The Government of Alberta reports that the Banff/ID9 region currently has 5 active cases of COVID-19, and the Town of Banff has been notified of other cases that are expected to increase the total count today when the province updates its data.
With a small population, the Town of Banff expects this region will move to the “watch” status for COVID-19. This will occur if there are 10 or more active cases in the Banff region. If this occurs, Banff would be required to adopt the restrictions of 15 or fewer people for indoor and outdoor social and family gatherings.
In addition, areas with watch status are asked to voluntarily limit their contact to no more than 3 cohorts: your core household, your school, and one other sport/social cohort. Young children in child care can be part of 4 cohorts. The Government of Alberta stresses that work colleagues should not function as a cohort, but to adhere to physical distancing and safety measures within the workplace. It has been noted that the greatest risk of transmission occurs in indoor settings, and at social gatherings.
“This is a sobering reminder for everyone in Banff to follow all safety protocols and utilize the health measures that have worked so well for our community, especially as it relates to maintaining distancing and masks in social and work settings, and taking steps to be prepared for potential COVID cases in your networks,” said Silvio Adamo, Director of Emergency Management for the Town of Banff.
“Our thoughts and support are with individuals who – through no fault of their own – have contracted COVID and have been very responsible in isolating and notifying close contacts. Also, we want to thank the businesses we have been working with for their precautionary measures, strong rapid-response protocols when a positive case occurs, and the highest standards of safety to keep our residents and visitors safe.”
The Town is encouraging all individuals and employers to be aware of the need to track close contacts on a daily basis, and their responsibilities to notify people who have been in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19.
Changes in Alberta notification approach
With the significant increase in the number of positive COVID cases in Alberta, Alberta Health Services (AHS) has changed the system of notifying people who have been in close contact with an individual who tests positive.
AHS continues to notify close contacts if people are in a priority group, which includes health care workers, minors, or people who work or live in within communal facilities (which does not include staff accommodation at this time). For everyone else, an individual who tests positive is asked to notify all people with whom they have been in close contact. They are instructed to inform:
- anyone who was in close contact in the two days leading up to when they became sick (or two days before they had a COVID-19 swab taken if they didn’t have any symptoms) and
- anyone in close contact any days since they started experiencing symptoms or after they had a swab taken (if they didn’t have any symptoms).
What you need to know:
People should understand that a close contact is:
- anyone who was within two metres of a positive case of COVID-19 for more than 15 minutes, even if a mask was worn during that encounter
- a close contact is ALSO someone who has had direct contact with bodily fluids of a person who has COVID-19 (e.g., was coughed or sneezed on), or
- a person who provided direct care for a person who has COVID-19.
For sports that involve close, sustained or intermittent and repeated contact, all members of the teams playing each other are considered close contacts when there is a case on a team.
Anyone who falls into any of the above categories is considered a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19. For more information about close contact, please refer to updated AHS information at https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/topics/Page17199.aspx
If you are notified that you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, go home or stay home in quarantine, take the self-assessment to determine if you need to arrange to be tested, and notify your employer. Assessment and testing information is available at https://myhealth.alberta.ca/Journey/COVID-19/Pages/COVID-Self-Assessment.aspx
If you are notified that you have tested positive for COVID-19, AHS supplies a script for phoning or an email template to send notifications to people who have been in close contact in the 2 days leading up to when you became sick or 2 days before you had a swab – if you did not have symptoms, and up to current time. Make sure to understand who is considered a “close contact” and the relevant time period; don’t notify everyone you know, as this will cause unnecessary concern and can overload health services. The scripting, templates and definitions are provided at https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/topics/Page17199.aspx.
If you are an employer who has been notified that an employee has tested positive, you are asked to notify workplace close contacts of the employee to stay home or go home immediately, implement rapid-response cleaning and containment protocols, and communicate to all staff about the situation. The Town of Banff offers suggested scripting and templates for use in the notification process at banff.ca/COVIDbusiness.
To help our community stop the spread of the virus:
- download the ABTrace Together App. The technical issues have been resolved, no personal information is shared and it works. Visit https://www.alberta.ca/ab-trace-together.aspx for info and to download. (The province does not appear to plan to adopt the federal application at this time.) You can also use other methods such as notebooks to record your close contacts every day, so you are prepared in the event that you are tested positive.
- maintain a 2-metre distance from anyone not in your personal cohort or family
- frequently clean shared surfaces and wash or sanitize hands regularly
- wear masks in publicly accessible buildings, on Banff Avenue and Bear Street, and inside your place of work (except in closed offices or work stations with plexi-glass dividers)
- regularly self-assess for changes in your personal health condition. Individuals must not go into work and are legally required to self-isolate if they have core COVID symptoms listed at https://www.alberta.ca/covid-19-testing-in-alberta.aspx and arrange to testing.
“It is very important for workers in Banff to know that there is a federal support program to provide financial aid to people who must miss work. Stay home if you are sick. No one should worry about lost wages when your health, the health of your family, friends and colleagues could be at risk,” said Adamo.
The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) provides support for people who miss work due to illness or need to self-isolate.
“The people of Banff have done a great job of protecting our community. Now, more than ever, precautionary measures are needed and people and businesses should be ready to rapidly take measures to contain the spread. Please be ready, stay safe and take care.”