Chris Smiley made to town council last month

Dr. Stanley Read
Hometown Bashaw doctor recognized with alumni award for AIDS work

Dr. Stanley Read, born and raised in Bashaw, is considered a global health leader

A copy of the book “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” by Dr. Seuss, rests in a chair, Monday, March 1, 2021, in Walpole, Mass. Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the business that preserves and protects the author and illustrator’s legacy, announced on his birthday, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, that it would cease publication of several children’s titles including “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” and “If I Ran the Zoo,” because of insensitive and racist imagery. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
6 Dr. Seuss books won’t be published for racist images

Books affected include McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super! and The Cat’s Quizzer

AstraZeneca’s vaccine ready for use at the vaccination centre in Apolda, Germany, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael Reichel/dpa via AP
National panel advises against using Oxford-AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine on seniors

NACI panel said vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are preferred for seniors ‘due to suggested superior efficacy’

Most Read