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Alberta Health reports 950 new COVID-19 cases, 600 additional variants on Sunday – Global News

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On Sunday afternoon, Alberta Health reported 950 new COVID-19 cases over the previous 24-hour period.

The province also reported 600 additional variant cases, with 38 per cent of the active cases in Alberta now being variants of concern.

On Saturday, Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw tweeted Saturday there was a significant outbreak in the province relating to the P.1 variant, which was first discovered in Brazil. Hinshaw said the outbreak was linked to a traveller but did not provide further information.

READ MORE: Alberta Health investigating COVID-19 outbreak linked to traveller with P.1 variant

The province said it would provide an update on the situation on Monday.

Mount Royal University political science professor Lori Williams called the vague tweet “unwise.”

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“We’re reliant on (the government) for information and also to answer questions. To simply put out a tweet that raises concerns and doesn’t answer any questions raises the level of anxiety quite unnecessarily,” Williams said.

According to infectious disease Dr. Lynora Saxinger, the vaccines available in Canada do protect against the P.1 variant.

“Based on the lab data, we think the vaccines will offer some protection against this variant. But we don’t have firm, observed numbers in a community setting,” she said.

Medical experts say variants, including P.1, are more transmissible, which means preventative measures have to be followed more strictly.

“The transmissibility of all of them ranges in the one-and-a-half to two times more transmissible for all the variants of concern. The only one I have seen good data suggesting the disease itself is worse in terms of severity or more likely to cause death is actually the U.K. variant,” Saxinger said.


Click to play video: 'Alberta government remains tight-lipped on P.1 COVID-19 variant outbreak'



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Alberta government remains tight-lipped on P.1 COVID-19 variant outbreak


Alberta government remains tight-lipped on P.1 COVID-19 variant outbreak

The new cases reported Sunday came from 11,200 tests performed on Saturday, resulting in a provincial positivity rate of eight per cent.

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On April 3, 8,000 vaccine doses were administered and a total of 693,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered as of Sunday.

READ MORE: Spike in variant COVID-19 cases and possible closures worry some Alberta restaurant owners

The province said hospitalizations remained stable over the previous 24 hours.

The province said it will provide a daily death breakdown on Monday.

Sunday’s 600 additional variant cases were the highest in Alberta since the start of the pandemic, and daily cases were above 1,000 on Friday and Saturday for the first time since early January.

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Click to play video: 'Premier Kenney stays course on existing COVID-19 rules, pleads with Albertans to follow them heading into Easter'



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Premier Kenney stays course on existing COVID-19 rules, pleads with Albertans to follow them heading into Easter


Premier Kenney stays course on existing COVID-19 rules, pleads with Albertans to follow them heading into Easter

On Thursday, Premier Jason Kenney said the province was in a new wave in its battle against the virus but stopped short of implementing new restrictions to battle the surge.

It has some experts questioning the strategy.

“I feel we’re in the same position, that once this long weekend is over, you’re going to see tighter restrictions coming in, just like we’re seeing in much of the rest of the country,” Mount Royal political science professor Duane Bratt said.

READ MORE: Police visit, leave Calgary church that was allegedly not following COVID-19 restrictions

Last week, B.C., Ontario and Quebec all instituted additional measures, but Kenney put the onus on Albertans to follow current restrictions.

“I think, in various respects, the premier is fumbling this,” University of Calgary health law policy expert Lorain Hardcastle said. “In Alberta, there have been issues all along with a lack of consistency, and I think his personal responsibility mantra is not working. People know it’s not working.”

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“Hopefully, people are seeing the number of cases rising and that we’re not quite out of the woods yet,” infectious diseases physician Dr. Stephanie Smith said. “We’re going to see that exponential rise just as we did in our second wave, so we are prepared in the hospital setting for that surge.”


Click to play video: 'Will the vaccine rollout be able to outpace the new COVID-19 variants?'



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Will the vaccine rollout be able to outpace the new COVID-19 variants?


Will the vaccine rollout be able to outpace the new COVID-19 variants?

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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As COVID-19 vaccines for kids get closer, experts weigh up how to reassure parents – CBC.ca

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As Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech say they’ve moved a step closer to providing their COVID-19 vaccine for younger children, one mother says she’s keen to have her eldest vaccinated, but hears some hesitation among other parents.

“As parents, you’re nervous and you’re apprehensive, obviously, about any risks,” said Fallon Jones, who lives in Halifax with a five-year-old daughter and two-year-old son.

“But we have to weigh the pros and the cons here, and I think that this is a good opportunity to protect them against a potentially deadly virus,” she told The Current’s Matt Galloway.

Pfizer-BioNTech said Monday that a clinical trial of its COVID-19 vaccine recorded a robust immune response in five- to 11-year-olds, and the company plans to seek regulatory approval as soon as possible. Children received two shots, each one-third the dose size given to adults. The findings have not been peer-reviewed, nor published.

Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine appears safe, effective in younger kids, expert says

3 days ago

Although he cautions Pfizer-BioNTech has yet to release the raw data supporting the claim that its COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective in kids aged 5-11, it’s ‘reasonable’ to assume that’s accurate, says Dr. Christopher Labos, a cardiologist with a degree in epidemiology. 2:35

For any vaccine to be approved by Health Canada, the manufacturers supply the necessary clinical trial data for review. If the regulator grants approval, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) will make a recommendation on their use, but the final decision to deploy the vaccines rests with provincial authorities.

In a statement to The Current, Health Canada said the makers of all COVID-19 vaccines approved in Canada are conducting or planning studies in adolescents and younger children, but it has so far not received any submission for the approval of any COVID-19 vaccine for children under 12.

In her work at a vaccine hesitancy clinic in Calgary, Dr. Cora Constantinescu meets parents who are experiencing “a lot of fear and anxiety” around their children potentially getting the vaccine.

“We often have parents who are fully vaccinated themselves, who may be hesitant about their kids,” said Constantinescu, a pediatrician and infectious disease doctor at Alberta Children’s Hospital.

She said that parents talk to her about things they’ve seen online, including “anti-vaccine rhetoric and a lot of misconstrued science.”

In Halifax, Jones said she often hears other parents say they don’t know what’s in the vaccine, so they won’t give it to their kids. When she asks if they knew what was in the vaccines their kids received as babies, the response is usually no, she said.

“I completely respect and understand how there would be some fear associated with it,” she said. 

But ultimately, “we trusted our doctors then and we trusted the science then, and we need to do the same with this vaccine.” 

Dr. Cora Constantinescu said that as parents approach the decision, they should consider the negative impacts of COVID-19 on children. (Submitted by Dr. Cora Constantinescu)

How should parents approach vaccine question?

Constantinescu said many parents have seen misinformation on social media, where there is a “huge polarization of the pro-vaccine and the anti-vaccine crowd.”

“The parents are caught in the middle, scared and worried about their kids, trying to make the best decision they can,” she said.

As parents approach the decision, they should consider the dual impact of COVID-19 on children, she said.

“We’re seeing the direct effects of COVID on children, and we know that that can range from mild disease, to respiratory illness, to being hospitalized, having a multi-system inflammation, to ending up in ICU,” she said.

There is also an indirect cost, including mental health issues and issues around socialization, she said.

How a doctor discusses vaccine hesitancy with patients

10 months ago

Dr. Cora Constantinescu, an infectious disease specialist from the Vaccine Hesitancy Clinic in Calgary, discusses how she approaches conversations around vaccine hesitancy, the impact of those conversations and what’s needed in messaging around the COVID-19 vaccine. 3:44

The news from Pfizer-BioNTech gives her hope that those impacts can soon be addressed, but she warned that the data has not yet been made public, or reviewed by Health Canada.

If it is approved, she said parents should approach the vaccine as an issue of “personal protection first.”

“It’s about protecting their kids directly, looking out for them, and wanting to return them to a normal life,” she said.

‘Pull out all the stops’ to protect kids

Dr. Kashif Pirzada, an emergency physician in Toronto, wants to see a safe vaccine for kids approved and available as quickly as possible.

“I’m calling for all of these processes to be speeded up and done very transparently,” said Pirzada, who is also a co-founder of Masks4Canada, a group that advocates for public health measures to slow the spread of the virus.

Dr. Kashif Pirzada said that when a vaccine is approved for younger children, ‘we should pull out all the stops and get these shots into little arms as quickly as possible.’ (Dr. Kashif Pirzada)

He added that more work should be done to reassure parents that the vaccines are safe. He warned that COVID-19 is not harmless to children, and the longer they remain unprotected, the more infections there will be.

In the meantime, vaccination sites and health-care workers could be prepared to ramp the vaccination campaign back up, he said.

“Once that approval comes, we should pull out all the stops and get these shots into little arms as quickly as possible.”


Written by Padraig Moran. Produced by Rachel Levy-McLaughlin, Arianne Robinson and Joana Draghici.

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Gold price drops as Powell talks 'gradual' tapering, downplays Evergrande contagion concerns – Kitco NEWS

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(Kitco News) The gold market saw its earlier gains reversed as Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell talked about “gradual” tapering while downplaying China’s Evergrande contagion effect on the U.S. market.

On Wednesday, the Fed said it may soon start tapering its $120 billion in monthly asset purchases, with central bank officials showing growing support for raising interest rates in 2022. 

“If progress continues broadly as expected, the Committee judges that a moderation in the pace of asset purchases may soon be warranted. These asset purchases help foster smooth market functioning and accommodative financial conditions, thereby supporting the flow of credit to households and businesses,” the Fed said in a statement.

When clarifying the Fed’s stance at a press conference following the Fed statement, Powell indicated that it would be a “very gradual taper,” which could conclude in the middle of next year.

Powell also pointed out that the central bank has the freedom to speed up or slow down the tapering process as it sees fit. He added that markets should not expect a rate hike while the Fed is still tapering.

Tapering does depend on substantial further progress made by the U.S. economy. And if the economy continues to advance in line with expectations, the Fed could move ahead with tapering at the next meeting.

“For me, it wouldn’t take a knockout [August] employment report. It would take a reasonably good employment report for me to feel like that test is met,” Powell said. “I would say that in my own thinking, the test is all but met. I don’t personally need to see a very strong employment report. Again it’s not to be confused with the test for [rate] liftoff, which is so much higher.”

The Fed Chair was also asked about China’s Evergrande debt issue, which sparked a rout in the markets earlier this week.

“The Evergrande situation seems very particular to China, which has very high debt for an emerging economy,” Powell told reporters. “Corporate defaults in the U.S. are very low right now … You would worry that it would affect global financial conditions through confidence channels.”

When asked about the stock-trading policies for Fed officials, Powell replied that they are “not adequate” and the Fed “could do better.”

Powell noted that it is reasonable for Fed officials not to own the same assets as Fed buys. “We are going to be looking at all those things,” he said.

On the debt ceiling issue, Powell also urged Congress to raise the debt limit in a timely fashion. “It is critically important. Failure to do that is something that could result in severe damage to the economy and financial markets.”

He added that no one should assume Fed can protect the economy if the debt ceiling is not raised.

In response to Powell’s comments, gold saw some losses as markets interpreted Powell’s comments as upbeat when it came to the U.S. economy. At the time of writing, December Comex gold futures were trading at $1,767.20, down 0.62% on the day.

Live 24 hours gold chart [Kitco Inc.]

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China asks local governments to prep for Evergrande downfall: Report – CNBC Television

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