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COVID-19 Live Updates: News on coronavirus in Calgary for May 11


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

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Toronto Pearson travellers face long waits as airport hit by double whammy of COVID screening and staff shortages

The bottlenecks at Toronto Pearson International Airport are expected to worsen during the busy summer season.
The bottlenecks at Toronto Pearson International Airport are expected to worsen during the busy summer season. Photo by Ernest Doroszuk/Toronto Sun/Postmedia

Canadians traveling through Toronto Pearson International Airport are facing lengthy wait times and the situation is likely to worsen in coming weeks.

The airport is being hit with a double whammy of staffing shortages and longer processing times due to public health screening measures, according to Greater Toronto Airports Authority spokesperson Tori Gass. The COVID-19 measures can double or even quadruple the required processing time, she said.

“We are forced to sort of hold passengers on their airplanes because of capacity issues,” Gass said. “There’s not enough space inside the terminal.”

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China censors WHO chief’s call to end ‘zero covid’ controls

This handout TV grab taken on January 5, 2021 shows World Health Organization (WHO) Ethiopian Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during a press briefing on Covid-19 (novel coronavirus) via video link from the WHO headquarters in Geneva.
This handout TV grab taken on January 5, 2021 shows World Health Organization (WHO) Ethiopian Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during a press briefing on Covid-19 (novel coronavirus) via video link from the WHO headquarters in Geneva. Photo by World Health Organization

When the head of the World Health Organization described China’s hard-line “zero covid” policy as not “sustainable,” the reaction in China on Wednesday was swift – his comments were censored and he was branded “irresponsible.”

Authorities in China have blocked debate over its controversial approach of constantly striving for zero coronavirus infections through draconian lockdowns. Researchers have warned that abandoning the policy would unleash a “tsunami” of coronavirus cases.

In a briefing Tuesday, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on China to rethink its severe covid controls in light of the more-transmissible omicron coronavirus variant.

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COVID-19’s impact on the brain can be similar to effect of aging 20 years: study

In Canada, 3.7 million people have had COVID-19, and 39,000 have died, according to the federal government. GETTY
In Canada, 3.7 million people have had COVID-19, and 39,000 have died, according to the federal government. GETTY

Researchers from the University of Cambridge in England suggest that a severe case of COVID can result in a person losing as many as 10 IQ points. In fact, even in recovered patients, there is evidence that the disease can result in cognitive and mental health issues including brain fog, issues with remembering words, sleeplessness, anxiety, and PTSD.

“Cognitive impairment is common to a wide range of neurological disorders, including dementia, and even routine aging, but the patterns we saw – the cognitive ‘fingerprint’ of COVID-19 – was distinct from all of these,” David Menon, lead author on the study, published in the journal eClinicalMedicine, said in a statement.

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A separate study mentioned in the statement suggests that one out of every seven people who caught COVID in the U.K. were reporting cognitive difficulties up to 12 weeks after their initial positive test.

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Tuesday

RCMP didn’t ask for Emergencies Act to be invoked, commissioner tells Commons committee

RCMP commissioner Brenda Lucki testifies at the House of Commons committee looking into the invocation of the Emergencies act, May 10, 2022.
RCMP commissioner Brenda Lucki testifies at the House of Commons committee looking into the invocation of the Emergencies act, May 10, 2022. Photo by parlvu.parl.gc.ca

OTTAWA – RCMP commissioner Brenda Lucki told MPs the Emergencies Act gave police across the country the tools to end Freedom Convoy protests, but said her force did not ask for the act to be invoked.

Lucki told MPs that the RCMP didn’t directly request the act, but she said the RCMP was in discussions in the week before the act was invoked. She said in a variety of meetings the idea was raised, but it was the government’s decision to use it.

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“We were the ones who would be using those authorities so we were consulted to see if they would be of any use to police,” she said.

She said the act was enormously helpful, because it reduced the size of the Ottawa protest, which made it easier to finally move in and clear it.

“The measures enacted under the emergencies act provided all police officers across the country, not just the RCMP, with the ability to deal with blockades and unlawful public assemblies,” she told MPs

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Tuesday

Rally organizer acquitted after judge rules protest is not a private social gathering

Hundreds gather near Calgary City Hall to protest COVID-19 restrictions on Nov. 28, 2020.
Hundreds gather near Calgary City Hall to protest COVID-19 restrictions on Nov. 28, 2020. Photo by Jim Wells /Postmedia

A judge has ruled that protests are not private social gatherings under previous health orders, helping one Alberta man avoid any court punishment.

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The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms released a statement Tuesday saying Alberta provincial court judge Michael Dinkel ruled that protests rallying against public health orders aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 were not private gatherings. Rally organizer Brad Carrigan had been charged with violating the public health order in 2020 when private social gatherings were not allowed in Alberta.

Carrigan had organized and attended multiple rallies in Calgary.

“The Judge found that the word “private” means that the public is excluded,” said JCCF lawyer Hatim Kheir. “That was not the case for the Walk for Freedom rally which was open to anyone willing to join. Therefore, the rally was not a ‘private social gathering’ as defined by the Order.”

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Tuesday

Alberta’s hip and knee replacement waits improving, but still not at pre-pandemic capacity: report

File photo of the Foothills Medical Centre.
File photo of the Foothills Medical Centre. Photo by Gavin Young/Postmedia

Less than half of Alberta’s knee replacements in 2021 were done within the recommended six-month time frame, according to new national health data.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) released its annual study Tuesday comparing wait times across the country for common procedures like joint replacements, cataract surgery and radiation therapy. The data covers April to September of last year.

Wait times for hip and knee replacements in Alberta improved compared to 2020. But CIHI reports that only 59 per cent of the province’s hip replacements for 2021 were done within six months of a surgeon deeming it a requirement. Just 49 per cent of knee replacements hit the same benchmark.

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Knee replacements generally take longer to address — the province with the longest wait times last year was Saskatchewan, where just 30 per cent of those surgeries were done within six months. Ontario completed 71 per cent of the procedures in the same timeframe.

Joint replacements have been among the “elective” surgeries postponed at various times during the pandemic as COVID strained hospital capacity. Alberta Health Minister Jason Copping said last year that an estimated 15,000 surgeries were cancelled during the fourth wave of COVID, which peaked in September 2021.

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Tuesday

Scientists question the point of swabs up everyone’s nose: ‘We might have overdone it’

Provincial health workers perform coronavirus disease (COVID-19) nasal swab tests on Raymond Robins of the remote First Nation community of Gull Bay, Ontario, Canada April 27, 2020.
Provincial health workers perform coronavirus disease (COVID-19) nasal swab tests on Raymond Robins of the remote First Nation community of Gull Bay, Ontario, Canada April 27, 2020. Photo by REUTERS/David Jackson

For many people worldwide, having cotton swabs thrust up their nose or down their throat to test for COVID-19 has become a routine and familiar annoyance.

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But two years into the pandemic, health officials in some countries are questioning the merits of repeated, mass testing when it comes to containing infections, particularly considering the billions it costs.

Chief among them is Denmark, which championed one of the world’s most prolific COVID testing regimes early on. Lawmakers are now demanding a close study of whether that policy was effective.

“We’ve tested so much more than other countries that we might have overdone it,” said Jens Lundgren, professor of infectious diseases at Rigshospitalet, University of Copenhagen, and member of the government’s COVID advisory group.

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Tuesday

Texas doctor calls U.S. COVID deaths nearing 1 million ‘mind-blowing’

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In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, pulmonologist Joseph Varon offered an opinion that made headlines around the world and went viral on social media. He was fighting two wars, he said: one against COVID and one against stupidity.

As the United States nears the grim milestone of 1 million coronavirus-linked deaths, Varon, chief of critical care and COVID-19 at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas said only one of those battles has been won.

“I think that I have won the fight against the coronavirus. I think I’ve lost the fight against human stupidity,” Varon told Reuters.

“The reason why we have lost a million people in this country is because of that fight against human stupidity. I can tell you that the number of deaths that we will have would have been much more smaller if people just listen and do the right thing, if they have a little bit of common sense,” he said.

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COVID-19 infections are rising again in the United States, and around 66% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, according to federal data. Most U.S. states and localities have eased mask and vaccination requirements.

During the coming days, various trackers of the COVID-19 pandemic will reach 1 million U.S. deaths. As of Monday night, Reuters had tallied 999,118 deaths.

“It’s mind-blowing,” Varon said. “I can’t believe that we have lost a million people.”

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Tuesday

Canadians are clinging to cash as a savings strategy during the pandemic: RBC

Most Canadians plan to keep cash on hand.
Most Canadians plan to keep cash on hand. Photo by Francis Racine/Standard-Freehold/Postmedia Network files

The pandemic has not spelled the death of cash as many suspected it would. In fact, demand for hard currencies as a savings vehicle has gone in the opposite direction as demand reached its highest level in 60 years.

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Cash withdrawals surged at the onset of the pandemic as circulating notes increased twice as much as expected in 2020 and remained elevated in the following year, according to an April 14 Bank of Canada report.

The Royal Bank of Canada noted in a May 9 report that cash was used more as a savings vehicle rather than for transactions. The Bank of Canada’s data tracking transactions found that the volume of cash purchases dropped precipitously from 54 per cent in 2009 to only 22 per cent in 2020.

RBC analyst Josh Nye has a few reasons why Canadians are clutching onto cash: for one, there is an overall correlation with crises and the need to have hard cash on hand. Nye wrote that the demand for cash was pronounced over 20 years ago amid fears that the Y2K programming bug would wipe out the worldwide network of ATMs and digital payment systems. This “dash for cash” also resurfaced during the global financial crisis in 2008 when consumers were unsure of whether banks could stay afloat.

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Tuesday

WHO chief says China’s zero-COVID policy not ‘sustainable’

A girl sits for a COVID-19 test at a residential area on April 22, 2022 in Shanghai, China.
A girl sits for a COVID-19 test at a residential area on April 22, 2022 in Shanghai, China. Photo by Getty Images

The head of the World Health Organization said on Tuesday China’s zero-tolerance COVID-19 policy is not sustainable given what is known of the disease, in rare public comments by the U.N. agency on a government’s handling of the virus.

“We don’t think that it is sustainable considering the behaviour of the virus,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a media briefing.

Speaking after Tedros, WHO emergencies director Mike Ryan said the impact of a “zero-COVID” policy on human rights also needs to be taken into consideration alongside the effect on a country’s economy from any COVID policy.

He also noted that China has registered 15,000 deaths since the virus first emerged in the city of Wuhan in late 2019 – a relatively low number compared with 999,475 in the United States and more than 500,000 in India.

With that in mind, it is understandable, Ryan said, that one of the world’s most populous countries would want to take tough measures to curb coronavirus contagion.

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