Alberta’s chief physician says the province’s “Open for Summer” plan set the trajectory for a crushing fourth wave of COVID-19, which its predecessor warns is causing an “acute care system collapse.”
Medical Director of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said in a conference call with doctors Monday that lifting all public health restrictions in July was the wrong move. He said other provinces that maintained entry-level restrictions to handle the spread of the virus are doing better than Alberta now.
“Obviously Alberta is in a state of significant crisis right now,” Hinshaw said. “Delta has spread much more quickly and has had more severe results than we anticipated.”
She said that the data available in July on the spread and results of COVID-19, along with the uptake of the vaccine, led her to believe that it was an appropriate time to open the province.
“Expectations did not match reality,” Hinshaw said, adding that there was not the expected decoupling of case rates compared to hospitalizations. “(We) really had to switch and walk back, ‘OK, we’re not ready yet, we need to take more time.’
Dr. James Talbot, former Alberta chief medical officer, said the worsening fourth wave increases the likelihood that doctors will have to decide who lives and who dies as the healthcare system collapses.
“We are facing a situation in which a whole cohort of health workers, doctors, nurses and anesthetists, administrators, are going to live with the long-term consequences of having to make life and death decisions for a situation that was completely preventable. . “Talbot said in an interview Tuesday.
He said Alberta’s United Conservative government has failed to address the crisis.
With no vaccine passports and no reinstated public health measures to curb the spread, the situation will continue to spiral, Talbot predicted.
“If the triage protocol is to be invoked, there will be people who would have otherwise survived a heart attack, a pregnancy complication or a car collision who will not, because the bed is full of someone who decided not to get vaccinated.” . “
Federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau criticized Alberta and Saskatchewan’s opposition to vaccine passports during a campaign stop in Richmond, BC, on Tuesday.
# Alberta’s ‘Open for Summer’ plan was premature: Chief Medical Officer. #abpoli # Covid19
“I feel bad, very bad for those people in Alberta and Saskatchewan who stepped up to do the right thing,” Trudeau said of the millions who have been vaccinated.
“Due to the leadership that is not committed to keeping them safe in the right way, or even protecting the economy in the right way, they face higher risks due to canceled surgeries. They face emergency public health restrictions that may have to be introduced. “
During the call with doctors, Hinshaw said it is clear in other jurisdictions that vaccination requirements for discretionary activities can increase acceptance among younger populations.
Prime Minister Jason Kenney has repeatedly rejected requests for a test of Alberta’s vaccination policy. However, beginning Thursday, Albertans will be able to print their immunization status on a card or display it electronically.
Hinshaw also said she “deeply regrets” how the comments she made in July led some Albertans to believe that COVID-19 was over. He acknowledged the frustrations of healthcare workers with the government’s handling of the pandemic.
A record 212 Albertans were in intensive care as of Tuesday. In total, 822 people were hospitalized with COVID-19. Alberta had the highest active case count in Canada at 18,265.
Government spokesman Harrison Fleming said the COVID-19 committee will meet Tuesday and a caucus meeting will follow.
In Edmonton, NDP opposition leader Rachel Notley said the video of Hinshaw’s conference call, which was circulated online, was concerning as no plans to resolve the crisis were mentioned.
“The defeatist attitude was unsettling,” Notley said outside the legislature.
“The lack of a response was worrying, (as were) the admissions that this whole crisis we’re in can be traced back to the decisions made by this government as a whole in July.”
Notley renewed a call for the Kenney government to act, particularly with a vaccine passport.
“Forecasts prepared by Alberta Health Services say that the number of Albertans in need of intensive care to save their lives will almost double in the coming weeks. We are sliding off the edge of a great cliff. ”
This Canadian Press report was first published on September 14, 2021.