'The inevitable next step': Alberta health minister defends COVID-19 policy changes
Alberta's health minister defended a series of changes to the province's COVID-19 response plan, calling the loosening of restrictions "the inevitable next step."
Tyler Shandro spoke to reporters in Edmonton on Thursday, citing vaccination numbers and comparably lower risk of severe outcomes for children who contract COVID-19.
"The data shows that what the vaccines are doing is making it less infectious and less deadly. That's a good thing that allows us to move to that endemic response."
"The pressures on the health system and our concerns about protecting lives are changing."
On Wednesday, the province announced it was shifting its public health response and lifting a number of measures related to quarantine, isolation and masks.
Shandro said the changes were made on the recommendation of Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health.
Shandro defended Alberta being the first province to announce such a sizable shift in policy, saying other jurisdictions will soon follow.
"Other provinces know this will be the inevitable next step," he said.
Shandro also said the province's trigger to move towards treating COVID-19 as an endemic was a vaccination rate of 65 per cent of eligible Albertans with a second dose.
The province is nearing that mark with 64.3 per cent of eligible Albertans having had two shots of COVID-19 vaccine.
Dr. Hinshaw, in her first appearance since June 29, announced the changes on Wednesday.
Starting today, close contacts of COVID-19 cases will no longer be mandated to quarantine, but isolation will still be required for positive cases and people with symptoms.
On Aug. 16, people who test positive for COVID-19 will not be mandated to quarantine anymore, but the province will recommend it.
Albertans with COVID-19 symptoms will not be asked to get tested, but to stay at home until they feel better. And two weeks later, COVID-19 tests will only be available to people who need to go to the hospital or see a physician.
Masks won't be mandatory in public transit, rideshares and taxies starting on Aug. 16, the province announced. Some masking may still be required in hospitals or continuing care facilities.
Hinshaw noted a significant amount of concern in the questions raised by primary care physicians while concluding Wednesday evening’s session.
“I want to acknowledge that any course of action we’ve taken throughout COVID has never been risk-free,” said Hinshaw. “Every course of action we take comes with consequences both positive and negative, and it’s no different with this policy change.”
Intensive care unit doctor Dr. Darren Markland told CTV News Edmonton the changes will especially impact young children.
“It will have repercussions,” said Markland. “Especially in younger kids who now potentially can show up maskless, unvaccinated with symptoms, and there will be no repercussions – just spread.”
Noel Gibney, a professor emeritus at the University of Alberta's department of critical care, says the province's plan leaves too many unanswered questions.
"Why? Why are we doing these stupid things? Why are we going against all basic principles of public health?"
"It makes absolutely no medical sense."
The number of new COVID-19 cases in Alberta has spiked sharply in recent weeks after the removal of most health restrictions on July 1.
In previous waves, a rise in both hospitalization and deaths has followed several weeks after an increase in cases.
Dr. Hinshaw had said that pattern may not follow given the protection vaccines afford against severe outcomes.
With files from Diego Romero and Sydney Upright
Edmonton Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Bakhtawar Khan excitedly waited, her friend holding two cellphones and a camera, for her turn to get a photo with NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.
There will be no let up in campaigning today as the main party leaders count down the remaining hours and minutes to Monday's federal election.
With a fourth wave of the pandemic underway, provinces and territories are responding with a variety of restrictions. CTVNews.ca looks at what is and is not allowed in each jurisdiction.
Last in the polls and amid climate crisis, Green Party leader defends record ahead of final election sprint
Green Party Leader Annamie Paul is defending her party's performance in the federal election campaign, with the party trailing in national support polling despite climate change being one of the top issues for voters, in a sit-down interview with CTV National News.
Afghanistan's new Taliban rulers set up a ministry for the 'propagation of virtue and the prevention of vice' in the building that once housed the Women's Affairs Ministry, escorting out World Bank staffers Saturday as part of the forced move.
France's ambassador to Australia has described as a 'huge mistake' Australia's surprise cancellation of a major submarine contract in favor of a U.S. deal, as the diplomat prepared to leave the country in an unprecedented show of anger among the allies.
A child under the age of 10, who Waterloo Region's medical officer of health said had underlying health conditions, has died due to COVID-19.
An Afghan journalist, who is now in Qatar, is telling the story of his escape from Afghanistan and his expectations for his life once he reunites with family in Canada.
The capacity of coral reefs around the world to provide essential benefits and services to humans has diminished by half since the 1950s, according to a new study.
In a letter written to Alberta's education and health ministers, one Calgary school board says it is 'frustrated' by the lack of direction being given to them amid the rising cases of COVID-19's fourth wave.
Alberta's effort in fighting COVID-19 has been given a shot to the arm thanks to a big day of vaccination.
CTV Lethbridge reporter Terry Vogt calls it a career after 49 years of telling southern Alberta stories
Terry Vogt would have liked to be a play-by-play announcer calling Habs games in their glory days, but Danny Gallivan got in the way of that. Somewhere in there Vogt got converted to reporting, and communities across southern Alberta are that much richer because of it.
Saskatchewan’s far north COVID-19 case rate in the last seven days is sitting at 1,180 per 100,000 people – the highest across Canada.
As the province prepares to roll out proof of vaccination, some are concerned that the aging portion of Saskatchewan’s population may not be able to easily adapt to the QR code that is planned on being used.
Seven more Saskatchewan residents have died after testing positive for COVID-19.
Seven more Saskatchewan residents have died after testing positive for COVID-19.
Regina vaccine clinic, rapid testing site dealing with influx of people following COVID-19 announcement
A COVID-19 vaccination clinic and a rapid testing site are dealing with a large amount of people, following Thursday’s announcement from the provincial government on plans to implement a proof of vaccination or a negative test policy.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority's Emergency Operations Centre directed leaders and care teams to move to a second phase of surge plans that include a temporary slowdown of elective procedures province-wide.
The cause of the tragic trailer fire in Millvale, N.S., that killed a family of six has been ruled accidental.
New Brunswick's jump in COVID-19 cases has overloaded the health-care system this week.
A supervisor at a Wendy's restaurant in Sydney, N.S., has pleaded guilty to sexual assault.
The B.C. government announced another 11 deaths related to COVID-19 on Friday, marking the deadliest 24 hours in the province since February.
Anti-vaccine protesters allegedly entered multiple schools in B.C.'s Shuswap region Friday, prompting strong words from district officials.
It’s now been two weeks since the Vancouver Park Board and provincial officials erected a bright orange fence around Stanley Park to try and deal with aggressive coyotes.
The King’s Landing wharf is again open to vehicles after being closed in March due to damage caused by ice in the spring.
Timmins is developing a registry of historically significant properties.
Student union at Nipissing University launches safety tips for university students partying off campus
With recent sexual assault allegations at Western University, the Nipissing University Student Union is sharing safe partying tips on its social media platforms to offer advice to students.
A restaurant that has been in operation in Winnipeg for 63 years is no more.
A crash closed part of the South Perimeter Highway Friday night.
Winnipeggers might face some delays when driving on the Perimeter Highway Saturday.
Technically, it’s still summer, but Friday felt like winter. The rain fell hard on Southern Vancouver Island, where total precipitation was expected to be in the 35-millimetre range through the evening.
Almost 200 nurses rallied at Premier John Horgan’s constituency office Friday to demand an end to the chronic nursing shortage in B.C. hospitals and patient care facilities.
There are now 6,031 active cases of COVID-19 in B.C., including 700 active cases in the Vancouver Island region, according to the B.C. Health Ministry.
In the three weeks since Ontario unveiled its vaccine certificate program, Premier Doug Ford has been notably absent from the public eye, with the exception of videos posted to social media and a virtual address last week in Toronto.
Police believe the 25-year-old to be violent and advises the public not to approach him if located.
A shooting at a large gathering in Mississauga Friday evening left three people seriously injured, Peel police say.
A spokesperson for the hospital where he died said the man's condition 'deteriorated rapidly.' Friends identified him as Stefanos Govas, a 39-year-old athlete.
A Quebec Superior Court judge has ruled that, unlike in Ontario, the court cannot require jurors in a criminal trial to be fully vaccinated.
As usual, Quebec could make or break the bigger election results, helping deliver the Liberals their coveted majority—or denying it in a last-minute squeaker.
London police are asking the public for information after locating a vehicle believed to be involved in the shooting death of Lynda Cruz Marques a week ago.
The Thames Valley District School Board is reporting 92 per cent of educators and support staff who filled out attestations, are fully or partially vaccinated.
Police in London, Ont. are expected to lay an additional charge in relation to the death of Gabriel Neil, but are still looking for the suspect.
Waterloo regional police are investigating after a man was found with injuries in a Kitchener apartment building lobby.
The Downtown Kitchener Ribfest and Craft Beer Show is welcoming guests at Victoria Park from Friday to Sunday after it was cancelled last year due to the pandemic.