Two Alberta medical experts say the province should bring in mandatory restrictions to combat rising COVID-19 cases and the high number of people being treated for the illness in hospitals.
With 3,203 active cases and 116 people in hospital, including 16 in ICU beds, there’s enough evidence that voluntary restrictions are not working, said Leyla Asadi, an infectious disease specialist in Edmonton.
“If our metric is increasing hospitalizations, which we’re definitely seeing, then we are responding to transitions that occurred several weeks ago,” Asadi said. “So I think that those factors definitely suggest that we need to be looking at mandatory restrictions.”
A potential second wave of COVID-19 could become a tsunami based on the current number of cases, said Dr. Tehseen Ladha, a pediatrician and assistant professor at the University of Alberta, who also wants to see mandatory measures introduced.
“This is a time that requires some rules and regulations in order to keep us safe,” Ladha said. “And that simply hasn’t happened. I’m really hopeful it will happen soon, because things are snowballing. And they’re going so fast that even if restrictions are put in place now, things are still going to peak very high.”
On Tuesday, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health said hospitalization rates don’t meet the thresholds that would trigger mandatory restrictions.
“Putting in mandatory restrictions, again, is something that we absolutely have on that list of things to do if we start to see our health-care system being impacted beyond what it can achieve,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said.
“We have seen an increase in our hospitalizations, and in the past few days we have had more people in hospital with COVID than we ever have before. So while we have not met that trigger, it is critical that we all work together.”
Hinshaw introduced voluntary measures on Oct. 8, nearly two weeks ago. Since then cases have continued to increase, as have hospitalizations.
Asadi would like to see gatherings restricted to 10 people, and wants to limit restaurants to 50 per cent of their capacity, along with a curfew on alcohol sales or a temporary closure of bars.
She said Albertans would be understanding if restrictions were introduced for a limited time to help decrease the number of cases in the province, as happened back in April.
“Huge sacrifices were being made at the time, and nobody wants to go back to that level of stringency,” Asadi said. “But I think Alberta and its institutions have shown that they’re more than able to respond appropriately, like the lab has ramped up its testing dramatically. They’ve hired a lot more contact tracers.
“And I also think that the sooner we act, the less strict we may need to be in the long run.”
Ladha said economic concerns and civil liberties may be reasons for not introducing mandatory restrictions, but she worries things will get worse if no further action is taken.
“If some restrictions aren’t put into place right now, the impact on the economy long term, if we have to return to a full lockdown, will be much, much more damaging than if we are able to put in no more minimal restrictions on a rolling basis to keep things under control.”
‘A matter of debate’
Hinshaw said it’s a matter of debate whether mandatory measures should be introduced now versus waiting for hospitalization metrics to be reached.
“There are always risks and benefits,” she said. “If we were to put in place mandatory measures right now, we would be putting them in place before we knew if we were able to turn that tide without the mandatory measures.
“We know that restrictions have an impact on other aspects of people’s health. And if we don’t need to use mandatory restrictions, then that would be the ideal scenario where we can get through this with people’s collective efforts and mitigate the impact on all those other determinants of health that we know are so important.”
Source: – CBC.ca
About 77 per cent of COVID-19 victims have at least one comorbidity, officials say – CTV Toronto
While the majority of patients who have died from COVID-19 have had at least one comorbidity, or chronic condition, Alberta’s top doctor says it doesn’t mean that when a compromised individual catches the disease they could die.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said Thursday that Alberta has always provided details on “severe outcomes” of the virus, including any comorbidities the patients have had.
About two weeks ago, the province introduced more specific information about whether or not comorbidities existed in the deaths currently being reported on a daily basis.
Alberta Health said the additional information, which includes the official date of death, was being released because of requests from the public and the media about those deaths.
However, Hinshaw says just because someone has one of the chronic conditions listed, it does not definitively mean they will die if they contract COVID-19.
“The presence of any chronic condition is not a death sentence and should not be,” she said. “Whether or not an individual who passed away had a chronic condition or not does not mean that that death was any less tragic.”
She also said Alberta has a risk assessment tool designed to help those with chronic conditions to understand their own risk.
“That’s a tool that we have updated over time as more information has become available – both through our own data in Alberta, as well as publications around the world,” she said.
Tom McMillan, assistant director of communications for Alberta Health, tells CTV News that Alberta has the “most in-depth and transparent” reporting of cases in the entire country.
“No other province shares as comprehensive and detailed data as we post online,” he said, adding Alberta Health is constantly looking for ways to provide additional data.
“We were the first province in Canada to offer a comprehensive online dashboard and were also the first to release ongoing data on severe outcomes, cases by age group and gender and other case characteristics.
“We have committed to providing Albertans with as timely and detailed information as possible while still protecting patient confidentiality.”
All three of the Albertans in their 20s who have died from COVID-19 had comorbidities, but the province has not released any more specific information due to privacy concerns.
Hinshaw also said that comorbidities do “disproportionately impact” those individuals, but every Albertan needs to do their part and follow all health rules to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“It is up to every single one of us – whether or not we have a chronic condition – to be a part of the solution, and to be a part of protecting everyone in our society.”
Provincial data shows about 77 per cent of Alberta’s 575 deaths due to the disease have had at least one comorbidity.
(Source/Alberta Health Services)
COVID-19 update for Dec. 4: B.C. records 711 new cases, 11 more deaths | Fraser Health introduces online form for contact tracing – Vancouver Sun
Article content continued
Henry has expanded bans on high-intensity fitness classes like spin and hot yoga, to include all yoga and activities like tai chi and stretching.
She has also ruled out all adult sports and most fitness activities; including beer-league hockey and ultimate. This came a day after reporting that an old-timers team from the Interior Health region had travelled to Alberta and come back infected. This led to dozens of cases among family and workmates and has caused an outbreak in at least one long-term care facility.
Henry said activities like tennis, swimming and golf were OK.
There were 694 cases of COVID-19 reported between noon Wednesday and noon Thursday, and 12 deaths. Henry said there were 9,103 active cases of the disease in B.C., of which 325 were in hospital and 80 in intensive care. The death tally is now 481.
Henry said a COVID-19 vaccine would be available to select British Columbians on Jan. 1, and would be widely available by the end of 2021.
12 a.m. – B.C. government bans all adult team sports
British Columbians are now prohibited from participating in adult team sports as the province tightens its COVID-19 restrictions.
The updated order covers all adult sports, whether they are played indoor or outdoors, including including basketball, cheerleading, combat sports, floor hockey, floor ringette, road hockey, ice hockey, ringette, netball, skating, soccer, curling, volleyball, indoor bowling, lawn bowling, lacrosse, hockey, ultimate, rugby, football, baseball, softball.
B.C. reports 711 new cases of COVID-19, 10 new in Island Health – CHEK
British Columbia has reported 711 new cases of COVID-19 across the province in the last 24 hours.
Of the 711 new cases, 10 are linked to the Island Health region.
There are currently 9,050 active cases in British Columbia, while 10,957 residents remain under active public health monitoring.
After surpassing the 9,000 mark yesterday for active cases, the number decreased by 53 in today’s announcement.
Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix note that 338 are in hospital currently – an increase of 13 – with 76 people in critical care as a result of the virus (decreasing by four from Thursday).
On Friday, there were 11 additional deaths related to the virus, meaning the provincial total over the course of the pandemic has now reached 492.
B.C. has now reported 134 deaths from the virus over the past nine days, meaning that 27 per cent of the total number of deaths in B.C. has occurred in that span.
Since Thursday’s numbers, there have been 143 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 427 in the Fraser Health region, 10 in the Island Health region, 81 in the Interior Health region, 50 in the Northern Health region and no new cases of people who reside outside of Canada.
As of Friday, the total number of cases in British Columbia over the course of the pandemic has been 36,132.
Dr. Henry noted that there have two new health-care facility outbreaks at Peace Arch Hospital Foundation Lodge and at Richmond Hospital, while the outbreak at Youville Residence has been declared over.
There are now 56 active outbreaks in long-term care and assisted living and nine in acute care facilities.
“We continue to face a significant surge in community transmission and new cases of COVID-19, which means following the provincial health officer’s (PHO) orders and using all our layers of protection is necessary for every person in our province right now,” reads a joint statement from Dr. Henry and Dix, sent out Friday.
Dr. Henry and Minister Dix are encouraging British Columbians to still be festive with the holiday season in full swing, but only with immediate household members at this time.
On Friday, Island Health said there were 183 active cases within its authority: 59 on southern Vancouver Island, 99 on central Vancouver Island and 25 on northern Vancouver Island.
Southern Vancouver Island includes the Greater Victoria region, Southern Gulf Islands and the Port Renfrew area.
Central Vancouver Island includes the Cowichan Valley, Duncan, Nanaimo, Parksville, Port Alberni and Tofino areas.
Northern Vancouver Island goes from the Comox Valley to Port Hardy but also includes surrounding areas like Alert Bay and Sointula.
Over the course of the pandemic, the Island Health region has reported 679 cases.
National COVID-19 landscape
Earlier today, the federal government revealed that Canada had surpassed the 400,000 case mark since the start of the pandemic.
It took only 18 days for Canada to rack up the latest 100,000 cases, marking the shortest growth period since the pandemic was first declared in March.
As of Thursday, 314,608 Canadians have recovered from COVID-19, and 12,407 have died, according to the Government of Canada website.
Other COVID-19 information
If there is a confirmed COVID-19 case in a school, public health contacts affected school community members directly. Regional health authorities also post-school notifications on their websites, providing the date and type of notification (outbreak, cluster or exposure) for impacted schools.
The Island Health school site can be found here.
Island Health’s COVID-19 data breaks down North, Central and South Island case counts and lists the number of days since any new lab-diagnosed cases. You can find the data here along with any public exposures.
According to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Medicine, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide is more than 65.7 million. More than 1.5 million deaths have been recorded.
More to come.
Canada doubles Moderna vaccine order, daily COVID-19 cases could top 10,000 by January – Reuters
Vaccines End the Pandemic’s Political Harmony – The New York Times
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