Alberta doctors say more restrictions needed to reduce spread of COVID-19

Several doctors from Calgary and Edmonton say public health restrictions introduced by the Alberta government will not be enough to reduce spread of COVID-19 during the province’s third wave.

Premier Jason Kenney brought back tougher restrictions Tuesday that include shutting down indoor dining in restaurants and reducing retail capacity.

Read more: Alberta shuts down indoor dining, group fitness amid surging 3rd wave COVID-19, variant cases

Dr. James Talbot, co-chair of the COVID-19 committee with the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association, says those measures won’t reduce the stress on hospitals and intensive care units.

Read more: Alberta investigating 2 separate COVID-19 outbreaks involving P.1 variants

Another expert, Dr. Gosia Gasperowicz with the University of Calgary, says cases related to the more contagious variants are doubling every week.

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She says cases during the second wave in the fall were doubling every two and a half weeks.

Gasperowicz says it would take a shutdown similar to one last spring to start bending the curve downward.

Read more: COVID-19 variants reducing hospital capacity, increasing ER wait times: Alberta doctor

Dr. Shazma Mithani, an emergency physician in Edmonton and a member of the Calgary and Area Medical Staff Society/Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association, agrees.

“Our group of doctors is calling for a circuit-breaker or full lockdown for a period of several weeks in order to bend the curve effectively but also bring community transmission down significantly,” she said Wednesday.

“Close all non-essential services, encourage people to stay at home, only have contact with their household or their designated cohort, to limit exercise to only outdoors, no indoor exercise, no in-person dining — whether that’s indoors or on patios — and also have increased enforcement from AHS.”

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She said the graphs the premier displayed during his update on Tuesday showed how effective stricter health measures were in curbing rising case numbers during the second wave in mid-December.

“Those visual graphs are a great way to illustrate that weaker measures don’t do as much when we’re in an exponential growth phase. We need strong measures in those situations to prevent a higher peak from happening and also to start declining the cases rapidly,” Mithani said.

“The difference between the second wave and this wave, however, is the variants of concern. We’re already seeing the slope of that rise… is much more rapid and that’s all driven by the variants of concern.”

— With files from Emily Mertz, Global News

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© 2021 The Canadian Press

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