COVID-19 live updates: Hospitalizations, case counts decline, more Albertans eligible for third dose; Global cases hit 250 million

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Watch this page throughout the day for updates on COVID-19 in Edmonton

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COVID-19 news happens rapidly, we have created this file to keep you up-to-date on all the latest stories and information on the outbreak in and around Edmonton.

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What’s happening now

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Share your COVID-19 stories

As Alberta grapples with a fourth wave of COVID-19 at the start of another school year, we’re looking to hear your stories on this evolving situation.

  • Have you or a loved one had a surgery rescheduled or cancelled in recent weeks?
  • Are you someone who has decided to get vaccinated after previously being skeptical of the vaccines?
  • Have you changed your mind about sending your children back to school in person?
  • Have you enrolled your children in a private school due to COVID-19?
  • Are you a frontline health-care worker seeing new strains on the health system?
    Send us your stories via email at edm-feedback@postmedia.com


9:38 a.m.

People ‘unvaccinated by choice’ in Singapore to stop receiving free COVID-19 treatment

Washington Post

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People above 70 years old wait in an observation area after getting a dose of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at a vaccination center in Singapore January 27, 2021.
People above 70 years old wait in an observation area after getting a dose of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at a vaccination center in Singapore January 27, 2021. Photo by Reuters

Eighty-five percent of people in Singapore eligible for coronavirus vaccines are fully vaccinated, and 18 per cent have received booster shots.

But the Singaporean government said Monday that it will no longer cover the medical costs of people “unvaccinated by choice,” who make up the bulk of remaining new covid-19 cases and hospitalizations in the city-state.

“Currently, unvaccinated persons make up a sizable majority of those who require intensive inpatient care, and disproportionately contribute to the strain on our health care resources,” the Ministry of Health said in a statement Monday.

“Covid-19 patients who are unvaccinated by choice may still tap on regular health care financing arrangements to pay for their bills where applicable,” the ministry added.

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The government now foots the bill for any Singaporean citizen, permanent resident and holder of a long-term work pass who is sick with covid-19, unless they tested positive shortly after returning from overseas.

“This was to avoid financial considerations adding to public uncertainty and concern when covid-19 was an emergent and unfamiliar disease,” the Health Ministry said in its statement.

“Until the covid-19 situation is more stable,” it added, it will continue to cover related medical costs for those who are vaccinated, as well as for those still not eligible: children 12 and under and people with certain medical conditions. Partially vaccinated people in Singapore will be covered until Dec. 31.

Singapore is considered to have one of the world’s the best health care systems. A 2017 study in the leading medical journal the Lancet found that Singapore ranked first among 188 countries in efforts to meet health-related sustainable development goals set by the United Nations for 2030.

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Monday

Hospitalizations, case counts decline as more Albertans eligible for third dose

Hamdi Issawi

A cyclist receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Gilles Villeneuve racetrack in Montreal, on Saturday, May 29, 2021.
A cyclist receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Gilles Villeneuve racetrack in Montreal, on Saturday, May 29, 2021. Photo by Andrej Ivanov /Bloomberg

Alberta’s daily COVID-19 case counts declined steadily over the weekend, along with the number of patients hospitalized with the disease.

On Monday, the province reported 1,300 new cases, which includes 586 from Friday, 430 on Saturday and 284 on Sunday. Alberta currently has 6,387 active cases of COVID-19.

The number of Albertans hospitalized with the disease was 608 on Sunday, 52 less than Friday. There were 135 patients in intensive care on Sunday, six less than Friday.

More than half of those intensive care patients, 71, are in the Edmonton zone, while 31 are in the Calgary zone.

The province reported 13 more deaths from COVID 19 Monday, raising the provincial death toll to 3,155.

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More eligible for booster shots

As of Monday, more Albertans are eligible for a third dose of COVID-19. Those over the age of 70 as well as First Nations, Inuit and Métis who are 18 years of age and older can schedule a booster shot if their second dose was at least six months ago.

Health-care workers providing direct patient care can also book a third dose if they received a second shot less than eight weeks after their first.

Albertans who have received two shots of AstraZeneca vaccine or one shot of Janssen may also schedule a booster shot of an mRNA vaccine.

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Monday

‘Really, really exciting’: Eager travellers head for U.S. after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted

Reuters

Performers engage with travellers as they queue to check into Virgin Atlantic and Delta Air Lines flights at Heathrow Airport Terminal 3, following the lifting of restrictions on the entry of non-U.S. citizens to the United States imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in London, Britain, November 8, 2021.
Performers engage with travellers as they queue to check into Virgin Atlantic and Delta Air Lines flights at Heathrow Airport Terminal 3, following the lifting of restrictions on the entry of non-U.S. citizens to the United States imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in London, Britain, November 8, 2021. Photo by Henry Nicholls /Reuters

Travellers excited at the prospect of reuniting with family and friends headed for the United States on Monday as it lifted travel restrictions slapped on much of the world since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

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The travel ban, first imposed in early 2020, had barred access to non-U.S. citizens travelling from 33 countries – including China, India and much of Europe — and had also restricted overland entry from Mexico and Canada.

The United States lagged many other countries in lifting the curbs, made possible by the rollout of vaccines despite rising infections in many countries, and critical to reviving tourism around the globe.

Months of pent-up demand triggered a major spike in bookings on Monday, with travellers only required to show official proof of vaccination and a recent, negative viral test.

“Really, really exciting. I mean, I was meant to go just before COVID happened, and obviously, it’s been delayed this long, so it’s really exciting to finally be able to go,” Alice Keane, traveling to Miami to see her sister, said at London’s Heathrow airport.

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Long-term rivals British Airways and Virgin Atlantic carried out simultaneous take-offs from Heathrow’s parallel runways just before 0900 GMT, a stunt aimed at highlighting the importance of the transatlantic market to the UK’s aviation market.

The flights were full, Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss said, while passenger volume was expected to remain high in coming weeks with the approach of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“It’s a major day of celebration,” Weiss said, in what he called a significant tipping point for an industry brought to its knees by the pandemic.

The United States was preparing for long lines and delays on Monday, with United Airlines alone expecting about 50 per cent more total international inbound passengers compared to last Monday when it had about 20,000.

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Monday

Global COVID-19 cases hit 250 million, easter Europe infections at record levels

Reuters

Medical workers wearing personal protective equipment tend to a patient at a COVID-19 ward of the Ippokrateio General Hospital in Thessaloniki, Greece, on Nov. 3, 2021.
Medical workers wearing personal protective equipment tend to a patient at a COVID-19 ward of the Ippokrateio General Hospital in Thessaloniki, Greece, on Nov. 3, 2021. Photo by ALEXANDROS AVRAMIDIS /REUTERS

Global COVID-19 cases surpassed 250 million on Monday as some countries in eastern Europe experience record outbreaks, even as the Delta variant surge eases and many countries resume trade and tourism.

The daily average number of cases has fallen by 36% over the past three months, according to a Reuters analysis, but the virus is still infecting 50 million people worldwide every 90 days due to the highly transmissible Delta variant.

By contrast, it took nearly a year to record the first 50 million COVID-19 cases.

Health experts are optimistic that many nations have put the worst of the pandemic behind them thanks to vaccines and natural exposure, although they caution that colder weather and upcoming holiday gatherings could increase cases.

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“We think between now and the end of 2022, this is the point where we get control over this virus … where we can significantly reduce severe disease and death,” Maria Van Kerkhove, an epidemiologist leading the World Health Organisation, told Reuters on Nov. 3.

Infections are still rising in 55 out of 240 countries, with Russia, Ukraine and Greece https://tmsnrt.rs/34pvUyi at or near record levels of reported cases since the pandemic started two years ago, according to a Reuters analysis.

Eastern Europe has among the lowest vaccination rates https://tmsnrt.rs/34pvUyi in the region. More than half of all new infections reported worldwide were from countries in Europe, with a million new infections about every four days, according to the analysis.

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Several Russian regions said this week they could impose additional restrictions or extend a workplace shutdown as the country witnesses record deaths due to the disease.

On Monday Russia reported 39,400 new COVID-19 cases, including nearly 5,000 in Moscow alone.

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Monday

U.S.border re-opening sees far fewer traffic delays for Canadians than expected

Shari Kulha, National Post

The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel border crossing wait times this morning were negligible.
The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel border crossing wait times this morning were negligible. Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

For the first time in nearly 20 months, non-essential traffic is once again moving in both directions  across the Canada-U.S. land border  .

Shortly after midnight, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents began letting fully vaccinated vacationers, visitors and day-trippers drive into the United States for the first time since the border was closed with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.

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In a statement, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security acknowledged the new rules and warned visitors it might take a while to get through.

“Long lines are expected in the initial days following pent-up demand, and CBP will adjust resources as needed,” the agency said.

“Travellers are advised to expect longer-than-normal wait times, familiarize themselves with the new guidelines, and have appropriate documentation ready during a border inspection.

But after the first few hours of the midnight reopening, fewer cars than expected were lined up.

By 9 a.m. ET, traffic delays at the busiest Canada-U.S. crossings were mostly only a few minutes, although the wait at the Peace Bridge between Buffalo and Niagara Falls reached nearly two-and-a-half hours shortly after the midnight opening. Wait times calmed slightly between 3:00 and 5:00 a.m. when they increased once again to 30 minutes or more. After 7:00 a.m., the waits shortened as more lanes opened, and by noon the wait time was two minutes.

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In British Columbia,  wait times were very manageable  just after 7 a.m. The Peace Arch crossing between Surrey and Blaine, Wash. had the longest delay at 20 minutes, but that fell to zero by mid-day. Abbotsford-Huntingdon had a 10-minute delay in the morning, which fell to five minutes by noon. Travellers at the Pacific Highway truck crossing had to wait about five minutes.

In fact, by shortly after noon, the longest wait time at any land crossing was three minutes, and that was at Peace Bridge, typically one of the country’s busiest.  This list advises of wait times at all the border crossings and is updated hourly.

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Letter of the day

Connor McDavid blazes trail of success through NY Rangers. (Cartoon by Malcolm Mayes)
Connor McDavid blazes trail of success through NY Rangers. (Cartoon by Malcolm Mayes) Malcolm Mayes

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Staples should write on delayed surgeries

After reading David Staples Nov. 5, I concluded that he does not have a brother, sister, parent or a child who has had his or her medical procedure cancelled as a result of all the beds at the ICU being full by sick people with COVID who refused to get vaccinated.

I have a fully vaccinated husband whose knee replacement was cancelled several times and he was living in constant pain and not able to walk. Finally his surgery took place before they once again cancelled all what they call elective surgeries.

We constantly think about the fully vaccinated people who have had their medical procedures cancelled. There are people who have expressed their frustration, suffering and sometimes anger because someone who refused to get vaccinated got sick with COVID and had to be given priority.

Please Mr. Staples, I suggest that you personally interview these people who have had followed the rules to protect themselves and others from this virus and their surgeries or medical procedures were cancelled.

I bet you will get an earful with their suffering and maybe then, you can be more empathetic towards people who have followed the rules during this pandemic and who can not get medical attention as a result of the unvaccinated ones.

Gabriela Shea, Edmonton

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Sunday

’31 per cent increase in injuries, deaths:’ child and youth advocate annual report outlines struggles during COVID-19

Anna Junker

Office of The Child and Youth Advocate’s Del Graff.
Office of The Child and Youth Advocate’s Del Graff. Photo by David Bloom /Postmedia, file

The number of notifications for serious injuries or deaths of young people increased by 31 per cent compared to last year, the latest annual report from Alberta’s child and youth advocate states.

The annual report released last week by Del Graff shows there were 81 notifications received to the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate (OCYA) between April 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021, regarding serious injuries or deaths of young people — that compares to 62 last year, marking the 31 per cent increase.

The annual report provides a summary of the OCYA’s major activities over the last year and looks ahead to how the office plans to strengthen services and advance the rights, interests, and viewpoints of young people. This year, there was a focus on how the COVID-19 pandemic affected young people.

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“Alberta’s children and youth have shown great courage and adaptability through another challenging year,” said Graff.

“Their resilience and hope, to strive for better, even in the midst of a global pandemic is evident. I also want to acknowledge our staff and others who worked hard to provide advocacy in changing times, adapting services so that we could continue to stand up for young people.”

Of the 81 notifications of serious injury or death, four were closed with a preliminary investigation, nine reviews were completed, 60 are in progress and eight are on hold.

As well, as of April 1, 2020, a total of 51 reviews were carried over from 2019–2020.

Of those, 19 were closed with a preliminary investigation, 14 reviews are completed, while 18 are still in progress.

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A total of 5,960 young people were served by the OCYA over the last year and 2,724 young people received advocacy services, 57 per cent of whom were Indigenous.

The report states the number of notifications of systemic reviews was 60 compared to 42 in the previous year, which signals an increase in the number of cases involving systemic issues.

“Of the notifications we received during 2020–2021, one-third of the young people involved had their services and supports disrupted by COVID-19 restrictions,” the report states.

“We found that at times, child-serving systems in Alberta struggled to adjust their services to effectively meet the needs of these young people amidst the pandemic restrictions.”

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Sunday

‘Embedded in the abstract world:’ 13 Alberta establishments hit with suspensions, closure orders for flouting COVID-19 rules

Anna Junker

Alberta Health Services opened a drop-in first dose COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Edmonton Expo Centre, Wednesday June 9, 2021.
Alberta Health Services opened a drop-in first dose COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Edmonton Expo Centre, Wednesday June 9, 2021. Photo by David Bloom /Postmedia

Thirteen establishments across Alberta have received 18 suspensions or closure orders for not complying with the province’s COVID-19 Restrictions Exemption Program must recognize they are “not fighting for a common good,” stresses an Edmonton health law and policy expert.

According to Alberta Health Services’ (AHS) list of enforcement orders , one establishment in the Edmonton Zone, nine in the North Zone, and three in the Calgary Zone have been issued food permit suspensions or closure orders for not screening patrons for proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within the last 72 hours.

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In the permit suspensions or closure orders, establishments were also offering patrons indoor dining when they should not and in some instances, staff were not wearing masks.

There have been no enforcement orders in the Central or South zones.

Those not adhering to the public health orders are likely listening to misinformation on two fronts, said Timothy Caulfield, a University of Alberta professor and Canada research chair in health law and policy.

“All of that, I think, is fuelling this, let’s call it the corporate hesitancy or the hesitancy, of some of these businesses,” Caulfield said.

There’s also misinformation involving the law and rights, with some businesses suggesting they have a right to flout the vaccine passport or that the passport infringes on their rights.

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“What’s interesting about that is this rights language has received a lot of attention. I think it’s very seductive, because it makes their position seem righteous and seem brave, that they’re fighting for some higher good,” Caulfield said.

“I think that’s a really damaging form of misinformation because number one, they’re not fighting for higher good. On the contrary, they’re hurting their community and number two, they’re misrepresenting the nature of the right.”

Being able to change someone’s mind on the issue would be difficult, Caulfield said, but that doesn’t mean education shouldn’t be tried.

“Individuals are jeopardizing their business, their income, in order to support a narrative that isn’t supported by the science or legal norms,” he said. “It demonstrates the degree to which they are embedded in the abstract world.”

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