By Jake Cardinal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
(ANNews) – There is no doubt that Canada is currently is being hit by the third wave of COVID-19 as Alberta cases and hospitalizations have spiked in recent days.
Variant cases continue to surge and are now the dominant strains of the virus — accounting for 45.5 per cent of total active cases. In order to combat this, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced earlier this week that the province would be regressing back to phase 1 of their re-opening plan:
– Indoor dining at restaurants is forbidden, with delivery and pick-up service still continuing.
– Indoor social gatherings are still banned and outdoor gatherings are now limited to 10 people only.
– Retail store capacity has been lowered to 15 per cent.
The full list of restrictions can be found on the Government website here.
The announcement is more polarizing as ever.
Many health care experts have criticized the announcement, believing that the province should go back into a full lockdown. Dr. Shazma Mithani, an ER physician in Edmonton said, “All levels of government need to take action to prevent a higher peak in this third wave. What we are recommending today is an immediate lockdown, or circuit breaker.
“We are asking that people only leave their homes for essential services, they only have contact with members of their own household or their cohort.”
However, 17 United Conservative Party MLAs – part of the Alberta Government – have spoken out against the new restrictions. “We believe that yesterday’s announcement to move our province backwards, effectively abandoning the plan that Albertans had worked diligently over the past months to follow, is the wrong decision,” they said in a letter released on Wednesday April 7.
Alberta Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief, Marlene Poitras, spoke on the rising number of COVID cases in the province.
“The COVID-19 third wave is upon us across the country… Variant strains are now the dominant mode of transmission in the province — over 50% of new cases are now variants of concern. 86 cases of the variants were identified among First Nations.”
“This is a very troubling and worrisome development,” continued the regional chief, who then emphasized that the new cases are outpacing Alberta’s ability to vaccinate. “It’s more important than ever that we follow the public health guidelines. The new strains are more contagious and more deadly, and we are seeing increased hospitalizations and severe outcomes in younger populations.
“I, like all of you, am feeling COVID fatigue. I know we are tired and this has gone on for so long, but this truly is the pivotal point in our fight, where our actions as individuals will determine the path the virus takes.
“In the short term, we need to continue to physically distance, sanitize, and practice good health measures. In the medium and long term, we need to vaccinate – please, get educated, and get vaccinated. The vaccines approved for use in Canada are safe and effective,” concluded Chief Poitras.
On First Nations, as of April 8 Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is aware of:
– 25,393 confirmed positive COVID-19
– 629 active cases
– 1,146 hospitalizations
– 24,468 recovered cases
– 296 deaths
Case numbers per region:
– British Columbia: 2,870
– Alberta: 7,299
– Saskatchewan: 6,333
– Manitoba: 6,553
– Ontario: 1,676
– Quebec: 652
– Atlantic: 10