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Albertans who have a qualifying medical condition that allows a mask exemption are now required to carry a doctor’s note, the province’s top doctor said Thursday in response to some people finding “gaps” in existing guidelines.
As of Thursday, a medical exemption letter provided by a nurse practitioner, physician or psychologist is required to check for qualified medical conditions, such as sensory processing disorders, cognitive impairment, facial trauma, and oral surgeries. or recent jaw.
“There have been incidents reported in the media where people breaking public health rules may be looking for loopholes or areas in the rules where it is not clear,” said Dr Deena Hinshaw. , Chief Medical Officer of Health for Alberta.
“Sometimes it’s a challenge for our local law enforcement teams to be able to remind people of the importance of following these rules and that they are not optional. They are obligatory. “
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In Calgary alone, 411 tickets were issued to residents for failing to wear a mask.
Of these, 20 have been fined since May 6.
Hinshaw reminded Albertans that wearing face masks is an “essential public health measure” to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. She said there are a “limited number” of health issues that qualify for an exemption.
“The change is not about unfairly punishing people. It aims to ensure that anyone capable of wearing a mask complies with important public health measures intended to keep everyone safe, which is especially important during this third wave of COVID-19 in the province, ”he said. she declared.
His comments come as Alberta registers 1,558 more cases of COVID-19, bringing the number of active cases to 24,586. The new cases come from 15,266 tests, which represents a positivity rate of about 10.6 %.
Hospitalizations have jumped nearly 9% since the start of the month.
On May 1, Alberta recorded 664 hospitalizations, including 154 in intensive care. As of Thursday, hospitalizations had risen to 722, including 177 in ICUs, representing an increase of nearly 15 percent in ICU admissions.
The average hospitalization rate per 100,000 population in Alberta is 14.8, with the highest hospitalization rate in the North Zone being 29.7%. In Calgary, the rate is 13.6.
The death toll now stands at 2,132 after nine new deaths were announced on Thursday.
Hinshaw said Albertans who choose to be vaccinated against COVID-19 are helping “make a difference in our collective fight.”
The province has administered more than two million doses of the vaccine through Wednesday’s end, marking a milestone for Albertans as the province battles a dangerous third wave.
A total of 2,019,713 shots were delivered in the arms of Albertans. Almost 16% of the eligible population is fully vaccinated with both doses.
Nearly 42,800 were administered on Wednesday alone.
“Over the next seven days, there are over 328,000 appointments booked for vaccines,” Hinshaw said. “If you haven’t been able to get an appointment yet, keep trying as more openings will be added as we get more shots.”
Alberta to End Workplace Notifications of Positive COVID-19 Cases
Alberta’s chief of health services is asking Albertans who test positive for COVID-19 to alert their employers, as investigators focus on individual cases and their close contacts.
AHS President Dr. Verna Yiu said the decision was made in April to “maximize” the ability of contact tracing teams to reach Albertans as cases escalate. She said the tracers continued to alert colleagues who were close contacts of positive cases and would devote resources in the event of an outbreak in the workplace.
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“Contact tracing in Alberta is a partnership and a shared responsibility among Albertans,” said Yiu. “We all need to work in partnership to stay focused on prompt and timely notifications of close contacts.”
High-risk workplaces remain a priority for the investigation of African horse sickness outbreaks, she added.
This includes continuing care, long-term care, designated supportive housing, acute care, correctional facilities, shelters, work camps, workplaces where people work nearby for extended periods. , food processing plants, distribution warehouses and manufacturing facilities.
There are currently approximately 2,550 case investigators and contact tracers in Alberta, which is about 50 times the size of the initial team of 50 people last March. Yiu said AHS continues to hire and train new staff.