Closure orders for six more daycares in the Calgary area have been issued by Alberta Health Services (AHS) after children who attend the facilities tested positive for E. coli.
In a statement sent just before midnight on Friday, Alberta Health — the government department that sets policy, legislation and standards for the health system in Alberta — said some of the newly infected children are connected to daycares from the original outbreak, but it does not yet know exactly how they were infected.
In an update sent Saturday by AHS, six newly impacted daycares were ordered to partially close:
- Active Start Country Hills: Dolphin and Starfish preschool classes
- CanCare Childcare, Scenic Acres location: Busy Bees, Bumble Bees and Butterflies classrooms
- CEFA Early Learning Calgary South: JK 3-1 classroom
- Renert Junior Kindergarten: all four Junior K classrooms
- Vik Academy. This site was part of the original closures. Classrooms 3 and 4 are again closed as a precaution pending testing results.
AHS said that while MTC Daycare is not being closed, affected children and staff in Prominade and McKenzie classrooms will be excluded from attending all child-care facilities until they test negative for E. coli and remain symptom-free.
Calgary JCC Childcare was issued a closure order for its infant and toddler rooms on Friday.
Alberta Health is asking parents to only send their child to another facility if they have tested negative for E. coli and have no symptoms.
“What appears to have happened is that some parents who were at the affected facility moved their children over to other daycares,” Premier Danielle Smith said Saturday morning on her weekly radio phone-in show.
“What I’m really hopeful is that [the daycare centres] can do the same thing: get clean, get sanitized, get cleared so that they can start accepting kids very quickly.”
As of Saturday, there are 342 lab-confirmed cases connected to the outbreak, including 23 resulting from secondary transmission.
While case numbers continue to increase as additional test results come back from the lab, the number of patients in hospital is falling, AHS said.
There are currently 12 patients receiving care in hospital. Ten have been confirmed as having severe illness or hemolytic uremic syndrome, including six on dialysis.
An Alberta Health spokesperson told CBC News on Saturday morning that it is likely the infections are due to secondary transmissions, but an investigation is still ongoing.
“It is crucial for parents who have children who attend these daycares to follow the guidance being given to them by health-care professionals,” Dr. Mark Joffe, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said in the Alberta Health statement.
None of the facilities are connected to the central kitchen shared by the original 11 daycares where the outbreak is believed to have occurred.
“These additional facilities will be closed, out of an abundance of caution,” the statement read.
“Facilities will be required to be cleaned and sanitized and all children will be tested to confirm their negative status before returning to the centre.”
The health authority said that all facility operators have been contacted, and parents of these facilities will be directly notified as soon as possible by the operators working with AHS.
Boston Lee-Wing, the owner of CanCare Childcare Centre, was left confused by how the outbreak transmitted from facilities that share the kitchen to others, like his, that aren’t linked.
He said one of the supervisors at his facility was contacted by AHS on Friday afternoon regarding one positive E. Coli case.
Lee-Wing said he didn’t hear from AHS that his facility would need to close, but heard that update on the news Saturday.
“We don’t take this lightly. Our centre has a capacity of 192 children, these 192 families have to look for some facility on Monday when they hear that we are closed,” Lee-Wing said.
“Up to now we are not too sure what AHS is going to be telling us.”
Alberta Health said AHS investigators are working with facility operators and will be inspecting each one to fully determine which kids in their facilities would have been in contact with symptomatic children.
All closure orders are posted on the AHS website as they are finalized.