COVID-19 live updates: Hinshaw to provide update Thursday afternoon; Canadian vaccine passport for travel; sixty-one AHS employees have quit over vaccine mandate

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

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A pedestrian, wearing a mask to protect against COVID-19, makes their way past the O'Canada Gear store, 9859 76 Avenue, in Edmonton Thursday April 22, 2021. Photo by David Bloom
A pedestrian, wearing a mask to protect against COVID-19, makes their way past the O’Canada Gear store, 9859 76 Avenue, in Edmonton Thursday April 22, 2021. Photo by David Bloom Photo by David Bloom /Postmedia

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

1:19 p.m.

Pfizer will ship millions of vaccine doses for kids as soon as it’s approved: Trudeau

The Canadian Press

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland meet with doctors at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, in Ottawa, Oct. 21, 2021.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland meet with doctors at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, in Ottawa, Oct. 21, 2021. Photo by Sean Kilpatrick / Pool /REUTERS

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says as soon as Health Canada approves the COVID-19 vaccine for kids, Pfizer will ship millions of doses to vaccinate children as young as five.

Pfizer and BioNTech asked Health Canada Monday to approve the vaccine for children between five and 11 years old but said the doses already shipped for adults are different.

The pediatric formula is for a dose one-third the size as that given to adults and teenagers.

Trudeau said he knows Canadian parents are anxious to get their children vaccinated as soon as possible but urged patience because Health Canada will take the time it needs to complete its process to ensure the data confirms the vaccine is safe and effective for children.

The United States is expected to make a decision for this age group by the end of this month. While Canada has co-operated with both the U.S. and the European Medicines Agency to have common authorization requirements for vaccines, there is no deadline in Canada for the decision to be made.

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Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said in a statement that the first shipment will be 2.9 million doses, which is enough to give the first dose to all children in that age group.

Anand said Pfizer agreed to accelerate the deliveries, and that Canada has procured the syringes and other supplies needed to administer the doses.

She said second doses will be delivered depending on how fast the first doses are rolled out.

“This will ensure that Canadian children have vaccines when they need them without keeping doses in freezers for extended periods of time when global demand is so high,” said Anand.

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11:15 a.m.

Hinshaw to provide COVID-19 update Thursday afternoon

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, answers questions during a news conference on the province’s COVID-19 situation on Friday Sept. 3, 2021 in Edmonton.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, answers questions during a news conference on the province’s COVID-19 situation on Friday Sept. 3, 2021 in Edmonton. Photo by Larry Wong /Postmedia

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health will provide an update on COVID-19 on Thursday afternoon.

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Dr. Deena Hinshaw is scheduled to hold a 3:30 p.m. press conference.

The media availability comes after the province surpassed 3,000 deaths due to COVID-19 on Wednesday.

The number of active cases and hospitalizations continue to decline.

As of Wednesday, there were 10,824 active cases in Alberta, a decrease of 578 cases from the previous day. The Calgary Zone led the way with 2,773 active cases, followed by 2,603 cases in the Edmonton Zone.

The province reported 786 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday with a test positivity rate of 6.5 per cent.

There are now 928 Albertans in hospital due to COVID-19, 36 fewer patients than the previous day. There were 15 fewer intensive care patients, with 203 in ICU as of Wednesday.

More vaccines have been injected into the arms of Albertans with 86.2 per cent of those aged 12 and up having received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Nearly 78 per cent of eligible Albertans are fully vaccinated.

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8:57 a.m.

Coming for Canadians: One standard vaccine passport for domestic and foreign travel

Reuters

British Columbia’s COVID-19 vaccine card system went into effect Monday.
British Columbia’s COVID-19 vaccine card system went into effect Monday. Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Canada’s federal government and the 10 provinces have agreed on a standard COVID-19 electronic vaccination passport allowing domestic and foreign travel, government officials told reporters on Thursday.

The deal prevents possible confusion that could be caused if each of the provinces – which have primary responsibility for health care – issued their own unique certificates. The officials spoke on the condition they not be identified.

The document will have a federal Canadian identifying mark and meets major international smart health card standards.

“Many (countries) have said they want to see a digital … verifiable proof of vaccination, which is what we’re delivering,” said one official.

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In addition, federal officials are talking to nations that are popular with Canadian travelers to brief them about the document.

The Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced earlier this month that from Oct 30, people wishing to travel domestically by plane, train or ship would have to show proof of full vaccination.


Wednesday

Sixty-one Alberta Health Services employees have quit over COVID-19 vaccine mandate; majority have shown proof of full vaccination

Lisa Johnson

Dr. Verna Yiu, president and CEO of Alberta Health Services, speaks at an update on Alberta’s COVID-19 situation on Thursday Sept. 9, 2021 in Edmonton. The province has recorded more than 1,500 new COVID-19 infections in the last 24 hours.
Dr. Verna Yiu, president and CEO of Alberta Health Services, speaks at an update on Alberta’s COVID-19 situation on Thursday Sept. 9, 2021 in Edmonton. The province has recorded more than 1,500 new COVID-19 infections in the last 24 hours. Photo by Larry Wong /Postmedia

Sixty-one Alberta Health Services employees have quit over a requirement to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination ahead of a deadline to declare.

Dr. Verna Yiu, president and CEO of AHS, announced the number of resignations at Tuesday’s COVID-19 update, saying 11 registered nurses and 31 in clinical roles were among those who have given notice over the mandate first announced in August .

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Yiu said the vast majority of Alberta Health Services employees — 92 per cent of full-time and part-time employees — have submitted proof of two COVID-19 vaccine doses. Approximately 92 per cent of physicians and more than 97 per cent of intensive care unit staff are fully immunized.

“So overall this tells us that there’s very broad support for the mandatory vaccine policy. These are impressive numbers, and we’re extremely grateful to all of those who have submitted their proof of vaccination. We stand by the policy, and it will be fully implemented,” Yiu said, adding it’s essential to ensure the safety of workers, patients and vulnerable Albertans.

However, thousands of employees — seven per cent of staff — have yet to submit their proof of vaccination.

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AHS employees have until Oct. 31 to submit proof of full immunization, and those who do not or refuse to declare their status will be placed on unpaid leave. Employees would have had to be fully immunized by Oct. 16 in order to be considered fully protected by the vaccines at the deadline.

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Wednesday

Alberta surpasses 3,000 deaths, reports 786 new cases Wednesday

Kellen Taniguchi

Redeployed nurses Angela Bedard, left, and Andrea Blake tend to a patient suffering from COVID-19 at Humber River Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit in Toronto on April 28, 2021.
Redeployed nurses Angela Bedard, left, and Andrea Blake tend to a patient suffering from COVID-19 at Humber River Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit in Toronto on April 28, 2021. Photo by Cole Burston /AFP

Alberta has surpassed 3,000 COVID-19 deaths.

On Wednesday, the province reported 18 new fatalities for a total of 3,006 since the start of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, active cases of COVID-19 across the province continue to drop.

As of Wednesday, there were 10,824 active cases in Alberta, a decrease of 578 cases from the previous day. The Calgary Zone led the way with 2,773 active cases, followed by 2,603 cases in the Edmonton Zone.

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The province reported 786 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday with a test positivity rate of 6.5 per cent.

As case numbers and hospitalizations continue to drop, Premier Jason Kenney said on Tuesday that there are still more hospitalizations now than there had been at the peak of any other wave.

There are now 928 Albertans in hospital due to COVID-19, 36 fewer patients than the previous day. There are also 15 fewer intensive care patients with 203 people in ICU as of Wednesday.

More vaccines have been injected into the arms of Albertans with 86.2 per cent of those aged 12 and up receiving at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine — 77.9 per cent of eligible Albertans are fully vaccinated.

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Letter of the day

Nice guy Amarjeet Sohi outlasts other mayoral candidates. (Cartoon by Malcolm Mayes)
Nice guy Amarjeet Sohi outlasts other mayoral candidates. (Cartoon by Malcolm Mayes) Malcolm Mayes

All voters deserve premier’s thanks

As a poll worker, I saw members of our team thank every voter for coming in Monday to cast their ballot. I noticed that on Tuesday, Mr. Kenney tweeted out thanks only for those who voted in favour of his equalization referendum. Guess the “no” voters don’t count in his definition of democracy.

Brian Kiely, Edmonton

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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: letters@edmontonjournal.com

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Wednesday

World’s longest documented COVID-19 infection carried by a cancer survivor

Lynn Chaya, National Post

Earlier this month, medical research distributors medRXiv published a surprising new study — a 47-year old cancer survivor was found to have carried COVID-19 for nearly a year in the longest documented case of the novel coronavirus

The study states that prior to contracting the virus, the female patient, who remained anonymous according to the case study, had been immunocompromised after receiving aggressive, but successful treatment for lymphoma three years earlier. The treatment left her with few B cells, a type of immune cell that produces antibodies and helps the immune system function normally.

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Veronique Nussenblatt, an infectious disease specialist at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Maryland, first received her COVID-infected patient in the spring of 2020. After nearly a year, during which the 47-year old showed mild or no symptoms, doctors continued conducting COVID tests on their patient who would consistently test positive for the virus, but barely. Like many other cases, Nussenblatt along with other doctors assumed they were picking up on nonviable viral fragments, or low potency residue of the virus.However, they discovered something unique to this particular patient’s case.Read more

Wednesday

Only fully vaccinated people to be allowed in Parliament Hill buildings – a potential problem for Conservatives

The Canadian Press

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Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole recognizes that winning an election will require him to convince voters who backed other parties last time around that the Conservatives are better under his leadership.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole recognizes that winning an election will require him to convince voters who backed other parties last time around that the Conservatives are better under his leadership. The Canadian Press, file

When Parliament resumes on Nov. 22, no one will be allowed into the House of Commons precinct unless they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

That could present a problem for Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, who has refused to say how many of his 118 MPs are fully vaccinated.

O’Toole has personally supported vaccinations but has opposed making them mandatory, arguing that individuals’ personal health decisions should be respected.

All other parties support mandatory vaccination and say all of their MPs have had two shots of a Health Canada-approved vaccine.

Speaker Anthony Rota announced late Tuesday that the all-party board of internal economy has decided that only fully vaccinated individuals will be allowed to enter the House of Commons precinct.

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That includes members of Parliament, their staff, political research office employees, administration employees, journalists, parliamentary business visitors, contractors and consultants.

The precinct includes all the buildings on Parliament Hill that house the Commons chamber, as well as MPs’ offices and Commons committee rooms.

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Tuesday

Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine highly protective in 12-18 age group says U.S. CDC study

Reuters

A healthcare worker waits in front of a booth where people receive doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at Belgrade Fair vaccination center in Belgrade, Serbia, October 15, 2021.
A healthcare worker waits in front of a booth where people receive doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at Belgrade Fair vaccination center in Belgrade, Serbia, October 15, 2021. Photo by MARKO DJURICA /REUTERS

The Pfizer Inc/BioNTech SE COVID-19 vaccine was 93% effective in preventing hospitalizations among those aged 12 to 18, according to an analysis released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday.

The study was conducted between June and September, when the extremely contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus was predominant.

Yet, the data from 19 pediatric hospitals showed that among the 179 patients who were hospitalized for COVID-19, 97% were unvaccinated, providing reassurance of the vaccine’s efficacy.

Of the roughly 16% of patients hospitalized with severe enough COVID-19 to require life support, none were vaccinated.

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