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COVID-19 variant outbreak at Edmonton retirement home: Families say rules eased too early

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Family members of a senior living at an Edmonton retirement home are voicing concerns after it became the site of Alberta’s first outbreak involving a COVID-19 variant.

Alberta Health said Wednesday a case was identified at Churchill Manor on Friday. As of Thursday, 36 staff and residents have tested positive for COVID-19, Atria Retirement, the company that runs the home, said.

“Alberta Health Services visited the community to conduct rapid testing for all of our residents and staff,” Atria Retirement president Kristy Grange said Wednesday.

“Residents who have tested positive remain in their apartments, where they are in isolation and receiving care from Alberta Health Services nurses who wear full PPE.”

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Alberta’s chief medical officer of health said Wednesday that 19 of the cases tested positive for a variant.

“Local public health teams and the operator are taking this outbreak extremely seriously and working closely together to limit spread and protect everyone involved,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said.

The Churchill Manor Retirement Residence in southeast Edmonton on Thursday, March 4, 2021.

Global News

Churchill Manor is an independent living setting. As it is not licensed, the province does not oversee day-to-day management or compliance at the facility. However, given the outbreak, AHS is now involved to ensure residents and staff are protected.

“Local health officials are working closely with the facility and have confirmed that the enhanced variant outbreak protocols issued last week are being closely followed to prevent further spread,” a spokesperson for Alberta Health said Thursday.

Hinshaw said healthy residents of Churchill Manor received their first dose of vaccine on Monday as scheduled. While that would not have protected those already exposed, she did say it will help them build up their immunity more quickly.

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Alberta, Saskatchewan premiers support 4-month gap in administering 2nd COVID-19 vaccine dose

Alberta, Saskatchewan premiers support 4-month gap in administering 2nd COVID-19 vaccine dose

Jason Kenney spoke Thursday about variant outbreak at Churchill Manor, saying it unfolded just as residents were to be vaccinated.

“They should have been vaccinated weeks ago, like they were in similar settings in the United States, Israel, the U.K. and many, many other countries.”

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Hinshaw said Alberta health officials are making difficult decisions about vaccine prioritization and knows there are many populations who will greatly benefit from being immunized.

She urged caution, saying even after being vaccinated, Albertans must follow all the public health rules.

“We know the vaccine is rolling out right now to residents in these facilities,” she said. “We also know it takes two to three weeks after the first dose to be effective.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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