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Long wait times reported for pediatric emergency rooms in Alberta
Alberta doctors are reporting lengthy wait times for pediatric patients at emergency departments in Calgary and Edmonton.
Dr. Shazma Mithani, an emergency physician who spends part of her work weeks at Edmonton’s Stollery Children’s Hospital, said waits at that emergency department in recent days are “unprecedented.”
She said one major sign the department is overwhelmed is that staff sometimes haven’t been able to clear out the waiting room overnight. That means the department is already starting on the back foot to begin the day.
“Patients tend to stop coming overnight, so you can catch up and see all those people without more people coming in. And that’s basically a non-existent thing anymore,” Mithani said Thursday.
Canadians’ trips to liquor stores, pharmacies tracked via phones during pandemic
Canadians’ movements, including trips to the liquor store and pharmacy, were closely tracked via their mobile phones without their knowledge during the COVID-19 pandemic, a report sent to a parliamentary committee shows.
Outbreak intelligence analysts BlueDot prepared reports using anonymized data for the Public Health Agency of Canada to help it understand travel patterns during the pandemic.
The federal government provided one of these reports to the House of Commons ethics committee as it probed the collection and use of mobile phone data by the public health agency.
The report reveals the agency was able to view a detailed snapshot of people’s behaviour, including visits to the grocery store, gatherings with family and friends, time spent at home and trips to other towns and provinces.
Alberta experiencing late season spike in influenza cases
Influenza cases have spiked in Alberta in recent weeks, marking a return of the illness after last year saw zero confirmed cases in the province.
During a COVID-19 update on Wednesday, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said there have been 707 cases of seasonal influenza recorded in the province this year. Data online show a large number of those cases were lab-confirmed in April. There were more than 8,000 lab-confirmed cases in the 2019-20 season.
“In Alberta, we have had more than 700 cases diagnosed this season, with the vast majority identified in the past two months,” said Hinshaw. “Actions to lower the risk of influenza infection are the same as those we need to continue for COVID — washing our hands regularly, staying home if sick, and for those at higher risk of severe outcomes, considering actions like wearing masks when in public places.”
A total of 68 people in Alberta have needed hospital care, including three who were admitted into intensive care. No one has died from the flu this year.
China bolts people inside their homes to keep COVID at bay
Chinese officials are bolting residents shut inside their homes to prevent them spreading COVID. Public health workers used wires to barricade doors and installed iron bolts in order to lock people in, according to videos circulating on Chinese social media.
The videos were the latest sign of an increasingly draconian set of lockdowns that have triggered rare public dissent in China. The country is one of the few places in the world that still follows a strict “zero COVID” policy.
The measures are applied to those who refuse to hand over their apartment keys so they can be locked in from the outside, according to the independent publication Caixin Global.
Almost three times as many died as a result of COVID than officially reported: WHO
Almost three times as many people have died as a result of COVID-19 as the official data show, according to a new World Health Organization (WHO) report, the most comprehensive look at the true global toll of the pandemic so far.
There were 14.9 million excess deaths associated with COVID-19 by the end of 2021, the U.N. body said on Thursday. The official count of deaths directly attributable to COVID-19 and reported to WHO in that period, from January 2020 to the end of December 2021, is slightly more than 5.4 million.
The WHO’s excess mortality figures reflect people who died of COVID-19 as well as those who died as an indirect result of the outbreak, including people who could not access healthcare for other conditions when systems were overwhelmed during huge waves of infection. It also accounts for deaths averted during the pandemic, for example because of the lower risk of traffic accidents during lockdowns.