Canadian News Aug 5, 2021 3:38 PM EST

Alberta's top doctor says residents 'need to learn' how to live with COVID

Hinshaw writes that ending the "disruptive" public health measures allows the province to focus on other health-related issues, such as opioid deaths and syphilis.

Alberta's top doctor says residents 'need to learn' how to live with COVID
Elie Cantin-Nantel Ottawa, ON
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Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health wrote a column defending her plan to lift all remaining COVID-19 restrictions amid anger from the medical establishment.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw apologized for the "confusion, fear or anger" that was caused following her announcement. She wrote that "we will not eliminate COVID, which means we need to learn how to live with it."

Starting August 16, Alberta will be going into the endemic phase, ending isolation requirements, mass testing, contact tracing, and other remaining public health measures.

Hinshaw wrote that "as vaccine coverage has changed the nature of the provincewide risk of COVID-19, it is time, in my opinion, to shift from provincewide extraordinary measures to more targeted and local measures."

She added that ending the "disruptive" isolation requirements, asymptomatic testing, and contact tracing will allow the Alberta government to focus on other health-related issues, such as opioid deaths and syphilis.

Hinshaw also took the time to highlight the low risks that COVID-19 poses to children, including those under 12 who are unable to get vaccinated. She added that other risks to children should be considered.

Premier Jason Kenney and Health Minister Tyler Shandro confirmed the lifting of all remaining restrictions was Hinshaw's idea and that they were not involved in its planning.

"COVID-19 is a wicked problem; experts don't always agree on the exact nature of the problem, much less the best approach. But it is not the only wicked problem we are facing together." While most Albertans are relieved to hear the news, members of the medical establishment are not.

CP24 reported a group of 10 doctors from the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association wrote an open letter stating that Alberta's move goes against Health Canada's advice and the advice of non-Canadian organizations like the CDC and the WHO.

"We are concerned with the rapid speed of these changes and that you have provided no scientific data to Albertans to justify these unprecedented actions," wrote the doctors.

They cited concerns over the more transmissible Delta variant and its potential risks to children under to get vaccinated. However, studies have shown that vaccinations are highly effective against the variant, and children remain at low risk from the virus.

Alberta has been without restrictions on gatherings or capacity for over a month, a move which concerned doctors. However, cases in the province remain low and stable, with new daily cases averaging less than 200.

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