Some public health experts are concerned by Alberta the premier’s claim that the pandemic has ended, arguing that it falsely implies the coronavirus is no longer a cause for concern.
Public health experts concerned by Alberta premier’s claim that pandemic is over
The latest on restrictions and reopenings:
- Some public health experts are concerned by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s claim that the COVID-19 pandemic has ended, arguing that it falsely implies the coronavirus is no longer a cause for concern. In a video posted to his social pages on the weekend, a maskless Kenney shakes hands, embraces Calgary Stampede visitors and stands shoulder-to-shoulder for photo-ops — all of which are allowed under Alberta’s current public health rules. However, some health experts worried the video and accompanying caption — “Such a joy to connect with Albertans during Canada’s first major event after the pandemic” — might send the signal that people no longer have to take any precautions, including getting a first or second dose of vaccine if they haven’t already done so.
I get the desire for fun & connection. (And a political win.) But is the portrayal of 100% normal appropriate? <br><br>We STILL need to encourage vaccine uptake & precautions when appropriate. cc <a href=”https://twitter.com/AntibioticDoc?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@AntibioticDoc</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/jonathanstea?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@jonathanstea</a> <br><br>We aren’t done yet, <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Alberta?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Alberta</a>! <a href=”https://t.co/fBZmLUh8vX”>https://t.co/fBZmLUh8vX</a>
- Dr. Gabriel Fabreau, an assistant professor in general internal medicine at the University of Calgary, said he and his colleagues are holding their breath to see whether cases will surge following the Calgary Stampede, the first major event held in Canada since the pandemic began. The Stampede ended on Sunday.
- A particular concern for Fabreau is the proportion of Alberta’s population with at least one dose has somewhat plateaued. On Sunday, the province saw the fewest first doses administered since February, when vaccine access was scarce.
- The experts pointed to a few reasons for caution. In recent weeks, Alberta’s COVID-19 R-value and positivity rate have risen. Last Thursday, the province reported an increase in active cases for the first time since May. As well, they’re watching other countries that have had vicious rebounds after reopening. For example, COVID-19 cases were at their lowest in the Netherlands when the country reopened in June, and vaccination rates were comparable with Alberta. At the beginning of July, infections jumped 500 per cent in one week; most cases were in young people and were the highly transmissible delta variant.
- “I’m worried about the degree to which this video really invites a complete return to normal … this idea that the pandemic is over, it’s gone away, we don’t have to worry about anything, is just wrong. It’s just wrong scientifically,” said Timothy Caulfield, the Canada Research Chair in health, law and policy at the University of Alberta.
- The federal government announced Monday it plans to let fully vaccinated tourists visit Canada again soon Ottawa now says that — starting Aug. 9 at 12:01 a.m. ET — fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents living in that country will be able to visit Canada without having to quarantine for two weeks.
- The government said it plans to allow fully vaccinated travellers from all other countries to enter Canada without quarantine on Sept. 7.
- Canadians and permanent residents who are fully vaccinated will need to show documents proving they received doses of vaccines approved in Canada at least 14 days prior to entering the country.
- Officials said travellers must electronically submit COVID-19-related information to the government’s ArriveCAN app before arriving, meet the pre- and on-arrival test requirements, be asymptomatic and have a suitable quarantine plan.
- Calgarians left stranded in India after a travel ban was announced in April due to rapidly rising COVID-19 cases in that country will have to wait longer before they can return home, after the federal government extended a ban on flights arriving from India until at least Aug. 21.
- Alberta entered Stage 3 of its three-stage reopening plan on July 1, lifting all restrictions. The general indoor provincial mask mandate was lifted, but masking might still be required in limited settings or if certain communities continue it under local bylaws.
- The Alberta government announced on July 13 that remaining restrictions in effect for continuing care facilities would be lifted in a two-stage process beginning as soon as operators were able to make any necessary changes.
- The first phase was to end remaining visitor restrictions, limits to dining and recreation activities, and additional screening for residents who go off-site. Outbreak protocols, single-site staffing and other measures were to remain in place until further notice.
The latest COVID-19 numbers
- Alberta reported Monday that there had been 130 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend:
- 49 new cases out of 5,517 tests on Friday.
- 43 new cases out of 5,358 tests on Saturday.
- 38 new cases out of 4,345 tests on Sunday.
- There have been two more deaths. A total of 2,316 Albertans have died.
- The rate at which COVID-19 cases spread from one person to the next is once again rising in in the province. As of last week, Alberta’s province-wide R-value was 0.84, with a confidence interval of 0.74 to 0.94. It was even higher in Edmonton, at 0.97 with a confidence interval pushing the city’s R-value potentially over one.
- On Monday, provincial labs detected another 115 cases of coronaviruses of concern, of which 101 were the delta variant. There are currently 366 active variant cases in Alberta.
- Public health officials have reported the first cases of the C.37 coronavirus variant in Alberta — also known as the lambda variant. Both were travel-related.
- There are 605 active COVID cases, which is up by 26, and the test positivity rate is 0.99 per cent.
- There are 100 people with COVID in hospitals in Alberta. Of those, 27 are in intensive care units.
- 229,885 Albertans are considered to have recovered from COVID-19.
(Note the latest daily count of new cases in the above chart will usually vary slightly from the net new cases Alberta Health announces each day. For more on why, click here.)
The latest on vaccines:
- Alberta has reached a significant milestone in its COVID-19 immunization campaign with more than five million doses of vaccines administered. The province announced Monday that 5,056,062 doses of vaccines had been administered as of the end of day Sunday.
- As of the latest update, 74.8 per cent of eligible Albertans have had at least one dose of vaccine, while 59.7 per cent have had two doses.
- AHS is offering no-appointment, first and second dose COVID-19 immunization clinics with Pfizer vaccine at the Calgary Telus Convention Centre and the Genesis Centre, from Wednesday, July 21, through Monday, July 26.
- Clinics are also running in Calgary at the Somali Cultural Centre, 3940 29 Street N.E. on July 24, and at the Crossroads Community Centre at 1803 14 Ave N.E. on July 29.
- North of Calgary, AHS will also operate a clinic in the Crossfield Community Centre on July 27.
You can see active cases by local health area on the following interactive map. Scroll, zoom and click on the map for more information:
See which regions are being hit hardest:
Here is the detailed regional breakdown of active cases as reported by the province on Monday.
- Calgary zone: 326.
- Edmonton zone: 129.
- Central zone: 47.
- South zone: 28.
- North zone: 73.
- Unknown: 2.
Here are the latest Alberta COVID-19 stories:
With files from The Canadian Press