‘This is a huge win’: Doctors weigh in on new restrictions

CALGARY — One emergency room doctor summed up the reaction of frontline healthcare workers to the new restrictions announced by the Alberta government Tuesday: “These are real measures!” she said.

“Finally!”

The restrictions came at a critical time for the province’s doctors, as hospitalizations and deaths are growing province-wide at an alarming rate.

Premier Jason Kenney said the number of COVID-19 patients in Alberta hospitals has grown by 600 per cent since the end of October. Since Nov. 1, the number of ICU patients in the province has quadrupled. Alberta’s daily case count has been over 1600 per day for the past week, with  suggestions by some numbers crunchers that it could rise to as much as 4,000 per day by Christmas if stricter restrictions were not implemented.

It’s putting enorous pressure on Alberta hospitals, intensive care units and health-care workers

 Some doctors worry that it may be difficult to enforce new restrictions limiting retail spaces and houses of worship to 15 per cent of capacty, while many medical staff were pleased that the new restrictions are in place for a minimum of four weeks – but also hope that ultimately it will be case counts and R-value that determine whether to lift them, not a date on the calendar.

Overall, the reaction among doctors to the new restrictions was positive.

“The province-wide mask mandate was something we were really hoping for,” said Dr. Christine Gibson. “The restrictions of business, like casinos and dine-in restaurants – this is a huge win. I think it’s going to have a big impact.”

If there was one point of contention among doctors CTV spoke to Tuesday, it was that the announcement was a little late to save Christmas.

“The best time to have done this was a few weeks ago,” said Dr. Raj Bhardwaj, “and the second-best time is right now.”

Bhardwaj also wondered about the lag time between Tuesday’s announcement and the implementation of many of the restrictions this weekend.

“I don’t know why – again – they’re delaying another four or five days,” he said. “I kind of feel like they got around to doing what they needed to do get around to doing, and I wish they had gotten around to doing it weeks ago, because then, we might have had a Christmas.”

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