COVID-19 Update: Alberta reports 1,486 new cases; 3 deaths | AstraZeneca-linked blood clot recorded in Alberta | Dismal turnout for Calgary vaccination clinic

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With news on COVID-19 happening rapidly, we’ve created this page to bring you our latest stories and information on the outbreak in and around Calgary.


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More than 350 Calgary pharmacies now offering COVID-19 vaccine

Pharmacist Brian Jones with a COVID-19 vaccine at the Evergreen Village Shoppers Drug Mart in Calgary.
Pharmacist Brian Jones with a COVID-19 vaccine at the Evergreen Village Shoppers Drug Mart in Calgary. Photo by Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

There are now 354 pharmacies offering the COVID-19 vaccine in Calgary. Although the government said on Monday that “select” pharmacies are taking (AstraZeneca) walk-ins for those aged 55-64, it’s likely best to call ahead. Before booking, go to the Alberta government website to find out when you’re eligible for your free vaccination. More details on booking an appointment at a pharmacy can be found at Alberta Blue Cross.


Alberta reports 1,486 new cases; 3 deaths

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Another 1,486 cases of COVID-19 were reported in Alberta on Saturday, bringing the active case count to 17,307.

Of the new cases, 955 are variants of concern.

Three deaths were also reported.


Calgary mass-immunization hub sees paltry turnout for AstraZeneca jabs, prompting questions about expanded eligibility

The immunization clinic at Calgary TELUS Convention Centre was photographed on Thursday, April 8, 2021.
The immunization clinic at Calgary TELUS Convention Centre was photographed on Thursday, April 8, 2021. Photo by Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

Thousands of appointments for AstraZeneca vaccinations went unfilled at Calgary’s downtown mass-immunization hub this week.

The vaccination clinic at the Telus Convention Centre can process up to 6,000 jabs per day. At its low point, on Thursday, only 211 AstraZeneca appointments were booked. On Monday, the first day jabs were available at the site, there were 2,855 AstraZeneca appointments, but that number dropped to 756 on Tuesday, 428 on Wednesday and later 414 on Friday.

Comparatively, Telus Convention Centre had about 900 Pfizer appointments booked on Monday and Tuesday, and about 2,060 appointments each day from Wednesday through Friday.

Read more.


Blood clots rare, reminds Alberta’s top doctor, as province reports AstraZeneca-linked reaction

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw on Tuesday, April 6, 2021.
Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw on Tuesday, April 6, 2021. Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta

The risk of dying from COVID-19 far outweighs the risk of developing a blood clot after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine, reminds the province’s top doctor as Alberta confirms Canada’s second case of an AstraZeneca-linked blood clot.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said on Saturday a male in his 60s is currently receiving treatment for a rare blood clot disorder, called vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT), after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine.

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These blood clots are “extremely rare,” stressed Hinshaw, who is urging Albertans to continue to get vaccinated to protect against COVID-19.

“The global frequency of VITT has been estimated at approximately one case in 100,000 to 250,000 doses of vaccine,” she said in a statement.

Read more.


Quebec hospitalizations and ICU cases highest since second wave

People wait in line at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal in early March for their COVID-19 jab as Quebec began vaccinations for seniors.
People wait in line at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal in early March for their COVID-19 jab as Quebec began vaccinations for seniors. Photo by Christinne Muschi/Reuters

Quebec is reporting its highest number of hospitalizations and intensive care cases due to COVID-19 since the second wave.

Health officials say that over the past 24 hours the province recorded 692 hospitalizations, 175 of which were in ICUs.

The figures mark the highest number of hospitalizations since Feb. 19 and the highest number of ICU cases since Feb. 3.

Confirmed cases of the virus in the past 24 hours totaled 1,537, largely in line with numbers over the past week as the variant-driven third wave continues to hit parts of the country west of the Maritimes.

Health Minister Christian Dube said Friday that Quebec will deploy sound trucks in hard-hit Montreal neighbourhoods to announce the presence of mobile clinics offering Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines.

Dube said the megaphone-equipped trucks will blast messages in multiple languages along residential streets in western Montreal and in the city’s diverse Cote-des-Neiges borough to encourage residents to receive one of 20,000 doses available without an appointment over the weekend, adding that the AstraZeneca vaccine is for those 55 and over.

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– The Canadian Press


Ontario will backtrack on Ford government’s random stop laws: source

Ontario Premier Doug Ford leads a COVID-19 briefing on Friday, March 26, 2021.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford leads a COVID-19 briefing on Friday, March 26, 2021. Photo by Postmedia

The Canadian Press has learned that the Ontario government is expected to backtrack on new police powers to enforce anti-pandemic measures.

A source with knowledge of the discussions — but who was not authorized to speak publicly about them — says a “scoping-down” clarification is currently being approved.

The new powers allow police to stop anyone at random and ask why they’re not at home and where they live.

The measures announced by Premier Doug Ford on Friday drew intense criticism.

Civil libertarians and politicians denounced them as overkill.

Police forces across the province also said they would not be stopping drivers or others at random.

– The Canadian Press


Friday

$17M class-action lawsuit filed against Calgary restaurant over COVID-19 outbreak

The exterior of Joey Eau Claire location in Calgary on Wednesday, March 24, 2021.
The exterior of Joey Eau Claire location in Calgary on Wednesday, March 24, 2021. Photo by Christopher Landry /jpg

Joey Eau Claire staff didn’t follow proper Alberta Health Services protocols leading to a COVID-19 outbreak at the restaurant, a $17-million class-action lawsuit claims.

The court action, filed by Calgary firm Guardian Law Group against Joey Tomato’s (Canada) Inc., alleges patrons became sick because employees failed to adequately ensure safety steps were followed to protect customers.

“The defendant, through its employees, breached the duty of care and failed to meet the applicable standard of care,” the claim states.

Read more.


Friday

Low turnout at downtown mass vaccination site

The immunization clinic at Calgary TELUS Convention Centre was photographed on Thursday, April 8, 2021.
The immunization clinic at Calgary TELUS Convention Centre was photographed on Thursday, April 8, 2021. Photo by Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

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Calgary’s mass-immunization hub saw a paltry turnout in its first week of offering AstraZeneca jabs to eligible Albertans.

After booking appointments for 2,855 AstraZeneca immunizations at the Telus Convention Centre Monday, the downtown site only had a combined 1,809 bookings for jabs with the vaccine from Tuesday through Friday.

That included low-points of 211 AstraZeneca appointments booked Thursday, and 414 appointments Friday.

In Alberta, only those aged 55 to 64 are eligible to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine after concerns over extremely rare blood clots led the National Advisory Committee on Immunization to recommend the vaccine not be offered to those under the age of 55. Health Canada maintains the vaccine is safe for all adults.

Only one such blood clot event linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine has been reported in Canada, in a woman in Quebec.

On Thursday, Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said she was meeting with federal officials to discuss adding younger age groups to the rollout of the vaccine.
Alberta Health Services encouraged all those eligible for the AstraZeneca vaccine to get their shot.

“We acknowledge that some people may have concerns about the AstraZeneca vaccine, however it is a safe and effective way of protecting yourself and your loved ones from COVID-19,” AHS said in a statement.

Alberta has administered only 30,000 of the 175,000-plus doses of AstraZeneca it received in its most recent shipment.

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The Telus Convention Centre is also completing immunizations with the Pfizer vaccine for other eligible Albertans.

From Monday through Thursday this week, the site administered 10,023 Pfizer doses. Another 10,000 vaccine appointments are already booked there between Saturday and Thursday.

The site has capacity to administer 6,000 doses of vaccine per day.

—Jason Herring


Friday

Doctors favour lowering age cut-off for AstraZeneca vaccine as cases surge

Pharmacist Jason Kmet holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine at the Polaris Travel Clinic and Pharmacy in Airdrie on April 9, 2021.
Pharmacist Jason Kmet holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine at the Polaris Travel Clinic and Pharmacy in Airdrie on April 9, 2021. Photo by Brendan Miller/Postmedia

Doctors say the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine should be offered to Canadians in a wider age range as COVID-19 infections soar in many parts of the country.

Provinces limited eligibility for that vaccine to those 55 and older, after a small number of cases of an unusual and serious blood clotting condition appeared in younger people — mostly women — who had received a shot.

Dr. Daniel Gregson with the University of Calgary says the age limit can easily be dropped to as low as 35.

He says uncertainty has been planted in peoples’ minds about getting AstraZeneca, but they do things that are riskier on a daily basis without a second thought.

Read more.


Friday

Alberta logs 1,616 more COVID-19 cases as Hinshaw letter sheds light on summer gatherings

A woman takes photos of the Famous Five Statue which has been dressed up with masks on Friday, April 16, 2021.
A woman takes photos of the Famous Five Statue which has been dressed up with masks on Friday, April 16, 2021. Photo by Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

Alberta tallied its second-highest number of new COVID-19 infections of the third wave to date Friday, with 1,616 new cases logged.

The continued surge come as a letter from Alberta’s top doctor to industry groups provides suggests the province may lift restrictions on audiences at events in July.

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The 1,616 new cases of the novel coronavirus Friday came from just under 17,000 tests, representing a positivity rate of 9.6 per cent.

More-contagious variants represented more than half of that case count, with 898 more cases in Alberta detected as variant strains.

Read more.


Friday

City police investigate possible refusals by air travellers to quarantine

Travellers head for COVID-19 testing at Calgary International Airport on Friday, Jan. 29, 2021.
Travellers head for COVID-19 testing at Calgary International Airport on Friday, Jan. 29, 2021. Photo by Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

Calgary police say they’re investigating several refusals by travellers to quarantine in hotels as required by federal orders.

And federal officials say they believe nine tickets have been issued for the offence under provincial legislation.

Those police investigations could lead to fines, though no charges have yet been laid in Calgary since Feb. 22 when Ottawa mandated the three-day, self-paid hotel stays where returning international travellers must await COVID-19 test results.

Read more.


Friday

AHS shuts down Beiseker restaurant for flouting COVID-19 rules

The Alberta Health Services building located on Southport Rd. S.W. Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021.
The Alberta Health Services building located on Southport Rd. S.W. Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. Photo by Brendan Miller/Postmedia

AHS ordered a Beiseker restaurant to shut down on Tuesday after an inspector found the establishment was providing dine-in service.

In a health inspector’s report, Arcadia Cafe, located at 1-308 6th Street in Beiseker, was serving customers inside its dining room in violation of provincial health orders which limit dine-in service.

The inspector also found more than six patrons seated together at tables, a lack of adequate spacing or barriers between those tables, and a failure by the restaurant to keep contact tracing information.

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The restaurant was ordered to cease all service until AHS approved its relaunch plan.

Beiseker is located 75 kilometres northeast of Calgary.


Friday

The ‘super-spreader’ party that never was: NDP says Kenney sowing distrust with misleading stories

Premier Jason Kenney announced, from Edmonton on Tuesday, April 6, 2021, that Alberta is returning to Step 1 of the four-step framework to protect the health system and reduce the rising spread of COVID-19 provincewide.
Premier Jason Kenney announced, from Edmonton on Tuesday, April 6, 2021, that Alberta is returning to Step 1 of the four-step framework to protect the health system and reduce the rising spread of COVID-19 provincewide. Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta

Alberta’s Opposition says Premier Jason Kenney is sowing distrust by recounting misleading anecdotes to illustrate COVID-19 policy decisions.

“I think this is about trust. I think this is about telling the truth,” NDP critic Sarah Hoffman said Friday.

“I think we’ve seen many examples where the premier tries to bolster his own narrative.

“This is a trend of being dishonest, and I think it really does call into question what trust and confidence we can have in the things the premier says and does.”

Hoffman’s comments came a day after Kenney’s office confirmed the United Conservative premier “misspoke” when he used an anecdote about a super-spreader birthday party in Athabasca as a key driver of recent soaring COVID-19 rates in the town north of Edmonton.

Read more.

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