Alberta’s top health official says the fourth wave of COVID-19 that has swallowed intensive care units and forced the widespread cancellation of surgeries came after the province closed all public-seeds over the summer. Health restrictions were lifted.
Health’s chief medical officer Dina Hinshaw also said she regretted her announcement in late July that the province would treat COVID-19 as an “endemic” respiratory illness like influenza. She said it wrongly gave the impression to some that the pandemic was over, which she said made the case for additional public-health measures more difficult.
She made the remarks in a presentation to family doctors which was recorded on Monday evening and then posted on social media.
“I think the trajectory [of COVID-19 infections] That was set in place when we lifted all public-health restrictions in early July,” Dr. Hinshaw said in a presentation to Alberta’s Primary Care Network.
Alberta doctors warn, the state’s health system may fail soon
“If you look at the experiences of all the different provinces across the country, the people who have put in place base-level restrictions to manage interactions and close contacts are not seeing a significant impact, and those of us Those who take them off are the ones who saw significant, very rapid growth.”
Dr. Hinshaw made his presentation as provincial health data showed Alberta had broken its previous record of COVID-19 patients in intensive care; There were 212 people in ICU as of the end of the day on Monday, compared to a peak of 182 in May. Internal estimates showed that number could rise to 310 within two weeks and there is no sign that infections or hospitalizations have slowed.
The province lifted most of its COVID-19 restrictions on Canada Day, and then on July 28, Dr. Hinshaw announced that the province would end widespread testing, contact tracing and mandatory isolation as it moved away from treating COVID-19 as public-health. emergency. She pointed to data out of Britain that vaccines have “dissipated” COVID-19 infections from hospital admissions, meaning the province could face a surge in cases with limited impact on hospitals.
She has since acknowledged that those changes were premature, and on Monday provincial data showed the doctrine was not ending within two weeks of the July-end announcement. Dr Hinshaw acknowledged that the test’s announcement created a narrative that the pandemic was ending.
“Whether it was my intention or not, what was heard at the end of July was: COVID’s over, we can go away and ignore it,” she said. “It has had an impact and I deeply regret how it played out.”
The government has since delayed plans to end testing, tracing and isolation, and this month announced a provincewide mask mandate, a curfew on alcohol sales and incentives for people to pay $100 to get shots .
On Tuesday, Premier Jason Kenny’s office said he was meeting with cabinet and caucus colleagues to discuss the current COVID-19 situation, and that he had canceled a trip to northern Alberta.
With donations to his party falling behind the opposition NDP this year, Premier was set to attend a $1,500 per person cocktail and dinner fundraiser at the Fort McMurray Golf Club on Wednesday evening.
Also, Mr. Kenny was to deliver a keynote address at the Oil Sands conference and trade show about Alberta’s place in a world focused on fighting climate change. A preliminary draft of the government’s agenda released to the media last week also listed the United Conservative Party’s caucus retreat in Fort McMurray on Wednesday and Thursday. That mention was dropped in a later draft of the government’s agenda.
Apart from holding a news conference a week and a half ago, the premier has been largely absent from the public eye for the past month due to a COVID-19 infection and hospitalization.
Mr Kenny has been under pressure to introduce a mandatory vaccine passport system, as implemented in other provinces, but the premier has repeatedly rejected it. Instead, the province is creating a voluntary system that would allow people to prove their vaccination status if a business requests one.
However, Health Minister Tyler Shandrow left the door open for a mandatory vaccine passport last week, saying the government would see how those policies worked elsewhere and that he could not predict what the province would do.
Mr. Shandro’s press secretary, Steve Buick, suggested in an e-mail that Dr. Hinshaw’s remarks on Monday were no different from what he had previously said publicly.
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau criticized Mr Kenny and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe for denying vaccine passports and failing to properly manage the pandemic.
“I feel bad for the people in Alberta and Saskatchewan — really bad — who stepped up to do the right thing,” Mr Trudeau told reporters in Richmond, BC on Tuesday. “…and because of leadership that won’t immediately commit to keeping them safe, or even properly protecting the economy, they face greater risk.”
Alberta and Saskatchewan have the highest rates of COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, and mortality among the provinces. Their per capita infection rate is six times higher than Ontario’s and the death rate has more than doubled in the past two weeks.
The two prairie provinces also have the lowest vaccination rates in Canada.
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