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COVID outbreaks continue to surface in Medicine Hat

While Medicine Hat sewage data indicates an overall decline in local COVID-19 cases since mid-April, outbreaks of the virus continue to occur in the city.

The outbreaks were mainly registered in community accommodation. Five long-term care and supportive living centers in Medicine Hat have reported outbreaks since early May. That number dropped to two on Wednesday, with residents at the Masterpiece River Ridge and Meadowlands Retirement Residence continuing to test positive.

Larry Roberts, communications director for Revera — the company that monitors Meadowlands — confirmed the center’s outbreak began on March 31. A total of 20 residents were affected, 18 of whom have recovered.

The News contacted Masterpiece for comment but received no response.

A COVID-19 outbreak was also reported at Medicine Hat Regional Hospital on May 14. The outbreak was reported in an unnamed ward at the hospital, with two patients and one staff member testing positive. Alberta Health Services is investigating the cause of the outbreak.

“MHRH remains a safe place for visits and care,” AHS said in a statement to the news. “Any patient with symptoms or who has tested positive for COVID-19 will be isolated and treated in designated rooms… There will be no further operational disruptions at the site and all emergency services will remain open.”

A total of 16 patients are being treated at MHRH for COVID-19, including one patient in intensive care.

AHS continues to uphold all infection prevention and control standards at MHRH, including mandatory COVID-19 screenings for all hospital staff, use of personal protective equipment, and compliance with visitor health procedures.

The Medicine Hat Remand Center also reported a COVID19 outbreak that began May 2 and affected six inmates, but on Wednesday the South Zone health officer declared the outbreak over.

Although several of the outbreaks have been resolved and the number of local cases is estimated to have decreased over the past month, the continued occurrence of outbreaks demonstrates the ongoing nature of the pandemic, Medicine Hat physician and president of the Alberta Medical Association’s Division of Emergency Medicine, Paul Parks said.

“The COVID pandemic is not over yet,” Parks told the news. “There is still a risk of getting infected. And the risk of serious consequences is disproportionate among our elderly and immunocompromised Albertans.”

To slow the potential spread of the virus, parks and regional health officials are urging Albertans to continue to take precautions, such as staying indoors. E.g. washing their hands frequently and staying at home if they are not feeling well.

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