AHS: Hutterite colony cases pose ‘little risk’ to general public

Contact tracing and testing are underway of anyone who may be at risk

  • Jul. 31, 2020 10:15 a.m.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) is investigating a number of COVID-19 cases on Hutterite colonies within the province.

There is minimal risk to the general public, noted a statement.

READ MORE: Stigmatizing Hutterites about COVID-19 will harm response: public health officer

“We are working closely with the Hutterian Safety Council and individual colony leadership to support COVID-19 contact tracing and further reduce the impact of COVID-19 on the colonies.

“The few colonies with individual cases in Alberta are working closely with AHS and Alberta Health. Health officials are in close contact with all those impacted to limit spread and protect the public health. We want to thank these colonies for their ongoing cooperation and efforts to stem the spread of the virus.”

Contact tracing and testing are underway of anyone who may be at risk.

“We are not releasing specifics about locations in order to maintain patient confidentiality, nor are we releasing detailed breakdowns of cases by particular religious groups or communities. The individual communities are free to comment further as they see fit.”

AHS implements 14-day quarantine measures on Hutterite Colonies that have a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19.

“This is a standard practice with individuals who have been in contact with a positive case of COVID-19, just on a larger scale given the communal living within colonies.

“AHS Public Health is coordinating with colonies to ensure there is training and education around COVID-19 preventative measures, quarantining criteria, as well as options for testing.

“These are difficult times for everyone – in our province and around the world. Nobody is to blame and it is more important than ever to be kind and supportive of one another. It is understandable that people have concerns and fear as we deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. But we should not allow those fears to harm others in any way.

“We must all work together and support each other every day until this worldwide health issue is no longer a threat.”

Meanwhile, with 12 confirmed active cases in Stettler County, the Government of Alberta announced that the County and region has reached ‘Watch Status’ and has turned blue on the COVID-19 Interactive Map.

There is also now COVID-19 testing in Stettler at the Stettler Community Health Centre – watch for signs on Hwy. 12 for access.

Times are from 9:30 a.m. – 12:00 noon and 1 – 3:00 p.m. Monday to Friday through to July 31st.

To book your test: Anyone can access the testing at the site by:

1. Calling 811 (there may be a long wait time)

2. Completing an online self-assessment and self booking:

https://myhealth.alberta.ca/Journey/COVID-19/Pages/COVID-Self-Assessment.aspx

3. If you are not able to complete one of the above options, come to the front door of the hospital and get a referral from the screening personnel. Then proceed to the Community Health Centre to be swabbed.

If you are being swabbed, do not eat or drink for one hour prior to your appointment.

The Stettler Regional Emergency Management Agency (SREMA) would like to remind our communities and citizens to remain vigilant in physical distancing (two meters), and with personal hygiene and sanitization practices at home, at work and while you are out in the community.

In the meantime, also according to AHS, the Stettler and Hospital and Care Centre continues to provide a variety of care services to the community, and remains prepared to care for COVID-19 patients who may require hospitalization.

“We understand people may feel anxious to visit the emergency department and want to remind residents that our hospital and emergency department, and services provided, remain a safe place to come and to receive care – there is no increased risk to patients coming to hospital,” noted the statement.

AHS healthcare facilities follow rigorous infection prevention and control standards.

All healthcare workers are asked to self-assess for COVID-19 symptoms and exposure risk using a screening tool before reporting to a site for their shift, and our frontline teams are practicing continuous masking while at work.

Any patient with symptoms, or who has tested positive for COVID-19, is isolated away from other patients. And, stringent visitor restrictions are in place, minimizing any risk of transmission from outside of the hospital. If someone thinks they have a serious or life-threatening injury or illness, they should go straight to an emergency department or call 911 immediately.

“We’d also like to remind residents that all Albertans are eligible for COVID-19 testing, whether experiencing symptoms, or not. Expanded testing is an important part of the effort to contain COVID-19 in our province.”

Testing, which is done via a throat swab, will tell you whether you had COVID-19 at the time your swab was taken, even if you were not showing symptoms at that time. Testing will not tell you whether you have previously had COVID-19. It will also not tell you whether you have any immunity to COVID-19.

Again, offered by appointment and free-of-charge, testing is easily booked online at www.ahs.ca/covid. If Internet is not available, you can call 811, and 811 staff will book a test appointment for you.

-Submitted by Alberta Health Services

Coronavirus

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