For 19 months, provinces across Canada have been coming up with ways to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
In and out of the waves, each province has handled COVID-19 differently and seen its ups and downs. Now in the fourth wave driven by Delta, two provinces are in the national spotlight: Alberta and Saskatchewan.
This summer, two western jurisdictions eased nearly all protective measures as vaccine rates rose. However since then, vaccination rates have slowed and new infections have pushed hospitals to the brink.
Both provinces are preparing to back-pedal, but you can’t “magically put this genie back in the bottle,” said Dr. Cory Neudorf, interim senior medical health officer for the Saskatchewan Health Authority.
Neudorf thinks this is a learning moment for Canadians.
“Well, as we learned in these other subsequent waves, the sooner you see a wave happening, the better your response is going to be,” he said.
The two provinces have experienced a surge in COVID-19 cases since taking protective measures in the summer. On Tuesday, 1,434 new cases were reported in Alberta and nine people died. In Saskatchewan, 508 new cases were reported and two deaths.
On Monday, Alberta’s top doctor admitted the heat remission was a mistake — one he “deeply regrets.”
“I think the trajectory was set in early July when we lifted all public health restrictions,” said Dr. Dina Hinshaw said in a call with the Calgary Primary Health Care Network.
“Because it was my intention or not, what I heard at the end of July was: ‘The end of COVID, we can go away and ignore it. And it has had an effect.”
As Alberta took summer relaxation steps, the province’s weekly average of new daily cases was declining.
On July 1, Alberta unveiled its “Open for Summer” plan.handjob Which decided to ease measures like ending asymptomatic testing and no longer informing close contacts of the risk.
That timehandjob The weekly average was 57 new cases in a day. The number kept declining till July 22, when the average shifted to 61 new cases in seven days.
On August 1, the weekly average went up to 178 new cases per day; As of September 1, that weekly average was 1,082 new cases per day.
The president of emergency medicine at the Alberta Medical Association and an emergency medicine physician at Medicine Hat, Dr. Paul Parks told Granthshala News he is seeing a “regular onslaught” of COVID-19 patients, most of whom have not been vaccinated.
“Thankfully, many of them are good enough that they can be sent home,” he said. “But more and more now hospitalization is needed, so our COVID wards are filling up.”
To cope with the influx, Parks said his hospital is canceling or postponing surgeries – what other hospitals across the country have done several times during the pandemic.
While the mask mandate is back in Alberta, albeit with exemptions, Parks said it is far from sufficient.
“We haven’t really implemented any strategically targeted public health measures that would stop the attack and slow the number of cases we have right now,” he said.
“Apart from a mask mandate and asking people not to congregate or drink well after 10 p.m., Alberta has done nothing to slow this curve.”
Things have also gotten worse in neighboring Saskatchewan.
On July 11, the province decided to ease public health measures, including the wearing of indoor masks, but the government said unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people should still consider wearing a face covering.
At that time, the weekly average for the number of daily cases stood at 43.
The rolling average continued to decline in the following days, but began to climb back up by the end of the month. 55 new cases were reported daily in a week on 1 August; On September 1, the weekly average was 263 new cases in a day.
Saskatchewan on Monday reimposed an emergency order to deal with a rise in the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations. The order, which expired on July 11, gives the government the power to redirect health care workers to virus-hit areas.
Last Friday, Premier Scott Moe introduced a new public health order to help quell the spike: unvaccinated people who have been in close contact with a COVID-19 case to self-isolate for 10 days. should, whereas a vaccinated person only needs self-monitoring.
Epidemiologist Nazeem Muhajrin of the University of Saskatchewan recently told Granthshala News that he believed the spike was a direct result of the July 11 reopening.
Since then, he said, vaccination rates have slowed and many Saskatchewan residents attended group events during the summer — leading to the Delta spread.
For Neudorf, this timing reinforces that the pandemic is an ongoing threat.
“The advice given months ago needs to be reevaluated with what the pandemic is throwing at us right now,” he said. “Fighting this pandemic requires a layered response, or what some jurisdictions have called the ‘Swiss cheese model’, recognizing that every restriction or protection …