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COVID-19 Live Updates: News on coronavirus in Calgary for March 10 – Calgary Herald

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Watch this page throughout the day for updates on COVID-19 in Calgary.

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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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My COVID Story: How have you been impacted by coronavirus?

Postmedia is looking to speak with people who may have been impacted by COVID-19 here in Alberta.  Have you undergone a travel-related quarantine? Have you received your vaccine, and if so did you feel any side effects? Have you changed your life for the better because of the pandemic? Send us an email at reply@calgaryherald.com to tell us your experience, or send us a message via this form.

Read our ongoing coverage of personal stories arising from the pandemic.



Calgary pharmacies offering COVID-19 vaccine

This map shows all 48 Calgary pharmacies that are offering the COVID-19 vaccine. Currently the vaccine is open to all Albertans born in the year 1946 or earlier. Appointments are still necessary and can be booked by contacting the participating pharmacies. Details on booking your vaccine jab at a pharmacy can be found here.


More than 10,000 AstraZeneca vaccine appointments booked

More than 10,000 eligible Albertans booked appointments for the AstraZeneca vaccine Wednesday morning, as the province expanded its COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

Call volumes were high when Health Link’s phone line opened at 8 a.m., Alberta Health Services said on Twitter, while recommending people turn to the online booking tool if the line rings busy or opt to call later in the day. The introduction of a third COVID-19 vaccine has sped up the province’s immunization plan, giving the jab to people now who would have otherwise had to wait until May for Phase 2D of the government’s plan.

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First Nations, Métis and Inuit individuals aged 49 and other Albertans aged 64 with no severe chronic illness are the first people eligible for AstraZeneca vaccine.

In an open letter published online Tuesday evening, AHS said that while capacity has been increased with the booking tool, Albertans can help by considering waiting until later in the day to book appointments.

“While we have increased capacity, if everyone tries to access those services at the same time, the queues will fill up and there will be delays,” AHS said in the open letter. “If people are patient and wait until less peak times, the system will work better and more people will have an improved experience.”

The tool has capacity to book about 100,000 appointments over 24 hours, according to AHS.

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High COVID-19 count prompts citywide COVID-19 vaccinations in Prince Rupert, B.C.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia’s provincial health officer.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia’s provincial health officer. Photo by Don Craig/Government of B.C.

Health officials say an entire northwestern British Columbia city will be vaccinated over the next three weeks as the community continues to face persistent outbreaks of COVID-19.

The first clinics for roughly 12,000 residents of Prince Rupert and nearby Port Edward begin Monday and continue until April 1, said Northern Health in a statement.

Prince Rupert has a high COVID-19 case and positivity rate and has not seen the improvements in recent weeks that are happening elsewhere in the region, said Dr. Jong Kim, Northern Health chief medical health officer.

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Braid: Fight with doctors? Never happened, says health minister

Health Minister Tyler Shandro.
Health Minister Tyler Shandro. Photo by Government of Alberta

Columnist Don Braid writes:

If UCP politicians were asked which fiasco they want every voter to forget, the likely winner would be “the fight with the doctors.”

The great forgetting has already begun.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro claimed Tuesday there was never any conflict between the government and the Alberta Medical Association, which represents physicians.

At a legislature committee meeting he said: “there was no fight with the Alberta Medical Association.”

Politicians will always try to rewrite history, but for heaven’s sake, they can at least wait until the history is actually over.

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Closed since December, Calgary libraries reopen today

Facilitator Suzen Statz prepares for Wednesday’s reopening at the Calgary Central Library.
Facilitator Suzen Statz prepares for Wednesday’s reopening at the Calgary Central Library. Photo by Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

After being shut down for nearly three months, Calgary Public Library branches have reopened today with reduced hours.

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All 21 locations will require adherence to health measures still in place, including mandatory masks and prohibiting food and drinks. They’ll be operating at 15 per cent capacity and won’t be running any on-site gatherings or programs.

Mark Asberg, Calgary Public Library’s CEO, said he is pleased libraries were bumped up in the provincial government’s relaunch strategy.

“We know that our community is in need of our services and, for many, the library is a critical resource,” Asberg said in a statement.

YMCA Calgary announced last week that all of its facilities would reopen for drop-in fitness and some group classes on March 12. Brookfield Residential YMCA and Shane Homes YMCA opened on March 8.



More COVID-19 restriction violation charges being dismissed, say lawyers

A group of around 70 people gathered at Courthouse Park in downtown Calgary to protest COVID-19 restrictions on Sunday, March 7, 2021.
A group of around 70 people gathered at Courthouse Park in downtown Calgary to protest COVID-19 restrictions on Sunday, March 7, 2021. Photo by Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

An increasing number of charges alleging COVID-19 restriction violations are being dismissed by Alberta Crown Prosecutors, say lawyers defending against them.

In recent days, at least nine charges alleging mask violations and a ban on gatherings have been dropped by prosecutors, said Jay Cameron, a lawyer with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedom.

Some of those dismissed charges included fines of $1,200 and involved people attending protests in Calgary and Edmonton and those ticketed for not wearing masks in stores, he said.

It’s clear prosecutors considered the likelihood of a guilty verdict to be low, reflecting the charges’ frivolous and even unconstitutional nature, said Cameron.

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Tuesday

Alberta prepares for AstraZeneca vaccine rollout, reports 255 new cases of COVID-19

Alberta reported another 255 cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday as the province prepares to administer the first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine starting Wednesday.

Booking appointments for the AstraZeneca vaccine will start on Wednesday at 8 a.m. for Albertans aged 64 and First Nations, Métis and Inuit individuals aged 49, with no severe chronic illness.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is recommended for people aged 18 to 64 who are less at risk of severe outcomes and do not have a specific chronic condition, are not a caregiver of high-risk individuals or do not live or work in congregate settings.

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Tuesday

Police investigating after observing more than 100 people at party in southwest Edmonton Saturday night

Police estimate more than 100 people took part in an illegal party at Khrome Beauty Lounge in southeast Edmonton early Sunday. Taken on Tuesday, March 9, 2021 in Edmonton.
Police estimate more than 100 people took part in an illegal party at Khrome Beauty Lounge in southeast Edmonton early Sunday. Taken on Tuesday, March 9, 2021 in Edmonton. Photo by Greg Southam /Postmedia

Edmonton police are investigating after breaking up a party in southwest Edmonton attended by more than 100 people Saturday night.

Officers responded to the Khrome Beauty Lounge, located in a commercial complex called Ellwood Corner, at about 1:30 a.m. Sunday, to a complaint of a large gathering, Edmonton police spokesman Scott Pattison said.

It was estimated there were between 100 and 125 people in attendance at the party, where officers also discovered “large volumes of alcohol” and a DJ on the premises.

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Tuesday

255 new cases, six deaths

The latest COVID-19 numbers for Alberta:

  • 255 new cases on 5,434 tests; ~4.7% positivity rate
  • 263 in hospital; 37 in ICUs
  • Six deaths; 1,926 total
  • 4,470 active cases; 129,978 recovered

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There was no live update from chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw on Tuesday.

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CANADA STOCKS – TSX falls 0.14% to 19,201.28

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* The Toronto Stock Exchange’s TSX falls 0.14 percent to 19,201.28

* Leading the index were Stantec Inc <STN.TO​>, up 3.4%, Imperial Oil Ltd​, up 3.3%, and Corus Entertainment Inc​, higher by 2.9%.

* Lagging shares were Aphria Inc​​, down 14.2%, Village Farms International Inc​, down 9.9%, and Aurora Cannabis Inc​, lower by 9.4%.

* On the TSX 91 issues rose and 134 fell as a 0.7-to-1 ratio favored decliners. There were 24 new highs and no new lows, with total volume of 228.0 million shares.

* The most heavily traded shares by volume were Toronto-dominion Bank, Royal Bank Of Canada and Suncor Energy Inc.

* The TSX’s energy group fell 0.32 points, or 0.3%, while the financials sector climbed 2.46 points, or 0.7%.

* West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 0.52%, or $0.31, to $59.63 a barrel. Brent crude  rose 0.4%, or $0.25, to $63.2 [O/R]

* The TSX is up 10.1% for the year.

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Air Canada signs C$5.9 billion government aid package, agrees to buy Airbus, Boeing jets

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By David Ljunggren and Allison Lampert

OTTAWA/MONTREAL (Reuters) -Air Canada, struggling with a collapse in traffic due to the COVID-19 pandemic, reached a deal on Monday on a long-awaited aid package with the federal government that would allow it to access up to C$5.9 billion ($4.69 billion) in funds.

The agreement – the largest individual coronavirus-related loan that Ottawa has arranged with a company – was announced after the airline industry criticized Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government for dawdling. The United States and France acted much more quickly to help major carriers.

Canada‘s largest carrier, which last year cut over half its workforce, or 20,000 jobs, and other airlines have been negotiating with the government for months on a coronavirus aid package.

In February, Air Canada reported a net loss for 2020 of C$4.65 billion, compared with a 2019 profit of C$1.48 billion.

As part of the deal, Air Canada agreed to ban share buybacks and dividends, cap annual compensation for senior executives at C$1 million a year and preserve jobs at the current level, which is 14,859.

It will also proceed with planned purchases of 33 Airbus SE 220 airliners and 40 Boeing Co 737 MAX airliners.

Chris Murray, managing director, equity research at ATB Capital Markets, said the deal took into account the “specific needs of Air Canada in the short and medium term without being overly onerous.”

He added: “It gives them some flexibility in drawing down additional liquidity as needed.”

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said the government was still in negotiations with other airlines about possible aid.

Canada, the world’s second-largest nation by area, depends heavily on civil aviation to keep remote communities connected.

Opposition politicians fretted that further delays in announcing aid could result in permanent damage to the country.

Air Canada said it would resume services on nearly all of the routes it had suspended because of COVID-19.

‘SIGNIFICANT LAYER OF INSURANCE’

The deal removes a potential political challenge for the Liberals, who insiders say are set to trigger an election later this year.

The government has agreed to buy C$500 million worth of shares in the airline, at C$23.1793 each, or a 14.2% discount to Monday’s close, a roughly 6% stake.

“Maintaining a competitive airline sector and good jobs is crucially important,” Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters, adding the equity stake would allow taxpayers to benefit when the airline’s fortunes recovered.

The Canadian government previously approved similar loans for four other companies worth up to C$1.billion, including up to C$375 million to low-cost airline Sunwing Vacations Inc. The government has paid out C$73.47 billion under its wage subsidy program and C$46.11 billion in loans to hard-hit small businesses.

Michael Rousseau, Air Canada‘s president and chief executive officer, said the liquidity “provides a significant layer of insurance for Air Canada.”

Jerry Dias, head of the Unifor private-sector union, described the announcement as “a good deal for everybody.”

Unifor represents more than 16,000 members working in the air transportation sector.

But the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents roughly 10,000 Air Canada flight attendants, said the package protected the jobs of current workers rather than the 7,500 members of its union who had been let go by the carrier.

($1=1.2567 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa and Allison Lampert in Montreal; Additional reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa and Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Editing by Dan Grebler and Peter Cooney)

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U.K. advises limiting AstraZeneca in under-30s amid clot worry

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LONDON —
British authorities recommended Wednesday that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine not be given to adults under 30 where possible because of strengthening evidence that the shot may be linked to rare blood clots.

The recommendation came as regulators both in the United Kingdom and the European Union emphasized that the benefits of receiving the vaccine continue to outweigh the risks for most people — even though the European Medicines Agency said it had found a “possible link” between the shot and the rare clots. British authorities recommended that people under 30 be offered alternatives to AstraZeneca. But the EMA advised no such age restrictions, leaving it up to its member-countries to decide whether to limit its use.

Several countries have already imposed limits on who can receive the vaccine, and any restrictions are closely watched since the vaccine, which is cheaper and easier to store than many others, is critical to global immunization campaigns and is a pillar of the UN-backed program known as COVAX that aims to get vaccines to some of the world’s poorest countries.

“This is a course correction, there’s no question about that,” Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer, said during a press briefing. “But it is, in a sense, in medicine quite normal for physicians to alter their preferences for how patients are treated over time.”

Van-Tam said the effect on Britain’s vaccination timetable — one of the speediest in the world — should be “zero or negligible,” assuming the National Health Service receives expected deliveries of other vaccines, including those produced by Pfizer and Moderna.

EU and U.K. regulators held simultaneous press conferences Wednesday afternoon to announce the results of investigations into reports of blood clots that sparked concern about the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The EU agency described the clots as “very rare” side effects. Dr Sabine Straus, chair of EMA’s Safety Committee, said the best data is coming from Germany where there is one report of the rare clots for every 100,000 doses given, although she noted far fewer reports in the U.K. Still, that’s less than the clot risk that healthy women face from birth control pills, noted another expert, Dr. Peter Arlett.

The agency said most of the cases reported have occurred in women under 60 within two weeks of vaccination — but based on the currently available evidence, it was not able to identify specific risk factors. Experts reviewed several dozen cases that came mainly from Europe and the U.K., where around 25 million people have received the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“The reported cases of unusual blood clotting following vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine should be listed as possible side effects of the vaccine,” said Emer Cooke, the agency’s executive director. “The risk of mortality from COVID is much greater than the risk of mortality from these side effects.”

Arlett said there is no information suggesting an increased risk from the other major COVID-19 vaccines.

The EMA’s investigation focused on unusual types of blood clots that are occurring along with low blood platelets. One rare clot type appears in multiple blood vessels and the other in veins that drain blood from the brain.

While the benefits of the vaccine still outweigh the risks, that assessment is “more finely balanced” among younger people who are less likely to become seriously ill with COVID-19, the U.K’s Van-Tam said.

“We are not advising a stop to any vaccination for any individual in any age group,” said Wei Shen Lim, who chairs Britain’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization. “We are advising a preference for one vaccine over another vaccine for a particular age group, really out of the utmost caution rather than because we have any serious safety concerns.”

In March, more than a dozen countries, mostly in Europe, suspended their use of AstraZeneca over the blood clot issue. Most restarted — some with age restrictions — after the EMA said countries should continue using the potentially life-saving vaccine.

Britain, which relies heavily on AstraZeneca, however, continued to use it.

The suspensions were seen as particularly damaging for AstraZeneca because they came after repeated missteps in how the company reported data on the vaccine’s effectiveness and concerns over how well its shot worked in older people. That has led to frequently changing advice in some countries on who can take the vaccine, raising worries that AstraZeneca’s credibility could be permanently damaged, spurring more vaccine hesitancy and prolonging the pandemic.

Dr. Peter English, who formerly chaired the British Medical Association’s Public Health Medicine Committee, said the back-and-forth over the AstraZeneca vaccine globally could have serious consequences.

“We can’t afford not to use this vaccine if we are going to end the pandemic,” he said.

In some countries, authorities have already noted hesitance toward the AstraZeneca shot.

“People come and they are reluctant to take the AstraZeneca vaccine, they ask us if we also use anything else,” said Florentina Nastase, a doctor and co-ordinator at a vaccination centre in Bucharest, Romania. “There were cases in which people (scheduled for the AstraZeneca) didn’t show up, there were cases when people came to the centre and saw that we use only AstraZeneca and refused (to be inoculated).”

Meanwhile, the governor of Italy’s northern Veneto region had said earlier Wednesday that any decision to change the guidance on AstraZeneca would cause major disruptions to immunizations — at a time when Europe is already struggling to ramp them up — and could create more confusion about the shot.

“If they do like Germany, and allow Astra Zeneca only to people over 65, that would be absurd. Before it was only for people under 55. Put yourself in the place of citizens, it is hard to understand anything,” Luca Zaia told reporters.

The latest suspension of AstraZeneca came in Spain’s Castilla y Leon region, where health chief Veronica Casado said Wednesday that “the principle of prudence” drove her to put a temporary hold on the vaccine that she still backed as being both effective and necessary.

French health authorities had said they, too, were awaiting EMA’s conclusions, as were some officials in Asia.

On Wednesday, South Korea said it would temporarily suspend the use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine in people 60 and younger. In that age group, the country is only currently vaccinating health workers and people in long-term care settings.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said it would also pause a vaccine rollout to school nurses and teachers that was to begin on Thursday, while awaiting the outcome of the EMA’s review.

But some experts urged perspective. Prof Anthony Harnden, the deputy chair of Britain’s vaccination committee, said that the program has saved at least 6,000 lives in the first three months and will help pave the way back to normal life.

“What is clear it that for the vast majority of people the benefits of the Oxford AZ vaccine far outweigh any extremely small risk,” he said. “And the Oxford AZ vaccine will continue to save many from suffering the devastating effects that can result from a COVID infection.”

Source: – CTV News

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