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COVID-19 Live Updates: News on coronavirus in Calgary for Feb. 3

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

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Help us tell the COVID-19 story in Calgary

Just when it seemed like things were getting back to normal, Omicron has changed everything. We’d like to hear from you on this latest wave of the virus.

  • If you are a health care worker, how does Omicron compare with past COVID-19 waves?
  • How have you coped with testing requirements and rapid test kits?
  • Is your employer or school asking for a written doctor’s note in place of a provincial PCR test?
  • Are you having a difficult time proving you had COVID-19?

Contact us by sending an email to reply@calgaryherald.com or send your comments via this form.


Wednesday

Protesters at Coutts clear two lanes, but RCMP caution cross-border traffic still limited

An agreement between truckers and RCMP saw one lane of traffic opened both ways at the Coutts border crossing on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022.
An agreement between truckers and RCMP saw one lane of traffic opened both ways at the Coutts border crossing on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022. Photo by Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

Trucks and other vehicles in an illegal blockade at Coutts have cleared one northbound and one southbound lane, allowing traffic to move through the area for the first time since Saturday.

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But RCMP Cpl. Curtis Peters cautioned access to cross-border travel is still limited, with the open lanes mainly allowing additional access to the Village of Coutts and for border employees.

“We still don’t want to have motorists attending at this point in time. It’s still heavily congested and difficult to navigate through,” Peters told Postmedia Wednesday.

The blockade, now in its fifth day, is a protest against COVID-19 health measures. The last several trucks blocking Highway 4 had moved as of 2:30 p.m. and traffic was able to proceed through the open lanes, though a long line of vehicles remained pointed toward the port of entry.

Read more.


Wednesday

Calgary truck convoy organizer promises no disruption to hospitals Saturday

An agreement between truckers and RCMP saw one lane of traffic opened both ways at the Coutts border crossing on Wednesday, February 2, 2022.
An agreement between truckers and RCMP saw one lane of traffic opened both ways at the Coutts border crossing on Wednesday, February 2, 2022. Photo by Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

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The organizer of a planned truck convoy in Calgary said protesters are willing to work with police and keep emergency lanes open after rescheduling the planned demonstration for Saturday.

Diane Inkin is a member of Canada Unity, an online forum and discussion group affiliated with the truck convoys at the Coutts border crossing and in Ottawa.

Inkin told Postmedia she started organizing the protest in Calgary to show support for protesters in Coutts Tuesday evening. It was rescheduled to allow more time to organize, and because temperatures plunged to -20 C in Calgary, she said.

Read more.


Wednesday

‘That’s $44 million per day’: Coutts border blockade slams Alberta economy and trade

An agreement between truckers and RCMP saw one lane of traffic opened each way at the Coutts border crossing on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022.
An agreement between truckers and RCMP saw one lane of traffic opened each way at the Coutts border crossing on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022. Photo by Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

The cost of the Coutts blockade is already starting to add up for the Alberta economy as the now-illegal protest hits five days.

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David MacLean, the vice president of the Alberta and Saskatchewan division of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, said between 800 and 1,200 trucks cross at the Coutts-Sweetgrass entry every day.

“We know the impact is huge,” he said. “$15.9 billion in two-way trade a year at that single crossing, that’s $44 million per day. Roughly speaking, we export by the Coutts border crossing almost as much as we import.”

Read more.


Wednesday

Free rapid test kits available at some Calgary pharmacies as shipments received from Alberta Health

Steele Grasza holds the COVID-19 test kits he has picked up at Northwest Pharmacy on Monday, December 20, 2021.
Steele Grasza holds the COVID-19 test kits he has picked up at Northwest Pharmacy on Monday, December 20, 2021. Photo by Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

As some local pharmacies receive fresh shipments of rapid antigen test kits from Alberta Health, Calgarians have been quickly picking them up.

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced Tuesday the distribution of 3.1 million rapid tests to pharmacies in Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer, First Nations communities and Alberta Health Services locations had begun this week.

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Almost immediately after the Tuesday afternoon press conference, the phone at Pharmacy Care — located along 20 Avenue S.E. — started ringing, according to owners Ali and Randa Zgheib. People started calling their nearest pharmacies to inquire about their supply of kits.

Read more.


Wednesday

Alberta reports 3,024 new cases, 14 deaths

Here are updated COVID-19 numbers released by Alberta Health Services this afternoon.

  • There have been 3,024 new COVID-19 cases reported since yesterday.
  • Fourteen deaths attributed to COVID-19 have been reported to AHS over that period. The provincial total is now 3,593 since the start of the pandemic.
  • Alberta has reported 24,590 cases of Omicron to date, including 12,257 in the Calgary zone.
  • There are 1,598 people in hospital with COVID-19, an increase of 13 since yesterday. There are 106 people in ICU, a decrease of three since yesterday.
  • There are a reported 34,877 active COVID cases in the province, a decrease of 445 since yesterday. There are a reported 14,306 active cases in the Calgary zone, a decrease of 271 since yesterday.
  • The province completed 7,643 tests on Feb. 1. Alberta currently has a positivity rate of 36.3 per cent.

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Wednesday

Outbreaks reported at all five Calgary hospitals


Wednesday

Lockdowns only reduced COVID deaths by 0.2 per cent, Johns Hopkins study finds

In both Europe and the United States, researchers found that a lockdown could only be expected to bring down mortality rates by 0.2 per cent “as compared to a COVID-19 policy based solely on recommendations.”
In both Europe and the United States, researchers found that a lockdown could only be expected to bring down mortality rates by 0.2 per cent “as compared to a COVID-19 policy based solely on recommendations.” Photo by PETER J. THOMPSON/NATIONAL POST

A new study out of Johns Hopkins University is claiming that worldwide pandemic lockdowns only prevented 0.2 per cent of COVID-19 deaths and were “not an effective way of reducing mortality rates during a pandemic.”

“We find no evidence that lockdowns, school closures, border closures, and limiting gatherings have had a noticeable effect on COVID-19 mortality,” reads the paper, which is based on a review of 34 pre-existing COVID-19 studies.

Given the “devastating effects” that lockdowns have caused, the authors recommended they be “rejected out of hand as a pandemic policy instrument.”

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In both Europe and the United States, researchers found that a lockdown could only be expected to bring down mortality rates by 0.2 per cent “as compared to a COVID-19 policy based solely on recommendations.” For context, 0.2 per cent of total Canadian COVID-19 fatalities thus far is equal to about 70 people.

The impact of border closures was found to be even less effective, with death rates only going down about 0.1 per cent.

Read more.


Wednesday

U of A students ‘furious’ with quality of school’s online courses, students’ union says

University of Alberta Students’ Union president Rowan Ley talks on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022, about a virtual meeting planned for Thursday about how disappointed students are with virtual learning at the university.
University of Alberta Students’ Union president Rowan Ley talks on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022, about a virtual meeting planned for Thursday about how disappointed students are with virtual learning at the university. Photo by Greg Southam /Postmedia

Students at the University of Alberta are “furious” with the school’s failure to meet basic standards for online courses, said the university’s students’ union.

The president of the University of Alberta Students’ Union said students accept that they need to be online right now due to the Omicron variant, however, he said students do not accept the “incredibly poor quality” of online learning they are currently receiving.

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“There is no reason that after two years, the university is still not able to do things like oversee the use of invasive online proctoring tools,” said students’ union president Rowan Ley.

“Students generally feel they have not gotten what they have paid for, they have gotten an online education that is substantially worse than it had to be, and they’re upset and frustrated and demanding the university to do something about it.”

Read more.


Wednesday

Edmonton defence lawyer unsuccessfully objects to requirement jurors be vaccinated

A jury box in an Edmonton courtroom.
A jury box in an Edmonton courtroom. Ed Kaiser/Postmedia

Excluding unvaccinated people from serving on a jury did not undermine an Edmonton man’s right to a fair trial, a judge has ruled.

Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Avril Inglis on Tuesday shot down a defence lawyer’s bid for a mistrial in the case of Daniel Eserjose, who faces trial on a charge of sexual assault.

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Rory Ziv, Eserjose’s lawyer, learned just before trial that the court had dismissed anyone from the jury pool who had not received at least two doses of COVID-19 vaccine. In an eleventh-hour bid for an adjournment or a mistrial, Ziv argued he had not received proper notice, and that the court had no authority “for the broad exclusion of potential jurors who are unvaccinated.”

Read more.


Wednesday

CMA, activists call on Canada to speed vaccine access globally to stop new variants

A teenager gets his first jab of a COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 15, 2021 in Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe.
A teenager gets his first jab of a COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 15, 2021 in Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe. Photo by Tafadzwa Ufumeli/Getty Images

The Canadian Medical Association and a group of domestic and international activists are calling on the federal government to do more to boost COVID-19 vaccination efforts in less developed countries in order to end the pandemic.

Raising the international vaccination rate in less prosperous countries is the only way to prevent the emergence of new COVID-19 variants that are prolonging the pandemic through an endless cycle of lockdowns and serious illness, said Dr. Katharine Smart, the president of the leading association of Canadian medical professionals.

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“Without taking this perspective, we will continue to find ourselves in a perpetual cycle of pandemic management, with new variants and mutations developing in countries where vaccine rates remain low,” Smart said today.

Read more.


Wednesday

‘Illegal activity will not be tolerated’: Ottawa police arrest three after demonstration-related investigations

Police keep an eye on protesters gathered around Parliament Hill and Ottawa’s downtown core for the Freedom Convoy protest on Sunday January 30, 2022.
Police keep an eye on protesters gathered around Parliament Hill and Ottawa’s downtown core for the Freedom Convoy protest on Sunday January 30, 2022. Photo by Ashley Fraser/Postmedia

Ottawa police say they have arrested three men after investigations related to protest against public health restrictions in the capital city, while organizers of the convoy are threatening to stay “for as long as it takes” for governments across the country to end COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Police say 37-year-old Andre Lacasse was charged on Sunday with carrying a weapon to a public meeting, while 29-year-old Matthew Dorken was charged Tuesday with mischief under $5,000.

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On Wednesday police said they charged a 48-year-old man from Quebec with uttering threats and counselling to commit an indictable offence not committed. The charges relate to threats and comments made on social media while in Ottawa, police said.

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Wednesday

These doctors and COVID-19 experts are pushing for quicker return to pre-pandemic normal

Dr. Kwadwo Kyeremanteng of Ottawa is among the leaders of a U.S. group pushing to end COVID restrictions.
Dr. Kwadwo Kyeremanteng of Ottawa is among the leaders of a U.S. group pushing to end COVID restrictions. Photo by Julie Oliver/Postmedia

A controversial new U.S.-based group — the Urgency of Normal — is pushing for a rapid return to unrestricted in-person learning for children, whom they argue have suffered unduly because of pandemic lockdowns.

The organization’s 400 or so signatories include 33 Canadian physicians and health-care professionals, among them four infectious disease or medical microbiology specialists, emergency medicine doctors, university professors and a hospital chief of medicine.

Fringe groups of physicians have popped up throughout the pandemic, denying the virus’s seriousness, advocating for discredited anti-viral drugs and spreading misinformation about vaccines.

The Canadian MDs backing the Urgency of Normal, while still likely in the minority, are different: Those interviewed by the National Post tout the power of COVID vaccines, have been on the pandemic’s front lines and voice respect for the science.

Read more.

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