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COVID-19 Live Updates: News on coronavirus in Calgary for April 5

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

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Hinshaw testifies some personal freedoms had to be limited to protect all Albertans from COVID-19 threat

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw provides an update on COVID-19 in the province during a press conference in Edmonton on Wednesday, March 23, 2022.
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw provides an update on COVID-19 in the province during a press conference in Edmonton on Wednesday, March 23, 2022. Photo by David Bloom /Postmedia

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health acknowledged Tuesday that the measures taken to combat the COVID-19 pandemic affected individual rights.

But Dr. Deena Hinshaw told a hearing challenging her public health orders that the measures were a “last resort” necessary to protect individuals from the coronavirus and maintain the viability of the health-care system.

Under cross-examination by lawyer Leighton Grey, one of two counsel representing parties challenging the constitutionality of Hinshaw’s orders, the doctor said such measures were needed when voluntary compliance didn’t prevent the spread of the disease.

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“With many of the health orders you made you knew, the Government of Alberta knew, that they were limiting or restricting individual freedoms . . . isn’t that so?” Grey asked.

“The last resort was to restrict those freedoms when the ability to mitigate the risk that COVID posed to the population was not possible with the . . . voluntary means that had previously been employed,” Hinshaw said.

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More boosters? Vax advisory committee tells province to prepare

Provinces and territories should quickly get ready to offer fourth doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the coming weeks starting with people over the age of 80 and long-term care residents, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended Tuesday.

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NACI strongly recommended a second booster for people between 70 and 79 years of age, and said they may also be offered to people from First Nations, Metis, and Inuit communities.

“Preliminary data indicate that a second booster dose provides additional protection, including against severe disease,” the committee reported Tuesday.

In general, a second booster dose should be given 6 months after the patients got their first booster shots, NACI says, though that optimal timeline will need to be weighed against how rampant COVID-19 is at the local level.

The committee also suggests a recent COVID-19 infection should be factored in, since boosters are best offered at least three months after symptom onset or a positive test.

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Ontario’s health minister said today that province will announce a plan tomorrow for expanding eligibility for second booster shots.

— The Canadian Press


Hybrid of BA.1 and BA.2, called XE, could be the most transmissible variant yet: WHO

A man wearing a protective face mask walks past an information sign for a coronavirus “pod” at a hospital in London, on March 3.
A man wearing a protective face mask walks past an information sign for a coronavirus “pod” at a hospital in London, on March 3. Photo by Toby Melville/Reuters

The disclosure of new COVID variants emerging in China and the rise of a potentially more transmissible strain in the U.K. has recast the spotlight on the ongoing risk of the virus, even as health experts say there’s no reason to panic.

The World Health Organization said a hybrid of two omicron strains — BA.1 and BA.2 — that was first detected in the U.K. and dubbed XE could be the most transmissible variant yet. It is estimated to spread 10% more easily than BA.2, which itself was more transmissible than the original omicron famous for its ease of penetration.

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Meanwhile in China, which is experiencing its biggest outbreak since Wuhan, authorities have disclosed two novel omicron subvariants that don’t match any existing sequences. It’s unclear if the infections were one-off events of little significance, or if they may be a sign of problems ahead.

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Quebec extends mask mandate as new COVID wave spreads in Canada

Quebec Premier Francois Legault responds to a question during a news conference in Montreal, Jan. 11, 2022.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault responds to a question during a news conference in Montreal, Jan. 11, 2022. Photo by Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

Quebec will require masks to be worn in indoor public spaces for all of April, delaying a plan to relax the measure by the middle of the month as it and other Canadian provinces face a new COVID-19 wave, a top public health official said on Tuesday.

The province, the second most populous in Canada, will become one of the last parts of North America to continue a mask mandate in public indoor places like stores, with health officials projecting a rise in cases and hospitalizations.

“We do not expect the mask will be needed after the month of April,” Dr. Luc Boileau, the province’s interim public health director, told reporters. “But we have to wait and see how the progression of this wave will be.”

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Should Canada be worried about a sixth wave of COVID-19? Three experts weigh in

Simon Fraser University professor Caroline Colijn: “We want to make sure we’re not moving into this next phase with our elderly and the people boosted first actually having lower protection” as their immunity wanes.
Simon Fraser University professor Caroline Colijn: “We want to make sure we’re not moving into this next phase with our elderly and the people boosted first actually having lower protection” as their immunity wanes. Photo by Dale Northey/File

There’s been no official national declaration of a sixth wave of COVID-19, but plenty of chatter and grumblings of one.

It’s hard to get any kind of grasp on exact numbers. There’s an old saying in medicine that if you don’t take a temperature, you can’t find a fever.

With less testing than at virtually any point during the pandemic, “it certainly makes you wonder if the hope was that, by stopping to look for it, it won’t be a problem,” says Montreal infectious diseases specialist Dr. Matthew Oughton. “Except that’s not the way a pandemic virus works.”

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Freedom Convoy protester not seriously injured by horse, police watchdog finds

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Demonstrators stand in front of Canadian police officers riding horses, as truckers and supporters protest vaccine mandates in Ottawa on Feb. 18, 2022.
Demonstrators stand in front of Canadian police officers riding horses, as truckers and supporters protest vaccine mandates in Ottawa on Feb. 18, 2022. Photo by REUTERS, file

The Ontario police watchdog says a woman who claimed she was injured by a police horse during the “freedom convoy” protest was not hurt seriously enough to warrant an investigation.

The Special Investigations Unit was looking into police behaviour during the large-scale police operation to disperse the protests in downtown Ottawa that gridlocked the city’s downtown for more than three weeks.

The blockades, which at times also shuttered several border crossings, were demanding an end to all COVID-19 mandates, but some protesters also wanted to force the Liberal government out of office.

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Monday

Shanghai lockdown deepens after new surge in asymptomatic cases

Workers and volunteers look on in a compound where residents are tested for the COVID-19 coronavirus during the second stage of a pandemic lockdown in Jing’an district in Shanghai on April 4, 2022.
Workers and volunteers look on in a compound where residents are tested for the COVID-19 coronavirus during the second stage of a pandemic lockdown in Jing’an district in Shanghai on April 4, 2022. Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images

SHANGHAI — The major Chinese financial center of Shanghai extended restrictions on transportation on Tuesday after a day of intensive city-wide testing saw new cases surge to more than 13,000, with no end to the lockdown yet in sight.

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After originally taking a more piecemeal approach aimed at minimizing economic disruptions, Shanghai imposed a two-stage lockdown last week as authorities struggled to contain what had become the city’s biggest ever COVID-19 outbreak.

The lockdown was originally set to end on Tuesday in the city’s western districts, but has now been extended until further notice.

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Monday

Public health measures were unprecedented — but so was pandemic, Hinshaw tells hearing challenging her orders

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw provides an update on COVID-19 in the province during a press conference in Edmonton on Wednesday, March 23, 2022.
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw provides an update on COVID-19 in the province during a press conference in Edmonton on Wednesday, March 23, 2022. Photo by David Bloom /Postmedia

The public health orders made to combat the pandemic were unprecedented, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw conceded Monday.

But so was the coronavirus that continues to impact the health of people worldwide, she told a hearing challenging the constitutionality of the Alberta government’s measures.

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Under cross-examination by lawyer Leighton Grey on an affidavit Hinshaw has filed to justify the government actions, Hinshaw was quizzed on the variety of steps she ordered, from mask mandates to economic lockdowns.

Grey suggested Hinshaw was granted extraordinary powers by the province, but she said those have existed for decades under the Public Health Act.

“The events of the past few years are part of what the Public Health Act was written for and part of the planning to be prepared for a significant public health event,” Hinshaw said.

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Monday

Dr. Verna Yiu out as head of Alberta Health Services

Alberta Health Services CEO Dr. Verna Yiu provides an update on the Province’s response to COVID-19 and the Omicron variant, during a press conference in Edmonton, Monday Nov. 29, 2021.
Alberta Health Services CEO Dr. Verna Yiu provides an update on the Province’s response to COVID-19 and the Omicron variant, during a press conference in Edmonton, Monday Nov. 29, 2021. Photo by David Bloom /Postmedia

Dr. Verna Yiu has been removed as president and CEO of Alberta Health Services more than a year before her contract was set to expire.

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Neither Alberta Health nor AHS would confirm to Postmedia whether Yiu was fired or resigned, but AHS did confirm Yiu will receive a severance payment of one year’s salary, more than $573,000, something guaranteed in her contract if she was fired “without just cause.”

Yiu’s contract was extended last June for another two years. In a Monday news release from AHS, Yiu thanked staff, physicians and volunteers and expressed pride in their work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I took on this role in 2016 because I saw an opportunity to further solidify culture, teamwork, and excellence within the organization. I believed that we could develop better relationships with our patients and families, and with Alberta communities,” Yiu wrote.

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AHS said in its release a search committee was formed “several months ago” to begin looking for Yiu’s replacement, but did not offer a specific reason for Yiu’s departure.

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Monday

Quebec recorded as many as 32,000 new daily COVID infections last week, study estimates

Interim Quebec director of Public Health Dr. Luc Boileau and Quebec Premier François Legault.
Interim Quebec director of Public Health Dr. Luc Boileau and Quebec Premier François Legault. Photo by Paul Chiasson / The Canadian Press

Quebec saw between 18,000 and 32,000 new COVID-19 infections per day last week, according to an estimate released Friday by a Montreal-based research centre.

The results of the study by CIRANO should make Quebecers take the sixth wave of the pandemic seriously, Roxane Borges Da Silva, a professor at Université de Montréal’s school of public health, who worked on the research, said in an interview.

The Quebec government, she added, should strengthen its messaging on COVID-19 and reconsider its plan to lift mask mandates in mid-April.

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“It’s a very significant rise — non-negligible and worrisome — especially for those who are vulnerable to COVID and to health workers,” she said.

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Monday

New COVID-19 vaccine policy for federal workers expected

Passengers arrive at Via Rail at Central Station in Montreal.
Passengers arrive at Via Rail at Central Station in Montreal. Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

The federal government is planning to update its policy on mandatory COVID-19 vaccines for its workers on Wednesday.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada has already filed a grievance against the existing policy, which requires all federal public service members to be fully vaccinated even if they work at home.

The government is obligated to review the policy after six months and that timeline runs out this week.

PSAC president Chris Aylward says the union has been consulted, but he does not know what to expect from the new policy.

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Monday

B.C. Premier John Horgan tests positive for COVID-19

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks to reporters before a game of road hockey on March 31 to bring attention to the fight against climate change.
B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks to reporters before a game of road hockey on March 31 to bring attention to the fight against climate change. Photo by Jason Payne /PNG

B.C. Premier John Horgan has contracted COVID-19.

“This morning I tested positive for COVID-19,” he said on Twitter Monday. “Fortunately, my symptoms are mild and that is thanks to being fully vaccinated.”

Horgan said he is following public health guidance by isolating and working from home until his symptoms are gone.

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Monday

Canadians becoming more divided over COVID-19 and politics, survey suggests

People wave flags on top of a truck in front of Parliament Hill as truckers and their supporters protest against the COVID-19 vaccine mandates in Ottawa, Feb. 6, 2022.
People wave flags on top of a truck in front of Parliament Hill as truckers and their supporters protest against the COVID-19 vaccine mandates in Ottawa, Feb. 6, 2022. Photo by PATRICK DOYLE /REUTERS

A new survey suggests Canadians are becoming more divided, with some saying issues have led them to reduce contact with friends or family.

The national phone survey by the Canadian Hub for Applied and Social Research at the University of Saskatchewan was done between March 7 and March 24. It asked 1,011 people about the issues that divide them the most.

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About three out of every four respondents said they believe society has become more polarized.

The majority said the COVID-19 pandemic (72 per cent) and the 2021 federal election (73 per cent) were the two most divisive issues over the past year.

About 40 per cent of those surveyed said they have reduced contact with friends or family over an argument about the pandemic or politics.

“There’s been so much amplified rhetoric in the last two years since the beginning of the pandemic, and a lot of the rhetoric has really served to divide folks — whether that division is actually real or it’s just perceived,” research director Jason Disano told The Canadian Press in a phone interview from Saskatoon.

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Monday

China sends military, doctors to Shanghai to test 26 million residents for COVID

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Residents line up for nucleic acid testing at a residential area, during the second stage of a two-stage lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Shanghai, China April 4, 2022. REUTERS/Aly Song
Residents line up for nucleic acid testing at a residential area, during the second stage of a two-stage lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Shanghai, China April 4, 2022. REUTERS/Aly Song Photo by ALY SONG /REUTERS

China has sent the military and thousands of health-care workers into Shanghai to help carry out COVID-19 tests for all of its 26 million residents as cases continued to rise on Monday, in one of the country’s biggest-ever public health responses.

Some residents woke up before dawn for white-suited health-care workers to swab their throats as part of nucleic acid testing at their housing compounds, many queuing up in their pajamas and standing the required two meters apart.

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on Sunday dispatched more than 2,000 medical personnel from across the army, navy and joint logistics support forces to Shanghai, an armed forces newspaper reported.

So far 38,000 health-care workers from provinces such as Jiangsu, Zhejiang and the capital Beijing have been dispatched to Shanghai, according to state media, which showed them arriving, suitcase-laden and masked up, by high-speed rail and aircraft.

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It is China’s largest public health response since it tackled the initial COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus was first discovered in late 2019. The State Council said the PLA dispatched more than 4,000 medical personnel to the province of Hubei, where Wuhan is, at that time.

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Monday

U.S. poor died at much higher rate from COVID than rich: report

Doctor Care And Patient In Covid People Mask
Doctor Care And Patient In Covid People Mask

Americans living in poorer counties died during the pandemic at almost twice the rate of those in rich counties, a study released Monday by the Poor People’s Campaign showed.

The study, based on income and death data from over 3,200 U.S. counties, shows an even bigger gap during the Delta variant that made up the U.S.’s fourth coronavirus wave, when people living in the lowest income counties died at five times the rate of those in the highest income counties.

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The 300 counties with the highest death rates have an average poverty rate of 45%, and household median incomes on average $23,000 lower than counties with lower rates. Many of the top twenty counties were sparsely populated areas in Georgia, Texas and Virginia, the report shows.

“The neglect of poor and low-wealth people in this country during a pandemic is immoral, shocking and unjust, especially in light of the trillions of dollars that profit-driven entities received,” said William Barber, director of the Poor People’s Campaign, an activist group that aims to correct the United States’ income inequality.

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Monday

Surging COVID cases force easyJet to cancel UK flights over staff shortages

Travellers make their way to the check-in area at Toronto Pearson International Airport Terminal 1 during the Covid 19 pandemic in Toronto, Wednesday December 15, 2021.
Travellers make their way to the check-in area at Toronto Pearson International Airport Terminal 1 during the Covid 19 pandemic in Toronto, Wednesday December 15, 2021. Photo by Peter J Thompson /National Post

A renewed surge of COVID-19 in Britain has forced airlines including easyJet to cancel hundreds of flights in recent days as staff sickness levels soar.

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England dropped all its coronavirus restrictions earlier this year, including a legal requirement to self-isolate when testing positive and the need to wear masks in public places.

Cases started to surge in Britain near the beginning of last month and by the end of the March 26 week, one in 13 people were believed to be positive with the virus, the highest figure since the pandemic began.

While hospitalization levels are well beålow previous peaks in 2020 and 2021, companies are reporting disruption to services, including at airports.

EasyJet canceled more than 200 flights at the weekend and said around 60 would be canceled on Monday. British Airways also made a small number of cancellations on Sunday and said the issue was affecting airlines and airports in general.

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