COVID-19 live updates: Alberta reports record-high 4,869 cases; ‘Disgusting’ reports of vulnerable community used to get QR codes; EPSB expecting ‘turbulent’ January as students return to school

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

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With COVID-19 news changing every day, we have created this file to keep you up-to-date on all the latest stories and information in and around Edmonton.

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What’s happening now

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Help us tell the COVID-19 story in Edmonton

As Alberta continues to navigate the unpredictable waves of COVID-19, we’re looking to hear your stories on this evolving situation.

  • If you are a healthcare worker, how does the Omicron variant compare with past waves of the pandemic?
  • Did you or someone you love catch Omicron over the holidays? If so, how did you fare?
  • Are you a parent? How do you feel about your child/children returning to in-class learning?
  • Have you had any issues booking/receiving your COVID-19 booster shot? If so, tell us what happened?
  • Have you or a loved one had a surgery rescheduled or cancelled in recent weeks?

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Friday

Moderna CEO says people likely to need another booster in fall of 2022 ‘and forward’

Reuters

Moderna booster shots come in two strengths — full and half doses.
Moderna booster shots come in two strengths — full and half doses. Photo by Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

The efficacy of boosters against COVID-19 is likely to decline over the next few months and people may need another shot in the fall of 2022, Moderna Inc Chief Executive Officer Stephane Bancel said at a Goldman Sachs-organized healthcare conference on Thursday.

Bancel said the company is working on a vaccine candidate tailored to the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, but is unlikely to be available in the next two months.

“I still believe we’re going to need boosters in the fall of ’22 and forward,” Bancel said.

His comments on needing a fourth shot come on the back of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett citing a study on Tuesday that a fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine boosts antibodies five-fold a week after the shot is administered.

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Moderna, which benefits by repeat inoculations, during its third quarter earnings results said commercial booster market sales could be up to $2 billion in the United States in 2022.

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Friday

Production delayed at federal government’s new $126M COVID vaccine plant in Montreal

Ryan Tumilty, National Post

The new vaccine plant at the National Research Council facility in Montreal, on January 6, 2022.
The new vaccine plant at the National Research Council facility in Montreal, on January 6, 2022. Photo by Allen McInnis/Postmedia/File

A $126 million plant in Montreal that the government hoped would be making COVID-19 vaccine by now is not yet up and running.

There is also no clear timeline for when it will start producing vaccines.

Early in the pandemic, the government gave the National Research Council $126 million to build a new Biologics Manufacturing Centre at the NRC’s existing facility in Montreal. It then signed an agreement with Novavax to make its vaccine at the facility.

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The government finished construction of the facility and the set up of vaccine manufacturing equipment in June.

When the deal with Novavax was first announced last February, Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne said he was hopeful the facility would be making vaccines in December.

“We expect by the end of the year to be in a position to be producing vaccines. We’re talking around two million doses a month based on the process and the design we have seen so far,” he said at the time.

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Thursday

Alberta reports record-high 4,869 COVID-19 cases; more than one million booster shots administered

Kellen Taniguchi

A woman walks past a snow-covered car at a pedestrian crossing in Edmonton on Wednesday January 5, 2022. An extreme cold warning issued for the Edmonton region brought temperatures of -30C degrees and wind chill values of -40C degrees to the city, along with icy road conditions. The car is an art installation at Unity Square shopping centre. (PHOTO BY LARRY WONG/POSTMEDIA)
A woman walks past a snow-covered car at a pedestrian crossing in Edmonton on Wednesday January 5, 2022. An extreme cold warning issued for the Edmonton region brought temperatures of -30C degrees and wind chill values of -40C degrees to the city, along with icy road conditions. The car is an art installation at Unity Square shopping centre. (PHOTO BY LARRY WONG/POSTMEDIA)

For the second straight day, Alberta reported a pandemic-high in new COVID-19 cases, as hospitalizations continue to rise.

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The province reported 4,869 cases of the virus on Thursday with a test positivity rate of 39.5 per cent.

Alberta now has 39,897 active cases, an increase of 2,701 from the previous day. The Calgary Zone has 19,261 active cases, while the Edmonton Zone has 14,972.

There are now 498 Albertans in hospital with COVID-19, an increase of 28 from the previous day. Eight fewer patients are in ICU, with 64 currently admitted.

Three additional deaths were reported on Thursday.

Over one million booster doses administered in Alberta

Premier Jason Kenney has continued to encourage Albertans to roll up their sleeves for a booster shot and on Tuesday, he said none of the COVID-19 hospital patients had received a third dose of a vaccine.

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Kenney also said one in three Albertans aged 18 and up have received a booster shot so far.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said more than one million Albertans have received their third dose and even more Albertans should get the extra layer of protection.

“We know that the third dose of vaccine strengthens protection against both infection and severe outcomes from the Omicron variant,” said Hinshaw in a Thursday news release.

“I believe it is critical to use every tool at our disposal right now to protect the people and system we rely on to take care of us when we are sick. Reaching one million booster doses is a good start. I hope to see many more Albertans get their third dose as soon as possible.”

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Thursday

Reports of vulnerable community used to get QR vaccine codes ‘disgusting’: Boyle McCauley

Anna Junker

A health worker prepares a dose of the Covishield AstraZeneca-Oxford’s COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine at a vaccination centre in Karachi on May 20, 2021.
A health worker prepares a dose of the Covishield AstraZeneca-Oxford’s COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine at a vaccination centre in Karachi on May 20, 2021. Photo by ASIF HASSAN /AFP via Getty Images

Allegations that Edmonton’s vulnerable population is being offered money to receive a COVID-19 vaccination using a false identity are “disgusting,” the executive director of an inner-city health clinic says.

Reports surfaced this week that members of the city’s vulnerable population were allegedly getting vaccinated so those who do not want to receive a vaccine are then provided with a QR code as proof of vaccination. There were also reports one person could get multiple vaccinations.

“As someone who obviously leads an organization that’s responsible for providing supports and services to Edmonton’s vulnerable population and in the health care and social service realm, frankly, I find this rather disgusting that someone would exploit vulnerable individuals in this way,” said Tricia Smith, executive director of Boyle McCauley Health Services.

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Smith said there are layered health risks to these individuals getting the vaccine. While vaccines are safe, there are specific recommendations for how many doses one can receive and within a certain timeframe.

If there’s an individual who is already fully vaccinated themselves, and then is offered this type of funding, money, or whatever they might be offered to get an additional dose, they could be getting more doses than is considered safe for them,” she said.

“If the vulnerable individual who’s being approached doesn’t already have vaccine or maybe just one dose of vaccine, their own health record will not show that they’ve been vaccinated. And so now in order for their record to show and for them to have proof of vaccine to access public spaces, they now have to choose to get additional doses in order for their vaccine record to show that they’ve been vaccinated.”

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Thursday

Edmonton Public board chair expecting ‘turbulent’ January as students return to school, asks government for better data

Ashley Joannou

Edmonton Public Schools board chairwoman Trisha Estabrooks on Dec. 7, 2021 in Edmonton.
Edmonton Public Schools board chairwoman Trisha Estabrooks on Dec. 7, 2021 in Edmonton. Photo by Greg Southam /Postmedia

Edmonton Public School Board trustees have published an open letter to the Alberta government calling for better access to data and clear metrics on when classes or schools should be transitioning to online learning amid the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

The letter, published days before students are slated to return to in-person classes Jan. 10 , also asks that schools be considered “high-risk” settings which would mean Alberta Health Services could continue to notify schools when a positive test happens.

At a press conference Thursday, board chairwoman Trisha Estabrooks said she is expecting “a very turbulent time” in schools, with increased staff absences, at least for the month of January.

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“We need good data in order to make good decisions about shifting classes or making the request to shift entire schools online. Right now, we do not have access to that good data,” she said.

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In earlier waves of the pandemic, three cases within five days was the benchmark for moving classes online, Estabrooks said. She expects that won’t continue now that the province has limited who has access to a PCR test and is asking the public to use rapid tests and isolate at home when they have symptoms.

“But what will continue? And that’s some of the questions that we have for the minister,” she said.

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange’s office did not respond to questions by deadline Thursday evening.

Estabrooks said it’s unclear how schools will be informed if a student tests positive for COVID-19 on a rapid test.

“Are principals going to be having to collect that data and then pass it on to AHS? We don’t have clarity on that yet. What I will say is that staff in our schools are working as hard as possible and to add another task, like collecting rapid test data, that’s going to be challenging,” she said.

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“All that being said, we need access to data.”

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Thursday

Albertans raise concerns that Pfizer COVID-19 appointments are being cancelled over supply issues

Dylan Short, Calgary

A vial and syringe are seen in front of a displayed Pfizer and Biontech logo in this illustration taken Jan. 11, 2021. The vaccine presents a “significant opportunity” to make profits after the pandemic is over, executive says.
A vial and syringe are seen in front of a displayed Pfizer and Biontech logo in this illustration taken Jan. 11, 2021. The vaccine presents a “significant opportunity” to make profits after the pandemic is over, executive says. Photo by Dado Ruvic / Reuters

Albertans are voicing concerns over limited booking slots and cancelled appointments as they attempt to get a booster shot of COVID-19 vaccine.

The provincial push to get Albertans their third shot of vaccine has been amplified as latest data show it is the most effective protection against the Omicron variant spreading rapidly in Alberta.

However, several people say that doing so is proving difficult, particularly when trying to get a dose of Pfizer. Alexis George said she booked an appointment for herself when they became available to anyone over the age 50, and booked an appointment for her daughter as soon as they were made available to anyone over the age of 18 in late December. She said they were both supposed to get the shot on Thursday but received a phone call telling them their appointment had been cancelled.

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“Safeway pharmacy at West Hills called me and left a message saying they didn’t get their shipment in and they had to cancel all of today’s appointments. So I went online to try to book again and I couldn’t get anything until like mid-March,” said George.

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Thursday

‘Never had this many cases’: Nunavut changes COVID-19 testing approach

The Canadian Press

Covid 19 indian strain. Coronavirus mutation. 3d illustration of delta variant covid-19 on red background.
Covid 19 indian strain. Coronavirus mutation. 3d illustration of delta variant covid-19 on red background. Photo by Lazy_Bear /Getty Images/iStockphoto

Nunavut will no longer offer lab-confirmed testing for communities with COVID-19 to free up health-care resources.

Chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson said that means Nunavut’s case counts will no longer reflect the total number of infections.

Laboratory PCR tests will only be used to confirm COVID-19 in communities without previous cases and for people and staff in high-risk settings, including long-term care and front-line health workers.

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Patterson said rapid testing will be used in the territory and shipments of the kits are to arrive in Nunavut in the coming days.

“This necessary change will reduce the risk that our health system will be overwhelmed, which will put Nunavummiut with other health conditions at risk,” he said.

Patterson added that once there is COVID-19 in a household with multiple residents, all members of that household who have symptoms will be assumed to have COVID-19.

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Thursday

Erin O’Toole urges accommodations for unvaccinated Canadians amid Omicron wave

The Canadian Press

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020
Conservative leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020 Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Canadians unwilling to be vaccinated against COVID-19 should be accommodated through measures like rapid testing, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said Thursday as health experts warned the lightning-fast spread of the Omicron variant threatens to overwhelm hospitals.

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Ontario is reporting an uptick in hospitalizations and days ago made the decision to keep school-aged kids learning from home for at least two weeks, which Doug Ford’s government said was to take pressure off the health-care system.

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said of the 319 patients in intensive care, 232 of them are not fully immunized against COVID-19 or have an unknown status, while 87 are double-vaccinated.

With millions of Canadians once again living under sweeping public health restrictions that have shuttered businesses and forced families to stay home, O’Toole blamed the federal Liberal government. With more than 75 per cent of the country’s population now fully vaccinated, he said the government has failed to keep society open through tools such as making rapid antigen tests more widely available, or by ensuring there’s a homegrown supply of personal protective equipment.

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Thursday

3 airlines won’t carry ‘idiot’ Quebecers who partied on way to Cancun

The Canadian Press

Transport Canada says passengers who violated the regulations could face fines of up to $5,000 per offence.
Transport Canada says passengers who violated the regulations could face fines of up to $5,000 per offence. Photo by Instagram

Passengers who filmed themselves partying maskless aboard a chartered Sunwing Airlines flight from Montreal to Mexico last week have become pariahs and now face being stranded after two more airlines announced Wednesday they will not fly them home to Canada.

Following Sunwing’s cancellation of the return charter flight from Cancun scheduled for Wednesday, Air Transat and Air Canada both said they will refuse to carry the passengers, who were called “idiots” Wednesday by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Air Transat said on Twitter the “disruptive passengers” from the Sunwing flight had been trying to return home on its flights, but they were denied boarding based on the company’s obligation to ensure passenger and crew safety.

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Air Canada issued a statement saying that “to the extent that we can identify the passengers who were part of the group, Air Canada is denying boarding to ensure the safety of other passengers and its crew.”

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Thursday

Got Omicron? These COVID-19 symptoms are signs you should get to a hospital

Sharon Kirkey, National Post

Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital.
Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital. Photo by Peter J Thompson /National Post

Emergency rooms are seeing high numbers of people with symptoms of COVID, but doctors say most won’t end up needing to be in hospital.

Most people with a COVID infection can recover at home. “If you are otherwise healthy and vaccinated, this will likely be a relatively minor illness and nuisance for you: from almost no symptoms, to a cold, to something that is more achy in nature,” Toronto infectious diseases physician Dr. Andrew Morris writes in a recent issue of his COVID newsletter .

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With Omicron, the most common mild symptoms include a fever (38 degrees Celsius or higher), cough, congestion, muscle aches or tiredness, headache and sore throat. Loss of taste and smell seems less common this time around than with earlier variants. Doctors recommend rest, staying hydrated, and taking over-the-counter acetaminophen or ibuprofen for fever and aches if needed.

Older people with other medical conditions like obesity, lung or liver disease or diabetes, as well as the immunocompromised may benefit from early treatment to prevent them from getting sicker or needing hospitalization, “so getting a diagnosis is important, and you should seek medical attention,” Morris wrote. Treatment options for people at increased risk include budesonide, an inhaled steroid and commonly used asthma drug, the anti-depressant fluvoxamine that also has anti-inflammatory properties and an IV infusion of monoclonal antibodies that can prevent mild and moderate COVID from becoming severe, though there are some shortages.

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When should you go to the hospital? If you feel any distress, go to the nearest emergency department or call 911. Signs of trouble include difficulty breathing when you stand up or move around, chest pain or pressure, feeling gradually more unwell or breathless, shaking or shivering, loss of appetite, dizziness, collapsing or fainting, or feeling so sick you can’t care for yourself.

Other symptoms to watch for: a significant or worsening cough, confusion, extreme sleepiness and low oxygen levels. Oxygen level in the blood — oxygen saturation — can be measured using a pulse oximeter, a small device that clips to a finger. One of the triggers for going to hospital is when levels drop to 92 per cent in an otherwise healthy person.

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Thursday

‘It’s a crisis’: Canadian hospitals closing, cancelling surgeries amid COVID-related staff shortages

Tyler Dawson, National Post

Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton is among the medical facilities throughout Canada that have had to reduce available beds or even close due to a shortage of staff.
Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton is among the medical facilities throughout Canada that have had to reduce available beds or even close due to a shortage of staff. Photo by Ed Kaiser/Postmedia

Mackenzie, British Columbia, is at the end of Highway 39, which runs north from Prince George. It’s a two-hour drive between the two.

And, on 16 separate occasions in December, the emergency room at Mackenzie’s hospital had to close — sometimes for a few hours; once, for a full 24 hours. There simply weren’t enough staff to keep the doors open.

It meant, said Mayor Joan Atkinson, anyone who needed care had to get in the car — or call an ambulance — and drive the 180 kilometres to Prince George.

“We have a full complement of doctors here, but we don’t have enough nurses and so when that happens we don’t have as many nurses as we need to have our emergency room opened, then that emergency room will close,” Atkinson said.

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“It has been a huge concern, but unfortunately one that we share with many, many other communities.”

Even at the best of times, staffing shortages have put a strain on medical care in small and remote municipalities. In Mackenzie, all COVID patients are already sent to Prince George, and the pandemic isn’t to blame for the community’s lack of services, Atkinson said.

But, in other areas, in big and small cities across the country, the pandemic has intensified staffing shortages to the extent that, in some cases, governments have had to back down on vaccine mandates for health-care workers in order to keep the doors open.

“In rural Alberta, it’s a crisis,” said Heather Smith, president of the United Nurses of Alberta. She said some of her staff are working 16-hour days — double the usual eight.”

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Thursday

‘It’s making people really sick in a different way’: How Omicron affects hospital patients

Sharon Kirkey, National Post

COVID cases coming into hospital emergency rooms range from those with mild symptoms who are worried and want to be tested, up to those with seriously “robust” pneumonias, a Toronto doctor says.
COVID cases coming into hospital emergency rooms range from those with mild symptoms who are worried and want to be tested, up to those with seriously “robust” pneumonias, a Toronto doctor says. Photo by Chris Young/The Canadian Press

Some Canadian emergency rooms are being walloped by “ridiculous” numbers of people with suspected or confirmed COVID, with symptoms ranging from what essentially resembles a mild cold to, in the unvaccinated and vulnerable, severe COVID pneumonias, frontline doctors are reporting.

Some are arriving in hospital with minimal symptoms, driven there instead by anxiety or a desire to confirm their COVID status, and with having had no clearly communicated advice on what to do if they do get COVID.

“We are still catastrophizing COVID,” said Dr. Martha Fulford, an infectious diseases specialist and chief of medicine at the McMaster University Medical Center. “We have somehow made when you have a positive result equal disaster in a lot of people’s minds.”

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“The emotion and fear are so overwhelming. It’s very difficult to try to break through this,” Fulford said.

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Letter of the day

Hockey fan wears masks at restaurants, Costco and Oilers games. (Cartoon by Malcolm Mayes)
Hockey fan wears masks at restaurants, Costco and Oilers games. (Cartoon by Malcolm Mayes) Malcolm Mayes

Checking QR codes isn’t enough

Everyone is wondering how Omicron and others can be spreading with all our precautions. I heard my sister say, it is great; we can go to dinner and not be worried because everyone is vaccinated. Here is the ridiculous part. No one is asking if you are sick when you enter places. No one is taking temperatures when you enter, like we were before.

I was at one of the casinos the other day and I heard people coughing and sneezing. So basically, as long as you have the QR code you can go anywhere. You could have a cold, a flu, the measles, mumps, TB, or even Ebola. As long as you have the QR code you are good to go. Does this make sense?

Terence Bachor, Spruce Grove

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Letters Welcome

We invite you to write letters to the editor. A maximum of 150 words is preferred. Letters must carry a first and last name, or two initials and a last name, and include an address and daytime telephone number. All letters are subject to editing. We don’t publish letters addressed to others or sent to other publications. Email: letters@edmontonjournal.com


Wednesday

K-12 students set to return to the classroom on Monday; Alberta reports record-high case and positivity rate

Kellen Taniguchi

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange. File photo.
Education Minister Adriana LaGrange. File photo. Photo by Ian Kucerak /Postmedia

Alberta’s education minister and top doctor said the province plans to go forward with a return to school for K-12 students on Monday, as pandemic-highs in new cases and test positivity were reported on Wednesday.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, announced 4,752 new cases of COVID-19 and a test positivity rate of 36.9 per cent — both pandemic records in the province. The actual number of positive cases is likely higher with unreported rapid tests being used across Alberta.

There are now 37,196 active cases in Alberta, an increase of 2,920 cases from the previous day.

The number of Albertans in hospital and intensive care units with COVID-19 also increased on Wednesday with 470 people in hospital, an increase of 34 from the previous day, and 72 in ICU, an increase of 11.

An additional 11 deaths were also reported.

K-12 students returning to the classroom on Monday

During Wednesday’s COVID-19 update, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said students will return to school on Monday as planned.

Last week, LaGrange pushed the return to school in Alberta forward a week to Jan. 10 to give school boards and the government extra time to plan.

The government has already promised 8.6 million rapid at-home tests and 16.5 million medical-grade masks to students and teachers. LaGrange said the government will begin distributing shipments of rapid tests and masks later this week and all schools will have their first shipment by the end of next week.

“This is on top of the many significant health measures schools already have in place, such as vaccine policies for staff, masking, distancing and enhanced cleaning measures,” said LaGrange.

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Wednesday

Edmonton police facing staffing challenges with 100 employees positive with COVID-19, 194 in isolation

Dustin Cook

Edmonton Police Service cruiser.
Edmonton Police Service cruiser. Photo by File photo

Edmonton’s police service is facing staffing challenges amid the rapid spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant with 194 personnel currently in isolation.

In a statement to Postmedia Wednesday afternoon, EPS spokeswoman Landis Reichle said of the employees currently in isolation, 100 are positive with COVID-19. This includes 77 sworn members, 22 civilians and one contract worker. There are 151 sworn members currently in isolation, amounting to about eight per cent of staff.

With the rapid spread of the virus, Reichle said the increase in isolation has challenged the service but it continues to adjust to ensure front-line services can be maintained.

“Our increased isolations have challenged our organization, but we are continuing to assess and adjust our staffing as required to maintain frontline service delivery. We truly appreciate the hard work of all our employees as we navigate through this new wave of challenges,” Reichle said in the statement. “With the rise of positive cases in Alberta, the EPS continues to reinforce and evolve its duty protocols for the safety of EPS employees and the public to mitigate COVID-19 impacts on our employees and our service delivery.”

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Wednesday

Top doctor says Nunavut’s COVID-19 outbreak ‘testing the limits’ of capacity

The Canadian Press

The coronavirus COVID-19.
The coronavirus COVID-19. Photo by Maksim Tkachenko /Getty Images

Cases of COVID-19 continue to rise across Nunavut, with confirmed or presumptive cases in 14 of the territory’s 25 communities.

There are 231 active cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut, mostly in Iqaluit, Arviat and Rankin Inlet.

Five Nunavut elders have also tested positive for COVID-19 at Embassy West Senior Living Facility in Ottawa.

A news release from Nunavut’s health department says it’s the first COVID-19 outbreak the facility has had since the pandemic began.

The cases in Nunavut are the most widespread outbreak in the territory to date, with COVID-19 cases rising in many of its small communities.

Nunavut has been in lockdown since Dec. 24 and Nunavut’s chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson says the outbreak is testing the territory’s health-care limits.

“Managing this many simultaneous outbreaks is testing the limits of our capacity. It’s vital all Nunavummiut remain calm, kind, patient and committed to the public health measures in place,” Patterson said in a news release.

“On behalf of health-care staff in all our communities, please help us manage this wave and allow us to prioritize those who need help the most.”


Wednesday

Yukon shortening COVID isolation, schools remain open for in-person learning

The Canadian Press

SARS-CoV-2, also known as the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S.
SARS-CoV-2, also known as the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S. Reuters, file

Yukon’s acting top doctor is advising the territory’s residents that if they have symptoms of COVID-19, they should assume they have the virus without getting tested.

Dr. Catherine Elliott said Wednesday just under 5,000 rapid tests are currently available and those are needed for people who are considered high risk or have chronic health conditions.

“When a disease is mild in most people and highly transmissible, it results in many cases in the population,” she said. “People with strong immunity don’t need a test. They just need to slow down, stay home and take care of themselves for seven days.”

Premier Sandy Silver said Yukon will be getting about 100,000 of the 140 million rapid tests the federal government plans to ship to provinces and territories this month.

Elliott said more information will be released in the next few days on how people can access the test kits.

“These have been and are being used to limit spread and outbreaks in settings where there’s high risk of spread,” added Elliott.

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Wednesday

Provinces to receive 140 million rapid tests this month, Trudeau says

Ryan Tumilty, National Post

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference in Ottawa on, Dec. 15.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference in Ottawa on, Dec. 15. Photo by David Kawai /Bloomberg

The federal government will ship 140 million rapid COVID tests to provinces this month, as the prime minister encouraged Canadians to hunker down for the next few months to get past an Omicron wave of COVID-19.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the new rapid tests would be going to provinces this month, roughly four times what the government shipped to province in January.

He said he shared the frustration of parents in many parts of the country who are returning to virtual school and seeing new lockdowns. He said there is no “magic bullet” to deal with this latest wave.

“I understand people are frustrated but I also know that we know how to get through this,” he said. “We know because we’ve seen it before. When waves have hit like this Omicron wave has hit, we have to hunker down, we have to pull together and it gets better.”

Trudeau said people should get vaccinated if they haven’t been already and should wear masks when outside and stay home when they’re sick.

“We’re looking at a better spring as long as we all keep doing our part.”

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Wednesday

Conner McDavid, Derek Ryan, Tyson Barrie all to COVID protocol as struggling Oilers close out road trip

Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey

Connor McDavid (97) of the Edmonton Oilers faces off with Ryan Strome (16) of the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Monday, Jan. 03, 2022, in New York City.
Connor McDavid (97) of the Edmonton Oilers faces off with Ryan Strome (16) of the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Monday, Jan. 03, 2022, in New York City. Photo by Bruce Bennett /Getty Images

Bad just got worse for Edmonton Oilers in a big way, with confirmation that  Connor McDavid and two other regulars have formally been placed under COVID protocol.

The status of McDavid and Derek Ryan was under question yesterday wwhen both were reported to have positive tests. Add the name of Tyson Barrie this morning, leaving the Oilers woefully short-staffed as they close out a dismal 5-game road trip in Toronto.

Some good news for Edmonton as Mike Smith and Zack Kassian will make their returns. Smith has been sidelined the last two games with a minor injury, while Kassian has missed the entire road trip after himself being under COVID protocol.

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