Cases of COVID-19 – the diseases caused by the new coronavirus – have been identified in Alberta and the Calgary Zone.
In response to elevated steps by Alberta Health to control the spread of COVID-19, the Town of Banff has moved to the next stage of its emergency preparedness.
“Today, the Town of Banff activated its Municipal Emergency Plan,” said Banff Mayor Karen Sorensen. “This is not a declaration of a state of emergency. This is a step to advance our ability to support Alberta Health, and for our workforce contingency planning. We need to make sure we can continue providing essential services through a period of time when some of our staff may have illness.”
“The Town also partially activated our Emergency Coordination Centre (ECC). This means we have our most senior staff meeting regularly to implement measures as the situation changes in Alberta and in our community.”
Chief Silvio Adamo, Director of Emergency Management, said partially mobilizing the ECC adds dedicated staff resources to contingency planning and implementation in support of Alberta Health, if needed. The ECC activation also enables greater coordination of information sharing in the community and coordination of local and regional agencies and organizations.
“It is important to know that public health is the mandate of Alberta Health Services (AHS) and the Province of Alberta,” said Adamo. “The Town of Banff ECC maintains daily communication with the Province through the Alberta Emergency Management Agency. The Town operates in a support role during this health situation to ensure AHS public health efforts reach all people in Banff. The Town of Banff is responsible for ensuring essential services continue through an outbreak.”
The Bow Valley is included in Alberta Health’s designation of the Calgary Zone. If a case of COVID-19 is identified in Banff, Alberta Health will contact all people who were in contact with a positive case, and they will direct the individuals to take necessary steps to prevent the spread of the virus.
“The Town of Banff may not be notified immediately if there is a case in Banff, unless Alberta Health needs our help in notifying people who may have been in contact,” said Adamo. “However, it is important for people in our region to understand that it is likely this new coronavirus will spread to our community soon. All cases in Alberta so far are travel-related. As a destination for travellers from around the world, the Bow Valley is likely to have a case emerge here. That is why we all must take extra steps to prevent the spread.”
Alberta Health emphasizes the spread of coronavirus is preventable with appropriate measures.
The Town has implemented extra cleaning of facilities to help prevent the spread of viruses. Roam Public Transit has increased cleaning protocols.
In accordance with direction from Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer, the Town of Banff is cancelling all events that may have more than 250 people in attendance. This includes a Wildfire Forum planned for May. Out of an abundance of caution, some in-person public consultation activities are being cancelled or postponed, and the Town is looking to engage people in the community more through online channels, wherever possible.
All drop-in programs that take place at Banff Community High School and Banff Elementary School are cancelled until further notice. Other activities may be affected the exposure risk is assessed. People in Banff should check the Town website – Banff.ca/COVID – for other cancellations.
Other organizations are responsible for evaluating whether they should modify or postpone their events, based on criteria of exposure risk provided by Alberta Health and Health Canada.
Be Prepared in Banff
The Town of Banff urges all individuals to sign up for emergency alerts from the Town, in the event broad-based communications is required, by visiting Banff.ca/Emergency.
Continue to stay informed with updates from credible sources such as Alberta Health (Alberta.ca/COVID) and the Town of Banff Banff.ca/COVID. These sites also contain resources for employers and organizations that are being added every day.
“Most importantly, be vigilant in in practicing personal and workplace health and hygiene measures: wash your hands often and well, cover your cough or sneezes, stay home if you are feeling ill, and call 8-1-1 if you want advice if you are in one of the categories on the Alberta Health website” said Sorensen.
“We are all in this together. By working hard to prevent the spread, and by supporting each other, our community will show its resilience in this difficult time.”