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COVID-19 Live Updates: News on coronavirus in Calgary for Feb. 10


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

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Help us tell the COVID-19 story in Calgary

Just when it seemed like things were getting back to normal, Omicron has changed everything. We’d like to hear from you on this latest wave of the virus.

  • Have you or your business been affected by the blockade at the Coutts border crossing?
  • If you are a health care worker, how does Omicron compare with past COVID-19 waves?
  • How have you coped with testing requirements and rapid test kits?
  • Is your employer or school asking for a written doctor’s note in place of a provincial PCR test?
  • Are you having a difficult time proving you had COVID-19?

Contact us by sending an email to reply@calgaryherald.com or send your comments via this form.


Wednesday

Several doctors say Alberta must monitor health-care pressures as restrictions are lifted

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Customers enters Local on Stephen Avenue where the signs asking for vaccine proof are still up at the entrance on Wednesday, February 9, 2022 the day after Premier Jason Kenney announced the end of the Restriction Exemption Program in Alberta.
Customers enters Local on Stephen Avenue where the signs asking for vaccine proof are still up at the entrance on Wednesday, February 9, 2022 the day after Premier Jason Kenney announced the end of the Restriction Exemption Program in Alberta. Photo by Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

Several health-care workers are urging the government to proceed with caution and monitor health-care capacity as they move forward with removing restrictions.

Dr. Lynora Saxinger, an infectious disease expert, said she believes the plan that was announced and began on Tuesday was put into place prematurely, noting hospital capacity across Alberta remains high and health-care workers have been working at an unsustainable pace for the past two years.

“The system is definitely stressed with both people who have incidental COVID-19, COVID contributing to their illness and severe COVID, and that doesn’t seem to be really getting measurably better,” said Saxinger. “So, of course the idea of reducing public health measures right now seems premature to me.”

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Wednesday

Hospitality industry says other restrictions should have been lifted before vaccine passport

The Alberta government has dropped its Restrictions Exemption Program, better known as the vaccine passport.
The Alberta government has dropped its Restrictions Exemption Program, better known as the vaccine passport. Photo by Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

The Alberta Hospitality Association is wondering why they were not consulted by the province for their plans to lift health orders.

By removing the Restrictions Exemption Program on Tuesday night but leaving all other restrictions in place for restaurants and bars in the entertainment sector, they say they have been targeted by the province to continue to carry the weight of the pandemic again — this time without any layer of protection for staff and customers.

Vern Iskauskas, a partner in the ownership of Banff’s Rose & Crown, said they want all health orders gone, along with the REP, but the REP should have been the last to go.

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“It just seems like you’re putting the cart in front of the horse,” he said. “It’s just going to delay the return to normalcy. We feel, especially in the hospitality setting, people want to move around, they want to be out later, they want to dance on the dance floor, they want to play pool and do those normal things.”

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Wednesday

Alberta’s advanced education minister pens letters to post-secondary institutions to lift vaccine and mask requirements

Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides.
Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides. Photo by Gavin Young /Postmedia, file

Alberta’s advanced education minister is expecting students to return to post-secondary campuses in March without having to provide proof of vaccination or wear a mask.

In a letter sent to all Alberta post-secondary institutions on Wednesday, Demetrios Nicolaides said he expects schools to “align” their COVID-19 policies and practices with the Alberta government.

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Wednesday

Calgary street church minister incited protesters to continue border blockade, prosecutor tells court

Calgary’s Artur Pawlowski joins the rally as authorities dealt with a new roadblock on Highway 4 and 501 outside of Milk River heading towards the Coutts border crossing. Protesters were letting trucks through on one lane on Thursday, February 3, 2022.
Calgary’s Artur Pawlowski joins the rally as authorities dealt with a new roadblock on Highway 4 and 501 outside of Milk River heading towards the Coutts border crossing. Protesters were letting trucks through on one lane on Thursday, February 3, 2022. Photo by Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

After inciting protesters not to abandon an international border blockade even if it meant arrest, street church minister Artur Pawlowski hopped into his luxury vehicle and drove home to Calgary, a prosecutor charged Wednesday.

Crown lawyer Steven Johnston said Pawlowski should be kept behind bars on three charges, including committing mischief by inciting others to prevent the lawful use of the border crossing.

Johnston told Lethbridge provincial court Judge Erin Olsen that Pawlowski, 48, went to the protest at Coutts, on the U.S.-Alberta border, last Thursday and spoke to a group of protesters.

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Wednesday

Teachers raise safety concerns with schools forced to lift mask mandates

Students at Western Canada High School exit the school for their lunch break on their first day of being back in classes in the new year on Monday, January 10, 2022.
Students at Western Canada High School exit the school for their lunch break on their first day of being back in classes in the new year on Monday, January 10, 2022. Photo by Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

Calgary K-12 schools are expected to make masking optional for all students starting Monday after the province doubled down on lifting mask requirements across Alberta school districts Wednesday.

Neither the Calgary Board of Education nor the Calgary Catholic School District would say whether they’re considering asking for an exemption from the new rules, even after Alberta Education allowed them to set their own masking guidelines last fall.

“The Calgary Catholic School District will pivot and follow the latest direction as announced by the Government of Alberta,” said CCSD spokeswoman Felicia Zuniga.

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Wednesday

Calgary council balks at possibility of local vaccine passport system

Calgary City Hall was photographed on Monday, November 22, 2021.
Calgary City Hall was photographed on Monday, November 22, 2021. Photo by Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

There’s little appetite on Calgary city council for a local vaccine passport system after Alberta’s Restrictions Exemption Program (REP) abruptly ended last night.

Council’s community development committee heard an update on COVID-19 Wednesday, less than 24 hours after Premier Jason Kenney rolled out the plan to lift virtually all pandemic containment measures within the next three weeks.

One of the biggest question marks for the city at the moment is the bylaws that have been put in place in response to the pandemic. While Calgary’s vaccine passport bylaw, tied to the REP, has now been automatically rescinded, mandatory mask rules for public indoor spaces can stay until council votes to lift them.

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Wednesday

Alberta reports 1,684 new cases, 10 more deaths

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers released by Alberta Health:

  • The province is reporting 1,684 new COVID-19 cases, from 5,748 tests completed.
  • There are 1,615 people in hospital with COVID-19, a decrease of eight since yesterday. There are 135 people in ICU, an increase of six since yesterday.
  • There were another 10 COVID-related deaths reported to Alberta Health Services, bringing the total to 3,696 since the start of the pandemic. There have been 377 deaths since Jan. 1.
  • There are 26,896 recorded active infections in the province, a decrease of 1,369 since yesterday. The Calgary zone has 39 per cent of active cases in the province, reporting a total of 10,618 active cases.
  • Alberta’s two-dose vaccination rate for the population age 12 and over is 86.3 per cent.

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Wednesday

‘We’re not going anywhere’: Alberta border protesters won’t move to new site

The roadblock on Highway 4 outside of Milk River heading towards the Coutts border crossing as protesters continue to slow down traffic but still keep a lane open in both directions on Tuesday, February 8, 2022.
The roadblock on Highway 4 outside of Milk River heading towards the Coutts border crossing as protesters continue to slow down traffic but still keep a lane open in both directions on Tuesday, February 8, 2022. Photo by Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

COUTTS — Alberta RCMP officers were met with anger and chants of “Hell no, we won’t go” Wednesday as they attempted to persuade protesters camped at a United States border crossing to move to another location.

Demonstrators set up a blockade at the crossing late last month in solidarity with similar ones in Ottawa and other cities to protest a federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers and other public health measures.

They had agreed to keep one lane of Highway 4 open in each direction, but there have been closures a number of times. On Tuesday night, several tractors again shut down the highway.

RCMP Supt. Roberta McKale said a field had been secured for protesters on the south edge of Milk River.

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“End of story — they’ve got to go. This site is unsafe. We can’t have this continue on. And people have to make decisions that are good for themselves and good for society,” McKale said.

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Wednesday

‘Putting their foot on the throat of all Canadians’: Federal ministers call for end of blockades

Protestors block the roadway at the Ambassador Bridge border crossing, in Windsor, Ontario on February 9, 2022.
Protestors block the roadway at the Ambassador Bridge border crossing, in Windsor, Ontario on February 9, 2022. Photo by (Photo by Geoff Robins / AFP)

OTTAWA – Federal ministers said the blockade shuttering downtown Ottawa and two major border crossings are “putting their foot on the throat of all Canadians,” but for the second day in a row were thin on specifics on how they will help bring them to an end.

For the 12th day in a row, streets around Parliament Hill were closed as large trucks and smaller vehicles effectively blockaded the city’s core. A closure of the Coutts border crossing in southern Alberta has been in place for essentially as long and on Monday, protesters shutdown the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ont.

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Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said the protests were causing significant economic damage including forcing downtown Ottawa businesses to close and delaying huge volumes of traffic.

“I want to be clear, those participating in the convoy are hurting Canadians. They pose serious dangers for the economy, and they are breaking the law and no one is above the law,” he said.

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Wednesday

Ford, Toyota halt some output as U.S., Canada warn on trucker protests

Anti-vaccine mandate protesters block an intersection near the Ambassador Bridge border crossing, in Windsor, Ontario on February 9, 2022 demanding to be let in to the main protest site at the border.
Anti-vaccine mandate protesters block an intersection near the Ambassador Bridge border crossing, in Windsor, Ontario on February 9, 2022 demanding to be let in to the main protest site at the border. Photo by GEOFF ROBINS/AFP via Getty Images

WINDSOR/OTTAWA/WASHINGTON — Ford and Toyota on Wednesday both said they were halting some production as anti-coronavirus mandate protesters blocked U.S-Canada border crossings that have prompted warnings from Washington and Ottawa of economic damage.

Many pandemic-weary Western countries will soon mark two years of restrictions as copycat protests spread to Australia, New Zealand and France now the highly infectious Omicron variant begins to ease in some places.

Horn-blaring protests have been causing gridlock in the capital Ottawa since late January and from Monday night, truckers shut inbound Canada traffic at the Ambassador Bridge, a supply route for Detroit’s carmakers and agricultural products.

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Wednesday

Rachel Notley says provincial plan to drop health measures is ‘chaotic and dishonest mess’

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After having the evening to take in the provincial announcement regarding the plan to drop public health measures, NDP leader Rachel Notley held a press conference to respond.

She said Kenney’s plan to remove public health measures is a “chaotic and dishonest mess.”

“Hospitalizations are not declining,” Notley said. “They are higher today than they have ever been. What’s more, we have today new data from AHS which show that the number of people in hospital with COVID today is hundreds more than forecasted, for today in AHS’s worst case scenario projected a mere week ago.”

Notley also noted the high number of ICU patients currently in hospital care, and said Albertans deserve a government that will tell them the truth.

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“We are approaching the two year mark of this pandemic, and I know every single one of us really does want this to be over,” Notley said. “You don’t win a marathon by walking off the track 100 metres before the finish line.”

She said Albertans are frustrated with Kenney’s announcement yesterday.

“They know that what they heard yesterday was a lie,” she said.


Wednesday

Kenney apologizes for comparing stigmatization of unvaccinated to that of HIV/AIDS patients

Premier Jason Kenney provides an update on COVID-19 restrictions from the McDougall Centre in Calgary. Tuesday, February 8, 2022.
Premier Jason Kenney provides an update on COVID-19 restrictions from the McDougall Centre in Calgary. Tuesday, February 8, 2022. Photo by Brendan Miller/Postmedia

Premier Jason Kenney has apologized for his comments during a news conference Tuesday, in which he compared the stigmatization of the unvaccinated to the treatment of HIV/AIDS patients in the 1980s.

The premier took to Twitter on Wednesday morning to say he was sorry.

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“In my news conference (Tuesday) I made an inappropriate analogy to the stigmatization of people with AIDS. I was wrong to do so and apologize without reservation,” Kenney said.

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Wednesday

Edmonton exploring options to implement own vaccine passport program, indoor mask mandate in place for ages two and up

Edmonton city council looking at options of implementing a city-run proof of vaccination requirement to access businesses, much like the province’s Restrictions Exemption Program that was rescinded Wednesday morning.
Edmonton city council looking at options of implementing a city-run proof of vaccination requirement to access businesses, much like the province’s Restrictions Exemption Program that was rescinded Wednesday morning. Photo by Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images files

The City of Edmonton is looking into implementing its own citywide proof of COVID-19 vaccination program in response to the sudden end of the provincial rule.

On Wednesday, councillors unanimously directed city officials to draft bylaw rules that would require residents to provide proof of vaccination before entering city facilities and private businesses, such as restaurants, recreation centres and entertainment venues.

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This move comes a day after Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced the sudden end of the Restrictions Exemption Program (REP) as of Wednesday morning, no longer requiring businesses to ask for the vaccination status of customers or a negative COVID-19 test result.

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Wednesday

‘Not in the clear yet’: Ontario to stick with masks and COVID-19 passports

Ontario Premier Doug Ford holds a press conference regarding the plan for Ontario to open up at Queen’s Park during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on May 20, 2021.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford holds a press conference regarding the plan for Ontario to open up at Queen’s Park during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on May 20, 2021. Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Ontario’s health minister says masking will be important for some time to come as Alberta and Saskatchewan take steps to get rid of nearly all COVID-19 public health restrictions.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says Ontario is tracking on the best-case projections and COVID-19 hospitalizations are dropping.

But, she says the province is “not in the clear yet.”

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Wednesday

Sweden declares pandemic over, despite warnings from scientists

People celebrate on the dance floor of KB nightclub after midnight as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic restrictions have been lifted, in Malmo, Sweden, February 9, 2022.
People celebrate on the dance floor of KB nightclub after midnight as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic restrictions have been lifted, in Malmo, Sweden, February 9, 2022. Photo by TT NEWS AGENCY /via REUTERS

Sweden scrapped almost all of its few pandemic restrictions on Wednesday and stopped most testing for COVID-19, even as the pressure on the healthcare systems remained high and some scientists begged for more patience in fighting the disease.

Sweden’s government, which throughout the pandemic has opted against lockdowns in favor of a voluntary approach, announced last week it would scrap the remaining restrictions – effectively declaring the pandemic over – as vaccines and the less severe Omicron variant have cushioned severe cases and deaths.

“As we know this pandemic, I would say it’s over,” Minister of Health Lena Hallengren told Dagens Nyheter. “It’s not over, but as we know it in terms of quick changes and restrictions it is,” she said, adding that COVID would no longer be classified as a danger to society.

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Wednesday

Hong Kong’s zero-COVID policy no match for omicron — cases double in a day

Shoppers walk through a street market in Hong Kong on Sun. Jan. 30, in preparation for the Lunar New Year celebrations on Feb. 1.
Shoppers walk through a street market in Hong Kong on Sun. Jan. 30, in preparation for the Lunar New Year celebrations on Feb. 1. Photo by Chan Long Hei/Bloomberg

Hong Kong is instead fighting its most severe battle against the coronavirus since it was first detected more than two years ago, pushing the government’s pandemic strategy of “Zero COVID” to the breaking point.

The program has worked, so far, for mainland China but is falling apart in Hong Kong, which lacks the ability to enforce the sort of extreme lockdowns used in Wuhan and Xian. Meanwhile, the effort is destroying the territory’s role as an open international city.

By contrast, once-restrictive countries such as Singapore, Australia and New Zealand are moving to live with COVID, within limits, by reopening borders and easing social distancing rules.

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