It’s time for more mandatory measures, say local docs, as Alberta counts record-setting day
EDMONTON -- Although the province’s top doctor believes Albertans have time to turn the COVID-19 tide, other local physicians believe it’s time to return to mandatory measures.
On Wednesday, Alberta counted a record-setting 406 new cases.
Dr. Tehseen Ladha, who has a master’s in public health at John Hopkins University, wants to see the government take a stricter approach to curb the rising cases.
“I do think, if we act now, we can avoid a full lockdown in the future,” Ladha told CTV News Edmonton.
Ladha said she’d start with reducing private indoor gathering limits to 10 people, from the current 50.
She sees benefit in closing non-essential businesses – like bars, nightclubs, theatres, gyms and rec centres – and even restricting indoor dining.
“Those would be the key things that should be done right away… that could make a big dent.”
‘IMPACT ON RESOURCES… STAFF MORALE’
Despite the growing number of diagnoses, it is actually hospitalizations which would trigger further restrictions in Alberta.
The province has two numerical thresholds to meet before considering reviving or bringing in new public health orders: either 50 per cent of Alberta’s 70 ICU beds set aside for COVID-19 patients are in use, or the average daily increase in hospitalizations over two weeks is five per cent.
Currently, 23 per cent of the ICU beds are occupied, and the province is experiencing a 3.1 reproduction rate.
- READ MORE: Alberta sets daily COVID-19 case record with 406 infections
- READ MORE: Alta. minister tests positive for COVID-19, Kenney self-isolating
The chief medical officer of health says hospitals are handling the capacity so far.
“If we were to put in place mandatory measures right now, we would be putting them in place before we knew if we were able to turn that tide without the mandatory measures,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw told media.
However, one ICU doctor says COVID-19-related care is wearing on hospital staff.
“They outbreaks sure have not been very much fun,” commented Dr. Erika MacIntyre with the Edmonton Medical Zone Staff Association.
“They certainly have an impact on resources. They have (an impact) on staff morale, that’s for sure.”
CONTRACT TRACING WILL HELP FIX THE CURVE, SAYS DOC
On Wednesday, Alberta’s confirmed active cases increased by 169 to a total of 3,372 infections. There are 1,649 cases in the Edmonton zone and 1,174 in the Calgary zone, and 113 people across the province in intensive care.
Alberta Health has placed the capital city and several cities surrounding it – including Beaumont, St. Albert, Fort Saskatchewan, and Spruce Grove – under its highest “enhanced” classification. The City of Edmonton currently has 129 cases per 100,000 people.
Several Calgary neighbourhoods are also on the department’s “watch” list, as well as Lethbridge, where there are nine active outbreaks and a case rate of 143.5 per 100,000 people.
- READ MORE: Lethbridge up to 9 outbreaks of COVID-19
- READ MORE: Contact tracers are crucial as COVID-19 cases jump in Alberta
Alberta Health Services has confirmed it is scaling back contract tracing in that city’s public school division due to the surge in cases – the exact opposite of what Ladha says is needed.
“If we’re not able to do (contact tracing), then we’re not going to be able to curb this exponential increase that’s already happening.”