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Alberta premier asks ministers for ‘full assessment’ of E. coli outbreak in Calgary

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith says she’s asked her health minister, as well as her children and family services minister, to “do a full assessment” of an E. coli outbreak linked to Calgary daycares.

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith says she’s asked her health minister, as well as her children and family services minister, to “do a full assessment” of an E. coli outbreak linked to Calgary daycares.

Alberta Health Services says in a statement that as of Sunday, there were a total of 190 lab-confirmed cases connected to the outbreak which was declared nearly a week ago.

That’s up from 140 on Friday.

It says there are currently 27 patients receiving care in hospital, and that 20 patients have been confirmed as having severe illness.

Smith says in a social media post that she’s asked for the assessment of the outbreak “to ensure steps are taken to prevent this from happening in the future.”

She says she’s sending her thoughts and prayers to all the children who’ve contracted E. coli in the recent outbreak.

“My heart also goes out to the families of these little ones. Thank you to all the frontline workers who’ve been working tirelessly to treat and care for these children,” Smith’s post on Sunday stated.

AHS said the 20 patients with severe illness are “stable and receiving appropriate care in hospital.”

Additionally, it said seven patients have been discharged from hospital since the beginning of the outbreak.

Health Minister Adriana LaGrange also posted on social media, expressing gratitude to frontline staff at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, the Peter Lougheed Centre and South Health Campus. She said each location now has a dedicated clinic to monitor symptomatic patients.

She said anyone who is concerned and starts to see symptoms in themselves or their children should call Alberta’s health services hotline at 811.

Dr. Francesco Rizzuti, medical officer of health in Calgary, said Friday that a “small number” of the hospitalized patients were receiving dialysis.

AHS said 11 facilities have been issued closure orders.

Investigators with the health agency believe that based on the epidemiology of the cases they’ve seen, it’s “highly likely” food from a central kitchen is the source of the outbreak.

“At this point, AHS has not been able to identify a food item that was the source. We continue to investigate,” AHS said Sunday.

Sunday’s statement from AHS said four of the 11 facilities have not had anyone who has tested positive for E. coli, including Fueling Brains Bridgeland, Little Oak Early Education, Almond Branch, and Braineer Academy.

Closure orders for those four daycares were being rescinded effective Monday, AHS said, provided no one from those sites tests positive for E. coli in the meantime.

AHS said public health inspectors have ensured the four facilities have taken appropriate measures, such as cleaning and disinfection.

Closure orders for the remaining seven facilities will be rescinded Tuesday, it said, adding that young children and staff will require clearance from health officials.

AHS said the central kitchen that provides food services for these daycares, meanwhile, remains closed.

Dr. Stephen Freedman, an emergency physician at Alberta Children’s Hospital, said last week that it’s not a typical strain that causes two or three days of watery diarrhea, vomiting or abdominal cramps.

Instead, he said it’s a type of E. coli 0157, which secretes a toxin that can lead to organ damage.

The Opposition NDP chided Smith and her United Conservative government on Saturday for taking so long to issue statements about the outbreak.

Diana Batten, Alberta NDP critic for childcare and children and family services, noted in a statement on Saturday that government had said nothing to that point about additional resources for the daycares. Nor, she said, had it offered anything to reassure families “making stressful decisions about whether to send their children back to the impacted sites.”