Alberta doctors say inconsistent public health messages could be behind spike in COVID-19 cases


Some doctors in the province are concerned that some of the province’s actions are sending mixed messages to residents, which may contribute to COVID-19 fatigue and non-compliance with public health measures.For weeks, Albertans have been urged to follow public health guidelines, such as physical distancing and frequent hand washing.

READ MORE: ‘This is not something to be taken lightly:’ Hinshaw advocates for better choices as COVID-19 cases in Alberta soar 114

But, at the same time, hockey players will be flocking to Edmonton for the NHL playoffs, students are returning to school in the fall, and staging limits have increased.

All of this is happening as cases increase in the province – there have been more than 100 new cases in Alberta almost every day since last Thursday. There are fears that public health will be sacrificed to reopen the economy.

The story continues under the ad

Dr Hakique Virani, professor of public health at the University of Alberta, said there were inconsistencies in public health messages.

“Do this, this and that to protect yourself and each other, but in the meantime we’re going to be doing this, this and that, which is obviously a risk that we’re taking because we’re really not so serious about containing COVID. And this inconsistency, I think, is handled in a way that normal people respond to it, ”he said.

Premier Jason Kenney used direct messages surrounding the rise in cases in the province on Tuesday.

READ MORE: Hinshaw begs Albertans to take COVID-19 seriously, ‘concerned about continuing increase in active cases’

“If you think you can socialize with large groups of people nearby, drop it. If you are young and healthy, remember that you can still carry and pass the virus which ends up killing an elderly or vulnerable person, ”Kenney said.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr Deena Hinshaw also stressed his concern on Thursday over the recent outbreak.

“It must be a wake-up call,” Hinshaw said. “I am very concerned about these numbers.”

‘It must be a wake up call’: Hinshaw warns Albertans amid rising number of COVID-19 cases

‘It must be a wake up call’: Hinshaw warns Albertans amid rising number of COVID-19 cases

Regarding the arrival of NHL players and staff, Hinshaw said he has had many conversations with the league, as well as the Oilers Entertainment Group, to ensure the health and safety of the public is protected. .

The story continues under the ad

“The key metrics are going to be to make sure that this advice is followed, that we have the capacity to make sure that there is oversight, that those who come in stay in that bubble zone – which is a key part of the process. success of this particular event, ”Hinshaw said Thursday.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]
“At the end of the day, I think it can be a very safe event and a way to make sure we’re using the infrastructure that we have in Edmonton. But the main objective is, of course, to guarantee the safety and the protection of public health, and I believe that we can achieve that. ”

However, the province does not mandate the use of masks in public places or, at this stage, in schools; this debate was transferred to the municipal level and the cities had to introduce their own regulations.

Calgary City Council has moved to make masks mandatory in indoor public spaces and vehicles effective August 1. Edmonton City Council, meanwhile, on Thursday decided to require masks in municipal facilities and public transportation.

READ MORE: COVID-19: Edmonton to make face masks mandatory at city-operated facilities, on public transit

“We have talked a lot, people are tired of public health messages, public health measures. I don’t think it’s just that. I think we’re very inconsistent about ‘taking it seriously that way’, but we’re not going to take it seriously that way, ”Virani said.

The story continues under the ad

Dr Kirsten Fiest, professor of epidemiology at the University of Calgary, said the recent increase in cases is discouraging.

“Every individual put in effort and time from the start when we were in the early stages of COVID – being at home, not really having contact with people – and it’s really disheartening for a lot of people to see these gains. lost, ”she told me.

Fiest said it would be ideal if the message was consistent.

“One of the downsides of inconsistent messages is that people don’t know what to do, so they’re doing what’s simpler or what’s being modeled by others,” she says.

“If others say, we bring all these people to our city, if they’re allowed to come and they’re allowed to travel, then why not me? I don’t see a lot of public officials wearing a mask in public – why should I wear a mask in public? “

Virani said Albertans should think long term about their actions if they are to get the situation under control.

“If we do this right and do everything we can for the next three, four months, we won’t have to face this in six, seven months in a harsher and more restrictive way,” he said. .

The story continues under the ad

“If COVID doesn’t go away, if we’re not halfway there yet, I think the impacts on our lives will be far greater than we’ve seen before.

Hinshaw was asked Thursday if a new approach was needed for the province’s public health messages. She said they were looking to see where there might be more challenges with people following public health guidelines and what options there are for reminding companies and other operators to follow health measures.

She said, at the end of the day, that all Albertans are collectively responsible.

“Really, is it up to all of us to follow this advice and that’s the only way we’re going to be able to lower our numbers. “

Show link »

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here