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COVID-19 Live Updates: News on coronavirus in Calgary for Feb. 7


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.


Notley accuses Kenney of pandering to protesters, Alberta set to announce plan to lift restrictions this week

Alberta NDP Opposition Leader Rachel Notley calls for the UCP government to put an end to illegal protests against COVID-19 mandate in Alberta, Feb. 7, 2022.
Alberta NDP Opposition Leader Rachel Notley calls for the UCP government to put an end to illegal protests against COVID-19 mandate in Alberta, Feb. 7, 2022. Photo by NDP Supplied.

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As Alberta’s government prepares to launch a plan to lift COVID-19 restrictions, NDP Opposition Leader Rachel Notley is accusing Premier Jason Kenney of being bullied by disruptive protests across the province.

Notley said at a Monday news conference the UCP cabinet is “surrendering in slow motion” and she’s “deeply disturbed” by the government’s response to those who have been clogging the highway at the Coutts border for 10 days.

“It’s time for this lawlessness to end,” Notley said, calling again for the government to seek a court injunction to disperse the blockade. Kenney said last week he was prepared to seek an injunction but that it was not a necessary for police to begin enforcement as he called for calm from those involved with or sympathetic to the blockade.

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Alberta reports 39 COVID deaths over three days, 1,542 patients in hospital

Patrons at Side Street Pub and Grill in Kensington could see some COVID restrictions dropped in Calgary . Photograph taken on Monday, February 7, 2022.
Patrons at Side Street Pub and Grill in Kensington could see some COVID restrictions dropped in Calgary . Photograph taken on Monday, February 7, 2022. Photo by Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

Another 39 COVID-19 deaths were reported to Alberta Health over the last three days, while the pressure on hospitals remains high.

As of Monday, there are 1,542 COVID patients in hospital, including 118 in intensive-care units. The total number of hospitalizations decreased by 42 since data was last updated by Alberta Health on Friday, but the number of patients admitted to ICUs didn’t change and the province recorded an additional 39 deaths.

The deaths brought the province’s COVID death toll to 3,673.

The government’s COVID cabinet committee is expected to decide on a phased plan to remove restrictions, including the Restrictions Exemption Program, this week. Premier Jason Kenney said Thursday during a Facebook Live stream that the vaccine passport program will be the first of the restrictions to go.

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Physicians urge more youth mental health help to head off pandemic trauma

A playground at Sam Livingston School in the SE. Wednesday, December 29, 2021.
A playground at Sam Livingston School in the SE. Wednesday, December 29, 2021. Photo by Brendan Miller/Postmedia

Alberta is woefully unprepared to deal with a coming massive surge of mental illness among youth harmed by the pandemic response, say psychiatrists.

What was already a gathering storm of mental health issues facing the province’s children and adolescents prior to COVID-19 is an emergency that’s set to explode once the pandemic passes, said Dr. Sterling Sparshu, president of the Alberta Medical Association section of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

“In the 10 years leading up to COVID, there was more than a doubling of emergency presentations for children and adolescent mental health,” said Sparshu, who practises in the Calgary area.

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U of C students’ union calls for clarity for return to campus at end of month

Signs on a quiet University of Calgary campus are seen on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021.
Signs on a quiet University of Calgary campus are seen on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021. Photo by Gavin Young/Postmedia

A student leader at the University of Calgary is calling for school administrators to announce their plans for the rest of the winter semester.

Currently, most U of C students are completing their courses online due to the Omicron wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. In-person classes are slated to resume Feb. 28, following the university’s reading break, but U of C Students’ Union president Nicole Schmidt said students need more definitive guidance.

“We feel very strongly that students and faculty need clarity on this decision now, especially in the case of our international students and students living outside of Calgary who need to make travel plans and find somewhere to stay,” Schmidt said.

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Alberta reports 4,618 new cases, 39 deaths over the weekend

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

  • The province is reporting 4,618 new COVID-19 cases, from 14,765 tests completed over the weekend.
  • There are 1,542 people in hospital with COVID-19, a decrease of 42 since Friday. There are 118 people in ICU, the same number reported Friday.
  • There were another 39 COVID-related deaths reported to Alberta Health Services over the weekend, bringing the total to 3,673 since the start of the pandemic. There have been 354 deaths since Jan. 1.
  • There are 30,094 recorded active infections in the province, a decrease of 2,617 since Friday. The Calgary zone has 39 per cent of active cases in the province, reporting a total of 11,882 active cases.
  • Alberta’s two-dose vaccination rate for the population age 12 and over is 86.2 per cent.

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Ottawa mayor calls for feds to provide 1,800 more police to clear protesters

A protester carrying an empty fuel container on a broom handle walks on Metcalfe Street past Ontario Provincial Police officers, as a protest against COVID-19 restrictions that has been marked by gridlock and the sound of truck horns continues into its second week in Ottawa on Monday, Feb. 7, 2022.
A protester carrying an empty fuel container on a broom handle walks on Metcalfe Street past Ontario Provincial Police officers, as a protest against COVID-19 restrictions that has been marked by gridlock and the sound of truck horns continues into its second week in Ottawa on Monday, Feb. 7, 2022. Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

OTTAWA – Ottawa’s mayor is asking the federal and provincial governments for 1,800 more police officers to help clear a protest convoy in the city’s core that is now in its second week.

In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, Mayor Jim Watson said the demonstration has become an occupation, one residents can no longer tolerate.

“The demonstration has turned into an aggressive and hateful occupation of our neighbourhoods, which has nothing to do with the truckers’ quarrel against vaccine mandates,” Watson wrote in a letter co-signed by the city’s police board chair.

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Judge has ‘heard enough,’ grants injunction against truckers honking in Ottawa

Truckers occupation and protesting continues its 11th day in Ottawa on Monday. TONY CALDWELL, Postmedia.
Truckers occupation and protesting continues its 11th day in Ottawa on Monday. TONY CALDWELL, Postmedia.

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Ontario Superior Court Justice Hugh McLean has granted a 10-day injunction to prevent truckers parked on city streets in downtown Ottawa from honking their horns incessantly.

McLean says the injunction is temporary because he needs to hear more evidence, but has heard enough to make this ruling today.

Paul Champ, a lawyer representing Ottawa residents in a proposed multimillion-dollar class-action lawsuit, had argued the loud and prolonged honking is causing irreparable harm.

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WestJet announces more cancelled flights due to COVID-19

A WestJet check-in area at the Calgary International Airport was photographed on Tuesday, January 18, 2022. WestJet announced it would be consolidating or cancelling up to 20 per cent of its flights through Feb. 28.
A WestJet check-in area at the Calgary International Airport was photographed on Tuesday, January 18, 2022. WestJet announced it would be consolidating or cancelling up to 20 per cent of its flights through Feb. 28. Photo by Gavin Young/Postmedia

The Omicron variant continues to hammer WestJet as they announced more flight consolidations and cancellations to the end of March.

This is the second extension of departure alterations for the Calgary-based airline since they first announced them at the end of December, and is expected to impact 20 per cent of flights over the next seven weeks.

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According to WestJet’s daily operations update, as of Feb. 4, there were 482 active cases among WestJet group employees. To this point, these cancellations have impacted 1,393 flights.

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Police issue about 80 tickets as convoys snarl traffic in Calgary

Protesters shut down two lanes in front of Calgary city hall to rally against COVID restrictions and support the Coutts truckers convoy on Monday, Feb. 7, 2022.
Protesters shut down two lanes in front of Calgary city hall to rally against COVID restrictions and support the Coutts truckers convoy on Monday, Feb. 7, 2022. Photo by Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

Calgary police have ticketed around 80 people after a Monday morning convoy protest against COVID-19 health orders that snarled rush-hour traffic.

The slow-rolling protest, supporting similar demonstrations nationwide, frustrated morning commuters on Deerfoot Trail and other busy roadways, but police said no serious incidents occurred. About 20 vehicles also blocked two lanes of traffic along Macleod Trail in front of city hall.

Later in the day, the CPS said it handed more than 30 summonses to drivers, with another 50 on the way via mail to the registered owners of vehicles “identified as participating and committing an offence.” Officers dinged drivers with tickets for impeding traffic, failing to stop for a peace officer, having an unregistered vehicle, failing to produce insurance and displaying an obscured license plate.

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Police forces across Canada observed — and learned from — Ottawa’s convoy protest

People in Quebec City demonstrate near the National Assembly during the annual Carnaval festival, lending support to truckers against vaccine mandates, in Quebec City.
People in Quebec City demonstrate near the National Assembly during the annual Carnaval festival, lending support to truckers against vaccine mandates, in Quebec City. Photo by Mathieu Belanger / Reuters

Police forces across Canada took different approaches to protests against COVID-19 measures over the weekend, learning from the situation in Ottawa, where demonstrators and their trucks have remained entrenched in the capital’s core for more than a week.

Thousands opposed to pandemic-related restrictions congregated in cities across the country in solidarity with the demonstration in Ottawa, but while the gatherings were large and noisy, they appeared to end peacefully as the weekend drew to a close.

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Kenney to announce path to easing restrictions this week

Premier Jason Kenney takes off his mask before providing an update on Alberta’s COVID-19 response at the McDougall Centre on Tuesday, January 4, 2022.
Premier Jason Kenney takes off his mask before providing an update on Alberta’s COVID-19 response at the McDougall Centre on Tuesday, January 4, 2022. Photo by Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

Kenney said during a Facebook Live on Thursday that a schedule for scrapping the Restrictions Exemption Program (REP) and almost all other public health measures would be set sometime this week , after the government’s COVID cabinet committee meets to discuss it.

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The committee is expected to lay out a phased plan to remove restrictions as long as there is declining pressure on hospitals, Kenney said during the Facebook Live.

United Conservative Party caucus chair Nathan Neudorf suggested last week that Alberta will begin lifting restrictions “very soon, likely within days.” The first thing to go, according to both Kenney and Neudorf, will be the REP.

However, the announcement from Kenney is expected to come about a week after the premier told reporters that late February would be the earliest restrictions could be eased , given the immense pressure COVID-19 continues to have on the health system.

Duane Bratt, political scientist at Mount Royal University, said the timeline for Kenney’s actions over the past couple of weeks is telling.

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“You start with his press conference the Thursday before he went to Washington (D.C.), and he was asked what sort of metrics for the removal of restrictions were being used. He said they hadn’t developed any metrics but they’re looking at larger themes,” said Bratt.

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England’s oldest pub, possibly 1,229 years old, shuts its doors due to coronavirus hardships

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks is a pub near the River Ver, in the historic city of St. Albans.
Ye Olde Fighting Cocks is a pub near the River Ver, in the historic city of St. Albans. Photo by William Booth /The Washington Post

The Ye Olde Fighting Cocks pub in St. Albans, England, has seen it all: Since its first brick was laid, possibly as early as 793, well before the United Kingdom was formed, the drinking house has survived civil and world wars, famine and the spread of the bubonic plague.

But hardships brought on by the coronavirus pandemic mean the pub — which Guinness World Records has reportedly called England’s oldest, though others contest that title — is shutting its doors.

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Christo Tofalli, who took over the lease of the heavily beamed pub in 2012, told The Washington Post that the pandemic and the government’s public health restrictions squeezed his business until he couldn’t meet its financial obligations.

Its insolvency leaves Mitchells & Butlers, which owns the pub some 40 kilometres north of the London core, open to seeking new management of the possibly more-than-1,200-year-old business.

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Sunday

Several open RCMP investigations into Coutts convoy; protests touch across southern Alberta

The roadblock on Highway 4 and 501 outside of Milk River heading towards the Coutts border crossing is ongoing with trucks still getting through one lane on Friday, February 4, 2022.
The roadblock on Highway 4 and 501 outside of Milk River heading towards the Coutts border crossing is ongoing with trucks still getting through one lane on Friday, February 4, 2022. Photo by Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

Mounties are investigating several individuals as an unlawful protest at the southern Alberta border with the United States in Coutts continues.

The demonstration is in its second week after the convoy of semis, farm equipment and other vehicles rolled down Highway 4 toward the border on Jan. 29. The Coutts convoy, and several demonstrations across Alberta this weekend, are in support of the ‘Freedom Convoy’ that continues to gridlock downtown Ottawa. The protests oppose COVID-19 health restrictions, namely, the federal mandate requiring unvaccinated Canadian truckers re-entering Canada from the United States to get tested for COVID-19 and to quarantine.

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On Saturday, the RCMP revealed it had opened multiple investigations related to protesters in Coutts who are demonstrating in an unlawful manner.

“We appreciate so many of the individuals taking part in protests in the Coutts area are having their voices heard in a lawful way by being respectful (and) listening to police orders,” the RCMP wrote in a Twitter post.

“We are aware not all individuals are following the law (and) have several open investigations underway.”

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Sunday

Students miss health benefits of competitive sports as pandemic drags on

Denise Shaw’s sons, Brady (left, Grade 7) and Ethan (right, Grade 9) play basketball on their driveway. The CBE has cancelled the 2022 junior high basketball season.
Denise Shaw’s sons, Brady (left, Grade 7) and Ethan (right, Grade 9) play basketball on their driveway. The CBE has cancelled the 2022 junior high basketball season. Photo by supplied

Public school parents are frustrated the junior high basketball season has been cancelled at a time when sports are becoming more important than ever for mental and physical health.

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Students at William D. Pratt Middle School in the city’s northwest were just beginning basketball tryouts, parents say, when the Calgary Board of Education cancelled the season, saying not enough staff were available to run games and practices.

But families say teachers and parent volunteers are available, and want to do everything possible to maintain a competitive season.

In fact, teachers at the school initially started a petition asking for the board to consider a restart, but have now turned it over to parents who have collected more than 1,000 names from families.

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Sunday

Ottawa mayor declares state of emergency to deal with trucking blockade

Police watch over a shack that was being used as a soup kitchen as truckers and their supporters continue to protest against the COVID-19 vaccine mandates in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, February 6, 2022.
Police watch over a shack that was being used as a soup kitchen as truckers and their supporters continue to protest against the COVID-19 vaccine mandates in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, February 6, 2022. Photo by REUTERS/Patrick Doyle

OTTAWA — Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson on Sunday declared a state of emergency to help deal with an unprecedented 10-day occupation by protesting truckers that has shut down much of the core of the Canadian capital.

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“(This) reflects the serious danger and threat to the safety and security of residents posed by the ongoing demonstrations and highlights the need for support from other jurisdictions and levels of government,” he said in a statement.

Watson, who complained earlier in the day that the demonstrators outnumbered police and controlled the situation, did not give details of what measures he might impose.

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Sunday

Alberta court grants mother right to vaccinate immunocompromised son against COVID-19

The inside of an Edmonton courtroom.
The inside of an Edmonton courtroom. Photo by Ed Kaiser /Postmedia, file

An Alberta mother has been granted authority by the courts to have her immunocompromised nine-year-old son vaccinated against COVID-19 despite the separated father’s opposition.

In a written decision released Friday, Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Anna Loparco ruled it in the best interest of the child to be vaccinated based on the recommendations of doctors and granted the boy’s mother sole decision-making authority on his medical needs. The boy was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2019 and has asthma for which he has had multiple hospital visits.

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Sunday

Mounties probe serious collision at Brooks convoy protest

A serious crash during a convoy protest against COVID-19 health restrictions in Brooks on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022, injured multiple people.
A serious crash during a convoy protest against COVID-19 health restrictions in Brooks on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022, injured multiple people. Photo by Alberta RCMP

A driver had to be extracted from his vehicle after a serious crash involving a farm tractor during a convoy protest against COVID-19 health restrictions in Brooks Saturday, according to the RCMP.

Brooks RCMP were called to the scene on Highway 1, just west of the city, at around 1:45 p.m. Saturday. Mounties say the tractor and at least one pickup truck were part of the slow-moving convoy when a second truck struck the first in the bumper, pushing it off the road. The second truck continued forward, striking the tractor and taking out one of its rear tires.

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Saturday

Protests against COVID-19 health measures continue in Alberta cities

Around 100 riders show their support for protesters at a roadblock on southbound Highway 4 south of Milk River, Ab., on Saturday February 5, 2022.
Around 100 riders show their support for protesters at a roadblock on southbound Highway 4 south of Milk River, Ab., on Saturday February 5, 2022. Photo by Mike Drew /Postmedia

Police are monitoring truck convoys and protests in Alberta’s major cities on Saturday, including Edmonton, Calgary and Lethbridge.

The convoys in Alberta are in support of the ‘Freedom Convoy’ that has gridlocked downtown Ottawa for the last week. Since then, other similar protests have popped up in other cities in Canada in opposition to COVID-19 public health measures.

Those protests come at a time when COVID-19 hospitalizations in Alberta are at a pandemic high, with deaths from the disease mounting rapidly.

Read more.

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