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COVID-19: variant cases on the rise – Wetaskiwin Times Advertiser



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The Government of Alberta and Alberta Health Services (AHS)  provided a COVID-19 updated on Tuesday, March 30.

Fort Saskatchewan reported 32 active cases of the virus. Nearby, Sherwood Park reported 62 active cases, Strathcona County reported 26 active cases, and Sturgeon County reported 20 active cases.

St. John Paul II Catholic School informed parents that there were 10 cases of COVID-19 in the school being investigated by AHS. Cases were identified in Grades 5, 7, and 8. Out of an abundance of caution, all students will be moved to at-home learning in the days following spring break — Apr.6 to 9.

All cases will have completed their 14-day quarantine period by the time in-person classes resume on Apr.12.

Provincially, Alberta hit a single-day record for the number of new variant cases in the province after 332 were identified on Tuesday.

All of the new variant cases identified Tuesday were of the B.1.1.7 variant first identified in the United Kingdom.

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Across the province, there are 7,975 active cases of COVID-19. With 2,376 of those identified as variants of concern, the variants now make up nearly 30 per cent of all the province’s active COVID-19 cases.

There were 576 new cases of COVID-19 recorded on Tuesday after 8,078 tests were completed over the last 24 hours, for a positivity rate of 7.1 per cent.

There are currently 301 people hospitalized with the virus, an increase of 13 from Monday. Of those, 58 are in intensive care units, a decrease of six.

Four more people have died, raising the provincial death toll from COVID-19 to 1,987.

Meanwhile, Phase 2B of the province’s COVID-19 immunization program began on Tuesday for anyone with underlying health conditions that put them at high risk for severe outcomes if they contract COVID-19.

With nearly one million people under Phase 2B, Hinshaw said this is the largest single group made eligible for vaccination. This means the province will have to move slowly as more doses arrive.

“Albertans born in 1963 or earlier with underlying health conditions can book an appointment at participating pharmacies in Calgary, Edmonton, and Red Deer,” Hinshaw said. “Pharmacies in other communities will start booking later next week as more doses arrive.”

On April 5, Albertans born in 1957, 1958, and 1959 with one or more of the high-risk underlying health conditions will also be able to book appointments with Alberta Health Services.

Additional birth years will become eligible as more vaccines arrive.

Those who are eligible include cancer patients, transplant recipients, and individuals with severe disabilities. A full list of who will be eligible in Phase 2B is available at

-with files from Anna Junker

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Exclusive-Canada’s Ontario to expand use of AstraZeneca COVID vaccine as epidemic rages



By Allison Martell

TORONTO (Reuters) – The Canadian province of Ontario will begin offering AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday to people turning 40 or older this year, according to a government source.

The change will broaden access to vaccines as a third wave of infections threatens to overwhelm hospitals in Canada‘s most-populous province, and should make it easier to use doses that in some cases have been accumulating at pharmacies.

The change will be announced on Monday and go into effect across the province on Tuesday, according to the source. The vaccine has already been distributed to pharmacies but currently can only be given to people turning 55 or older this year.

Ontario announced new public health measures on Friday, promising checkpoints at provincial borders, new police powers and closing outdoor amenities, while leaving many workplaces open. The measures were widely criticized by doctors and public health experts, and the province quickly reopened playgrounds and modified the new police powers.

On March 29, Health Canada said it would review reports of serious blood clots and bleeding in a small number of people who had received the AstraZeneca vaccine in other countries, and an independent panel called the National Advisory Council on Immunization (NACI) recommended that it only be given to people 55 and older. All provinces followed that advice.

But NACI’s recommendations are not binding. Last week, Health Canada, the country’s drug regulator, said it had reviewed all available evidence and would not restrict the use of the vaccine, because its benefits outweigh its potential risks. Health Canada said at the time that NACI was reviewing its recommendations.

On Sunday, NACI’s chair told Reuters that the panel would make a new recommendation on Tuesday.

Health Canada said regulators in the UK had estimated the risk of clots to be very small, roughly four in a million people who receive the vaccine. It also said the complication was treatable. Two people have developed it in Canada, and both are recovering.

Several other countries have limited the use of the vaccine to older people. Denmark has withdrawn the shot, and Norway said on Thursday it would take more time to decide whether to resume use.

Ontario reported 4,250 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. The Ontario Hospital Association said 59 patients were admitted to intensive care on Saturday, bringing the number of COVID-19 patients in ICUs to 737.

Health Canada says those who receive the vaccine should seek medical attention immediately if they experience shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling, persistent belly pain, neurological symptoms like severe headaches or blurred vision, or skin bruising or tiny blood spots under the skin beyond the site of the injection.


(Reporting by Allison Martell; Editing by Diane Craft and Peter Cooney)

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Trudeau mobilizes federal workers to battle COVID-19 in Toronto and rest of Ontario




OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Sunday he would send federal healthcare workers to help Toronto and the province of Ontario battle a third wave of COVID-19 infections that has forced shutdowns of schools and businesses.

“We are mobilizing federal healthcare workers from across government departments to deploy on the front lines in Ontario and specifically the Greater Toronto area where the situation is most critical,” Trudeau said in a video posted on Twitter.

Other provinces, especially on the Atlantic coast, are working “to determine what human resources and equipment they could free up over the coming days,” Trudeau said, adding that the federal government would cover the costs of that help.

The government will also seek to boost rapid testing, especially for essential workers, Trudeau said.

The government of Ontario, Canada‘s most-populous province and industrial powerhouse, has moved schools online and announced more stringent public health measures on Friday, including shutting the provincial borders to non-essential travel.

On Saturday, federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair deployed two mobile health units to set up more hospital beds in Toronto and Hamilton, Ontario, and the prime minister said he stood ready to send the Red Cross to staff mobile vaccination clinics in Ontario if help is requested.

Canada‘s seven-day average of new infections was 8,669, the chief medical officer said on Sunday, a 26% increase compared with the previous seven days. Ontario reported 4,250 new cases on Sunday.

Canada has been ramping up its vaccination campaign but still has a smaller percentage of its population inoculated than dozens of other countries, including the United States and Britain.

More than 48 million doses are to be delivered by the end of June, which is enough for all of Canada‘s population of some 38 million to receive at least one shot, with a total of 100 million doses expected by the end of September.


(Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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Canada has second case of rare blood clots after AstraZeneca vaccin



(Reuters) – Canada on Saturday reported a second case of rare blood clots with low platelets after immunization with AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine in a week, while it said it still recommended the use of the shot.

The person who experienced the very rare event has been treated and is recovering, Canada‘s health ministry said in a statement, adding that the person lives in the province of Alberta.

Based on the evidence available, Canada still maintains that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh the potential risks, the statement said.

Canada health authorities “will continue to monitor the use of all COVID-19 vaccines closely and examine and assess any new safety concerns,” the statement said.

Canada reported a first blood clotting associated with the vaccine on Tuesday, and a day later, after a review, health authorities said they would not restrict use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

A separate advisory council had earlier recommended Canada stop offering the vaccine to people under 55. That panel is in the process of reviewing its advice.

Canada has been ramping up its vaccination campaign, but still has a smaller percentage of its population inoculated than dozens of other countries, including the United States and Britain.

Amid a spiking third wave of infections, Ontario, Canada‘s most populous province, announced new public health restrictions on Friday, including closing the provinces borders to domestic travelers.


(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru and Steve Scherer in Ottawa, writing by Steve Scherer; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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