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Albertans rally to support public health-care system after Yiu’s departure as AHS president
The removal of Alberta Health Services’ president and CEO has sparked renewed concerns about the UCP government’s plans to shift more services to private providers.
In Edmonton, about 75 people including public health care advocates, doctors, NDP MLAs and union leaders gathered at the steps of the legislature to show support for public health care Wednesday while protesters gathered at McDougall Centre in Calgary.
The rallies, organized by the group Protect our Province, came after AHS announced Monday Dr. Verna Yiu was out as president and CEO. Edmonton’s rally saw one attendee with a sign declaring “we want Yiu back.”
Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) president Mike Parker said at the demonstration the UCP appears “hell-bent” on privatizing health care.
COVID-19 fourth doses expanded as Alberta approaches another virus wave
As new wastewater and case data suggest Alberta is heading into another wave of COVID-19 infections, the province is expanding access to fourth shots of vaccination against the virus.
Starting April 12, all Albertans age 70 and older will be able to get a fourth dose of vaccine if at least five months have passed since their previous shot.
The expanded eligibility also includes First Nations, Métis and Inuit people age 65 and older and all seniors in congregate care settings, regardless of age.
The news comes as the province reported a jump in virus hospitalizations and 30 deaths over the past week, as test positivity rates remain high.
Alberta reports 5,549 new cases, 30 deaths over seven days
Here are COVID-19 numbers released today by Alberta Health, covering a seven-day period from March 29 to April 4:
- The province is reporting 5,549 new COVID-19 cases over seven days, through 21,314 tests completed.
- There are 990 people in hospital with COVID-19, an increase of 26 since March 30. There are 44 people in ICU, a decrease of three since March 30.
- There were another 30 COVID-related deaths reported to Alberta Health Services, bringing the total to 4,104 since the start of the pandemic. There have been 789 deaths reported in Alberta since Jan. 1.
- Alberta’s two-dose vaccination rate for the population age 12 and over is 86.7 per cent.
Hospitalizations stall at just under 1,000 in Alberta
‘So many bodies piled up’: Hong Kong funeral services overwhelmed by COVID victims
The number of traditional wooden coffins are in short supply in Hong Kong as authorities scramble to add mortuary space in the financial hub’s battle on COVID-19, which is swamping funeral parlours.
“I have never seen so many bodies piled up together,” said funeral director Lok Chung, 37, who has been working round the clock, with about 40 funerals organized in March, up from roughly 15 in an average month.
“I have never seen family members so upset, so disappointed, so helpless,” said Chung, wearing a sober grey suit with a black polo T-shirt.
Since the fifth wave of coronavirus hit this year, Hong Kong has reported more than a million infections and more than 8,000 deaths.
Calls to health line reveal desperation of Quebec care home owners as COVID hit
Newly released recordings of phone calls to a Quebec government-run health line in 2020 reveal how desperate the owners of a long-term care home were during the pandemic’s first wave.
The pair of recordings from the owners of the Herron private care home, where 47 people died in spring 2020, were entered into evidence for the coroner’s inquest that is investigating COVID-19 deaths in the province.
In the recordings published today by La Presse, a panicked Samantha Chowieri and her husband call twice to the non-urgent health line, telling a nurse they are seeking a mass testing of residents.
Experts worry COVID messaging may hinder fourth-dose uptake
Some experts worry government messaging about the state of the COVID-19 pandemic may stymie uptake of fourth vaccine doses.
Eligibility for fourth doses is expanding in some provinces after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended people 70 and over get a second booster.
Ontario is opening up fourth-dose appointments for residents 60 and older starting Thursday, while Quebec will do the same next week and several other provinces are making the shots available to older demographics.
Quebec health director warns people will die if state of emergency immediately lifted
Ending Quebec’s state of emergency on Thursday would be the equivalent of killing people, the province’s interim-director of public health warned on Wednesday.
Dr. Luc Boileau made the observation while testifying before a legislative committee in favour of Bill 28, which would prolong certain emergency powers the government has enjoyed for the past two years until Dec. 31, 2022.
The government needs those powers to maintain the efficiency of the province’s heath-care system, Boileau said.
‘COVID is not a cold’: Germany reverses course on ending mandatory isolation
Germany will not end mandatory isolation for most people who catch COVID-19, the health minister said on Wednesday, reversing course after concerns were raised that lifting quarantine restrictions would suggest the pandemic was over.
“Coronavirus is not a cold. That is why there must continue to be isolation after an infection,” Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said on Twitter, adding he had made a mistake by suggesting an end to mandatory quarantine.
Under the existing rules, people with COVID must isolate for at least seven days. Lauterbach suggested last week a shift to a voluntary five-day period of self-isolation with the recommendation of a COVID test at the end of that time.