Protesters rally against Alberta COVID-19 changes in downtown Calgary – .

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Protesters rally against Alberta COVID-19 changes in downtown Calgary – .


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About 125 people gathered in Calgary on Friday against Alberta’s decision to end COVID-19 isolation requirements as Canada’s top doctors raised concerns over the policy change.

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The protest, led by Calgary emergency physician Joe Vipond, took place outside the McDougall Center in downtown Calgary.

Protesters wearing face coverings held signs, some of which read “The land of the wild rose is not the land of the wild virus” and “We are not your medical background”.

The rally was in response to the Alberta government’s decision to immediately remove isolation requirements for those who come in close contact with someone with COVID-19, with isolation rules disappearing even for those who are tested. positive for the virus on Aug. 16, despite soaring daily case numbers.

Routine testing for people with symptoms of the novel coronavirus will also end by the end of August.

Dr. Joe Vipond speaks at a rally at the McDougall Center on Friday. Photo de Jim Wells/Postmedia

“We’re not going to have transparency about how the virus is spreading in communities, and pretty much everyone who is vulnerable will be affected,” Vipond said at the rally.

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Medeana Moussa, from the Support Our Students advocacy group, also spoke at the rally. She said Alberta’s public health decisions will put parents in a difficult position when they decide to send their children back to in-person learning next month.

“A lot of public schools have already phased out and moved their online learning,” Moussa said.

A handful of counter-protesters turned up at the rally, resulting in a brief physical confrontation between the two sides.

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Also on Friday, Canada’s top doctor said Alberta’s decisions about isolation requirements could have ripple effects across the country.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam has urged people to continue to self-isolate, get tested for COVID-19 and notify their close contacts, even though this is no longer mandatory.

She said the province’s vaccination rates have yet to increase. In Alberta, 75.8 percent of eligible residents received at least one vaccine injection and 65 percent received the required two injections.

“The main thing is to get vaccinated. There is still a long way to go in Alberta, ”said Tam.

Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam.
Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam. Photo by Adrian Wyld / The Canadian Press / File

Dr. Howard Njoo, deputy chief public health officer of Canada, added that an increase in infections among unvaccinated Albertans could spread across Canada when people travel.

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Meanwhile, the Ottawa-based Canadian Pediatric Society wrote an open letter to Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, urging him to reconsider lifting the isolation and testing requirements. .

“Lifting these public health measures prematurely … is an unnecessary and risky bet,” the letter said.

Alberta Medical Association president Dr. Paul Boucher said in an open letter to members that he wrote to Health Minister Tyler Shandro expressing his concerns about the changes.

Boucher said he agrees governments will have to move from a pandemic to an endemic response at some point, but he expressed alarm at the rate at which these changes are occurring.

He also expressed concerns that testing for the virus would fall to local clinics, adding to the list of responsibilities for doctors.

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“We are concerned with ensuring the safety of Albertans while ensuring that community practices remain stable,” said Boucher.

Alberta reported an additional 187 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday out of approximately 8,300 tests, which represents a positivity rate of 2.4%.

Active cases in Alberta have increased to 1,655. The province currently leads Canada in active cases per capita as well as the gross number of active cases.

Hospitalizations remained stable. There are now 90 Albertans hospitalized with COVID-19, including 19 in intensive care units.

Three new deaths from the virus have been reported, bringing the toll from the pandemic in Alberta to 2,328.

The province will then release COVID-19 data on Tuesday, following the Heritage Day long weekend.

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Alberta Health Services announced Friday that Calgary’s second-largest vaccination site will close on August 13, as operations wrap up at the Genesis Center. To date, the site has performed more than 140,000 vaccinations, many for residents of the city’s northeast. Friday also marked the last day of what was the city’s largest immunization clinic, the downtown Telus Convention Center.

The provincial health authority has also confirmed that it is changing the way it deals with confirmed cases of variants of concern.

As of Thursday, Albertans will still be notified if they test positive for COVID-19, but they will not be alerted if lab treatment determines the case is a variant. The province continues to screen all confirmed cases for variants.

– With files from The Canadian Press, Dean Pilling and Jim Wells

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