With COVID-19 news changing every day, we have created this file to keep you up-to-date on all the latest stories and information in and around Edmonton.
Are you experiencing COVID-19 symptoms?
Before calling Health Link use the COVID-19 Assessment & Testing Tool to check symptoms.
Health Link continues to experience high daily call volumes and Alberta Health Services (AHS) is encouraging all Albertans to assess their symptoms or the symptoms of someone they are caring for using the online assessment and testing tool before calling Health Link.
AHS has updated the COVID-19 Assessment and Testing Tool to make it easier for Albertans to assess their symptoms, determine if they should talk to someone about their symptoms, such as their doctor or Health Link staff, access self-care tips to help manage mild COVID-19 symptoms at home and to determine whether or not they are eligible for PCR testing.
The tool has up-to-date guidance for adults, children and youth and is available at ahs.ca/covidscreen.
What’s happening now
COVID-19 in Alberta
Here are COVID-19 numbers released today by Alberta Health, covering a seven-day period from May 3 to May 9. Data is updated every Wednesday afternoon:
- The province is reporting 3,106 new COVID-19 cases over seven days, through 18,349 tests completed.
- There are 1,165 people in hospital with COVID-19, a decrease of 60 since May 9. There are 42 people in ICU, an increase of five since May 9.
- There were another 55 COVID-related deaths reported to Alberta Health Services, bringing the total to 4,452 since the start of the pandemic.
- Alberta’s two-dose vaccination rate for the population age 12 and over is 87 per cent.
Omicron variant BA.2.20 in Ontario not a significant concern: Experts
The Canadian Press
Nearly 1,000 confirmed cases of a new sublineage of the Omicron COVID-19 variant have been discovered in Ontario, but experts say it doesn’t warrant significant concern.
In a recent brief, Public Health Ontario says BA.2.20 represents an evolved form of the Omicron BA.2 subvariant that has been primarily growing in Ontario.
It notes that the first case of BA.2.20 had a sample collection date of Feb. 14 and that there have been 996 cases confirmed in the province.
Over the past four weeks, the percentage of BA.2.20 cases has remained stable, at approximately 5.5 per cent.
Dr. Zain Chagla, an associate professor of infectious disease with McMaster University in Hamilton, says there is “no need for panic” since the proportion of BA.2.20 cases has not caused “leaps and bounds” of COVID-19 cases overnight.
North Korea’s Dr. Fauci? Health official emerges as face of COVID campaign
At 9:30 a.m. every day this week, a soft-spoken official has appeared on North Korean television to report the number of people with fever and new deaths, and to explain measures to stop North Korea’s first confirmed COVID-19 outbreak.
The little-known official, Ryu Yong Chol, has become the public face of the isolated country’s battle against the epidemic, the equivalent of U.S. COVID-19 czar Dr Anthony Fauci or the director of South Korea’s disease prevention agency, Jeong Eun-kyeong.
For more than two years, with its borders sealed, North Korea did not report a single case of COVID, which skeptics abroad suggested was more a reflection of its traditional state secrecy than a real absence of the coronavirus.
Since confirming its first outbreak and declaring a state of emergency last week, North Korea has changed tack. Appearing to take a page from playbooks of many other countries, it is releasing detailed data about the spread of the virus and advice on how to avoid it.
Quebec coroner says many people share blame for high death toll in COVID first wave
The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — Quebec authorities share blame with the owners of a private Montreal-area long-term care home where 47 residents died during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the province’s coroner said Thursday.
The owners of the home, the Quebec government and a Montreal health authority “passed the ball around” while vulnerable people died alone, coroner Gehane Kamel told reporters.
“There were a lot of emails that were sent, but during that time, people died,” Kamel said. “There were people who were dehydrated; there were people who were in their excrement and no one came …. Everyone failed.”
Thursday’s news conference was the first time Kamel spoke publicly since she released her report on Monday regarding her investigation into 53 deaths at several long-term care homes during the pandemic’s first wave.
She said that on March 29, 2020, officials at the local health authority were sending lawyer’s letters to the owners of the Herron care home, writing to the Health Department and deciding whether to call the police.
Judge reserves decision on whether Coutts protester charged with murder conspiracy will be freed pending trial
Kevin Martin, Calgary Herald
A Lethbridge judge on Thursday reserved her decision on whether a suspect charged with conspiracy to murder Mounties during a blockade protesting COVID-19 health measures will be freed pending trial.
Justice Johnna Kubik heard submissions from Crown prosecutors Matt Dalidowicz and Steven Johnston, and defence lawyer Balfour Der on whether Chris Carbert is a suitable candidate for judicial interim release pending trial.
At Der’s request, the Court of Queen’s Bench judge imposed a publication ban on the proceedings, which covers any evidence called, the submissions of the lawyers and her ultimate reasons for allowing or denying bail.
Carbert, 45, of Lethbridge, was charged in February along with three other men with conspiracy to commit murder, as well as mischief by impeding the lawful use of property by others and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose.
The arrests followed an RCMP raid on three trailers in the village of Coutts near the border crossing between Montana and Alberta.
They were among 13 people arrested by the Mounties (a 14th has since been charged) after police executed a search warrant in connection with a then-ongoing protest at the border crossing.
Police said they found 13 long guns, handguns, multiple sets of body armour, a machete, a large quantity of ammunition and high-capacity magazines.
Also charged with Carbert with conspiracy to murder members of the RCMP are Christopher Lysak, Anthony Olienick and Jerry Morin.
‘Rescue yourself’: Crown prosecutor challenges judge at Tamara Lich bail review
Aedan Helmer, National Post
Thursday’s bail review for Freedom Convoy leader Tamara Lich featured some unexpectedly heated exchanges between the judge and prosecutor that threatened to derail a hearing where the Crown is seeking to revoke Lich’s bail and return her to custody for allegedly breaching her release conditions.
“I was asked to accept an award,” Lich said during her testimony. “I said yes I would, I’d be honoured.”
Assistant Crown Attorney Moiz Karimjee filed an application this week arguing Lich should be returned to jail on the grounds that she “has continued her support of the convoy cause” by agreeing to accept the award, which is to be presented in Toronto at a June 16 gala featuring keynote speaker Rex Murphy.
Alberta’s economic forecast grows more optimistic, but challenges persist: ATB
Josh Aldrich, Calgary Herald
Alberta is on pace for a better economic year than previously predicted, due in large part to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but the conflict could have negative effects if it drags on.
Rob Roach, ATB’s deputy chief economist, said Thursday that Alberta’s GDP is now expected to rise five per cent, up from a forecast of 4.4 per cent before the invasion. While he said the report is positive, there are some headwinds.
Much of the positivity has been driven by an oil and gas sector that continues to outperform expectations, due in large part to the conflict in Ukraine that has strained global supplies and driven up demand for oil and gas from Canada.
“We do think Alberta will have a decent year and overall economic growth, but it will vary for a lot of different individuals, families and businesses,” he said. “It might not feel like a particularly good year because of the turbulence and still trying to recover from the last two years of pandemic.”
Another threat for COVID — increased surveillance and a loss of privacy
Blair Crawford, Ottawa Citizen
Loss of taste and loss of smell are well known symptoms associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
And you can add another, say experts on surveillance and “Big Data” — loss of privacy.
How Canadians’ personal information was used — and misused — during the pandemic is the subject of a report by David Lyon of the Queen’s University Surveillance Study Centre, presented Wednesday at a conference on “Big Data” at the University of Ottawa. The rush to collect data during the pandemic was unlike anything seen since after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Lyon writes.
Advances such as StingRay cellphone trackers, facial recognition technology and powerful machine-learning programs give police more tools than ever to collect personal data.
The report identifies the risk of what it calls “lopsided information,” which occurs when corporations and governments accumulate vast amounts of personal information without private citizens’ knowledge or consent.
COVID infections among Canadian adults tripled during Omicron wave compared to previous waves: study
The Canadian Press
TORONTO — The number of Canadian adults infected with COVID-19 tripled during the fifth wave of the pandemic compared with the total number of adults infected in the previous four waves, according to a new study led by Toronto researchers.
More than 5,000 Canadian adults — members of the Angus Reid Forum, a public polling cohort — participated in the fourth phase of the Action to Beat Coronavirus (Ab-C) study. The findings of the study were published as a letter to the editor in The New England Journal of Medicine Wednesday.
The adult participants took a self-administered dried blood spot test between Jan. 15 and March 15, 2022 and sent the blood samples back to the researchers for analysis. The research team then tested the samples for antibodies related to COVID-19.
From those results, the researchers found nearly 30 per cent of Canadian adults were infected during the first Omicron wave of infections compared with roughly 10 per cent who had been infected in the previous four waves.
Reservations down at Alberta Parks campsites ahead of May long weekend
Dylan Short, Calgary Herald
Reservations at Alberta Parks campsites are down this year heading into the May long weekend and the unofficial start of the summer camping season.
Nancy MacDonald, interim executive director of visitor experience and business supports for Alberta Parks, said openings remained at 66 of 95 campgrounds as of Wednesday afternoon. On the Wednesday before the long weekend last year, there were openings at 30 out of the 95 sites.
“This year, now that people have some more options — they can leave the province and we’re moving to a different level of COVID sensitivity — we certainly have less reservations than we experienced at this point last year,” said MacDonald. “So we certainly encourage anybody who’s still thinking about going camping this weekend to take a look at reserving at albertaparks.ca.”
MacDonald said aside from eased COVID restrictions, she believes changes made to the reservation system itself are contributing to the added availability. Alberta Parks opened its online reservation system year-round earlier this year, rather than just for the summer months. The number of nights available to be booked in each reservation dropped to 10, down from 16, and a fee to change reservations after they were made was introduced.
Letter of the day
Leadership change should trigger election
Over the last two decades, each ruling Alberta conservative party has left a few cage doors open allowing malcontents to overthrow their leadership, mid-term. From Klein to Redford to Stelmach to Kenney, and a few in between, each have been forced from office during their premiership.
Alberta has recalled legislation and a change in leadership should trigger a general election. The whole of Alberta should decide
our fate, and not just a few $15-dollar members.
Peter Piekema, Edmonton
We invite you to write letters to the editor. A maximum of 150 words is preferred. Letters must carry a first and last name, or two initials and a last name, and include an address and daytime telephone number. All letters are subject to editing. We don’t publish letters addressed to others or sent to other publications. Email: [email protected]
Alberta reports 55 deaths, test positivity rates continue to decline
Kellen Taniguchi, Edmonton Journal
Alberta reported on Tuesday a continued drop in COVID-19 test positivity rates over the past week and an average of nine deaths per day.
Health Minister Jason Copping said it’s the third week in a row that PCR test positivity rates have declined. The province reported a weekly average test positivity rate of 19.9 per cent from May 10-16, compared to 23 per cent last week and 25.9 per cent the week before.
“There are more signs over the past week that we’re putting the BA.2 wave behind us,” Copping said during Tuesday’s COVID-19 update.
Copping said wastewater data is also showing a drop in COVID-19 with levels in most centres “declining or fluctuating” at levels well below the BA.1 wave peak. He said wastewater levels in Edmonton, Calgary, Lethbridge and Red Deer are showing a wide range of variation but are continuing to trend down.
He said it makes sense for larger centres to take longer to drop due to the higher population density.
N.Korea mobilizes army, steps up tracing amid COVID wave
SEOUL — North Korea has mobilized its military to distribute COVID medications and deployed more than 10,000 health workers to help trace potential patients as it fights a sweeping coronavirus wave, state media outlet KCNA said on Tuesday.
The isolated country is grappling with its first acknowledged COVID-19 outbreak, which it confirmed last week, fueling concerns over a major crisis due to a lack of vaccines and adequate medical infrastructure.
The state emergency epidemic prevention headquarters reported 269,510 more people with fever, bringing the total to 1.48 million, while the death toll grew by six to 56 as of Monday evening, KCNA said. It did not say how many people had tested positive for COVID-19.
The country has not started mass vaccinations and has limited testing capabilities, raising concerns that it may be difficult to assess how widely and rapidly the disease is spreading and verify the number of confirmed cases and deaths.
“The numbers are simply unreliable, but the sheer numbers of people having fever are worrisome,” said Lee Jae-gap, a professor of infectious diseases at South Korea’s Hallym University School of Medicine.
He said that the death count would surge over time, but that Pyongyang might be tempted to keep the publicly available numbers low to avoid a political crisis.
“I don’t think the North Korean regime can afford to release any surging death toll, which would sour public sentiment.”
U.S. FDA authorizes Pfizer’s COVID booster shot for young children
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized the use of a booster shot of Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11, the regulator said on Tuesday.
The authorization makes everyone in the United States aged five and above eligible for booster doses of the vaccine, although the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still needs to sign off on the shots.
Children below the age of five are not yet eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine in the United States.
“While it has largely been the case that COVID-19 tends to be less severe in children than adults, the Omicron wave has seen more kids getting sick with the disease and being hospitalized,” FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said in a statement.
The U.S. government has been urging Americans to get boosters, and for the unvaccinated who are at much higher risk of severe COVID-19 and death to be inoculated.
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