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COVID-19 Live Updates: News on coronavirus in Calgary for Feb. 2

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Follow this page for updates and breaking news on coronavirus throughout the day.

Author of the article:

Newsroom Staff

Publishing date:

Feb 03, 2021  •  February 3, 2021  •  14 minute read  •  6 Comments Passengers arrive at the Calgary International Airport from Cancun on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. Flights to Mexico and the Caribbean have been cancelled until at least April 30. Photo by Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

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With news on COVID-19 happening rapidly, we’ve created this page to bring you our latest stories and information on the outbreak in and around Calgary.

What’s happening now

  • Alberta reported Tuesday 268 new cases of COVID-19 and 13 additional deaths.
  • Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Tuesday that four of the U.K. variant cases in Alberta not connected to travel are linked to an outbreak at a daycare.
  • Three classes in two Calgary-zone schools are isolating as the result of children of returning travellers attending school while infectious with U.K. variant, Hinshaw said. There has been no evidence of spread of the variant at those schools, Hinshaw added.
  • Two partner companies that aim to develop COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing capacity in Calgary remain hopeful they will receive government support, even as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a deal that will see millions of doses produced in Montreal instead.
  • COVID-19 hospitalizations are the focus of Alberta’s road map for gradually opening up more businesses and activities, but the province’s top doctor says a different criteria will factor into whether to slow down or tighten up.
  • There are 51 cases of COVID-19 variants from the U.K. and South Africa in Alberta, but only six of those cases in three unrelated households are not connected to travel, Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said on Monday.
  • AUPE is calling for the province to take over AgeCare’s four Calgary-area long-term care homes after they’ve experienced nearly 80 COVID-19 deaths.
  • All Albertans who must self-isolate due to COVID-19 can now access hotel rooms paid for by the province and will be eligible for $625 once they complete the self-isolation.
  • Calgary business owners have mixed reactions to Alberta’s reopening plan on Saturday, with some saying it could just create more problems.
  • Premier Jason Kenney revealed Friday Alberta’s plan to ease health restrictions in a stepped approach based on COVID-19 hospitalizations. The first step will begin on Feb. 8, with some restrictions eased on kids’ sports and performances, restaurants, and indoor fitness.

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My COVID Story: How have you been impacted by coronavirus?

Postmedia is looking to speak with people who may have been impacted by COVID-19 here in Alberta. Have you received your vaccine, and if so did you feel any side effects? Send us an email at reply@calgaryherald.com to tell us your experience, or send us a message via this form.

Read our ongoing coverage of personal stories arising from the pandemic.

Numbers reported by Alberta Health on Tuesday, Feb. 2. Numbers reported by Alberta Health on Tuesday, Feb. 2.

The dawning of COVID-21: As pandemic gets under control, new mutations pose host of new concerns

A police volunteer in Woking, southwest of London, exits a briefing on the rollout of test kits to detect the South African variant of COVID-19, on February 2, 2021. A police volunteer in Woking, southwest of London, exits a briefing on the rollout of test kits to detect the South African variant of COVID-19, on February 2, 2021. Photo by Adrian Dennis/AFP via Getty Images

The growing threat from viral mutants is dampening hopeful signs that the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada is coming under control.

While Canada is registering 4,000 fewer daily confirmed cases, on average, than the country was seeing three weeks ago, while hospitalizations and deaths are on the decline, scientists are warning aggressive efforts are needed to slow the spread of COVID variants coming in from other places — or new “Canadian” mutations emerging from here.

Read more.

Hockey Alberta, Ringette Calgary cancel minor games for rest of season

Bracket A Atom 1 South semi-final game action between Bow Valley Black and Bow Valley White at the Lake Bonavista arena during the 2019/2020 Esso Minor Hockey Week hosted by Hockey Calgary. Wednesday, January 15, 2020. Brendan Miller/Postmedia Bracket A Atom 1 South semi-final game action between Bow Valley Black and Bow Valley White at the Lake Bonavista arena during the 2019/2020 Esso Minor Hockey Week hosted by Hockey Calgary. Wednesday, January 15, 2020. Brendan Miller/Postmedia

Hockey is on hold for young Calgarians.

Same goes for the city’s ringette players.

Right on through to next season where league play is concerned.

With the coronavirus pandemic continuing to run interference on return-to-play plans, Hockey Alberta announced Tuesday it is cancelling scheduled games for tiered, AAA and AA teams until the end of the 2020-21 season.

It follows Ringette Calgary’s shelving of the remainder of its league campaign.

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Read more.

Kenney, Hinshaw answer questions on Facebook Live

Kenney is talking about COVID-19 vaccines, says deliveries of Pfizer and Moderna doses are being massively slowed.

“We’ve run out of doses here in Alberta,” said Kenney — though there is some supply, just over 1,000 doses were given yesterday, according to Alberta Health stats.

— Stephanie Babych (@BabychStephanie) February 3, 2021

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Kenney answers a question about “isolation centres,” Kenney says that kind of language about this is not accurate. The hotel rented by feds is a 3 or 4-star hotel near the airport — The Westin.

Kenney says there needs to be more clarity from feds about the travel policies.

— Stephanie Babych (@BabychStephanie) February 3, 2021

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Hinshaw says this coming summer will not be the same as it was pre-COVID-19, but expects restrictions to be fairly loose since more Albertans will have been vaccinated by then. But she says people shouldn’t plan for a normal, pre-pandemic summer.

— Stephanie Babych (@BabychStephanie) February 3, 2021

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But Hinshaw clarifies says this person was following quarantine rules for the dominant strain, but this shows the current quarantine rules may not be as effective for the variant strains. Hence, a stay in a hotel to quarantine while waiting for test results is a good idea

— Anna Junker (@JunkerAnna) February 3, 2021

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“Let me be blunt, you have the luxury of circulating conspiracy theories — & hey, everyone needs a hobby so go for it — but as the premier of AB I have to be worried about whether or not we have capacity to manage the people piling up in our hospitals & fatalities,” Kenney says.

— Stephanie Babych (@BabychStephanie) February 3, 2021

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Kenney says contact tracers are able to investigate about 1,200 cases a day right now — but there aren’t that many needed per day at the moment.

Says he’s happy they’re on top of contact tracing now, especially with the contagious variants. But we can’t let variants spread.

— Stephanie Babych (@BabychStephanie) February 3, 2021

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Families demand improved safety as new COVID variant in Calgary school raises alarm

Sanitizers are provided for the students and teachers in a classroom in Henry Wise Wood High School on Friday, August 28, 2020. Sanitizers are provided for the students and teachers in a classroom in Henry Wise Wood High School on Friday, August 28, 2020.

With rising concerns around highly contagious COVID variants — including three confirmed cases in two Calgary schools — parents are demanding improved safety protocols to keep students and staff safer in classrooms.

But even as cases of new variants in Alberta jumped from 51 to 57 over the past day, health officials insist the highly contagious mutations, which have now affected three different classrooms, have not yet spread significantly.

Read more.

Made-in-Canada COVID vaccines are coming but won’t arrive until late 2021, Liberals say

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a news conference at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, to provide an update on the COVID-19 pandemic. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a news conference at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, to provide an update on the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced plans to finally produce COVID-19 vaccines on Canadian soil, but the shots won’t come until the end of the year and do little to help the country’s increasingly stalled vaccine efforts.

Trudeau announced two deals Tuesday, one with vaccine manufacturer Novavax and another with a Canadian company Precision Nanosystems.

Read more.

Four COVID-19 variant cases linked to outbreak at Alberta daycare centre

Four cases of the more infectious U.K. variant of COVID-19 are linked to an outbreak at an Alberta daycare, Alberta’s top doctor said Tuesday.

None of the cases are connected to travel, chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said.

“The link was just identified today and work is underway to notify parents and staff of this facility that the outbreak at this location may be at least partially caused by a variant strain,” Hinshaw said during her Tuesday update. “This is concerning, but it does mean we have a better chance of controlling spread when we understand the linkages between cases.”

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Hinshaw wouldn’t identify the provincial health zone where the daycare is located as the province works to notify parents and staff of the facility first. She also said that not all of the cases linked to the outbreak at the daycare have been tested for the variant.

There are a total of eight cases of the U.K. variant between five households with no known connection to travel, an increase of two from Monday, Hinshaw said.

“It’s clear as I mentioned yesterday that there is some transmission in the community that we are starting to pickup,” Hinshaw said. But there doesn’t seem to be widespread transmission “at this moment,” she added.

If a person w/ a variant case stays home during their isolation, their household contacts will now need to stay at home in a 14-day quarantine from the end of the case’s isolation period or a total of 24 days, Hinshaw says.

The variants spread effortlessly in homes.#COVID19AB

— Stephanie Babych (@BabychStephanie) February 2, 2021

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At this time, the outbreak at a daycare that has resulted in four variant cases is not linked to travel, according to Hinshaw.

They are investigating this outbreak.#COVID19AB

— Stephanie Babych (@BabychStephanie) February 2, 2021

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There are 50 total cases of the U.K. variant strain in Alberta, of which 36 are in returning travellers and six are close contacts of travellers. There are seven cases of the South African variant in Alberta, all linked to travel. The South African, U.K. and Brazil variant of the novel coronavirus are “variants of concern” for health officials, as they are more infectious than the initial strain of COVID-19.

“These variants are new but the public health response is not. We actively conduct contact tracing to ensure that anyone that is at risk to exposure of these variants is isolated and tested,” Hinshaw said. “In cases involving variants, we are being extra cautious to reduce the chances of infection spreading widely into the community.”

She said AHS has created a dedicated contact tracing team for variant cases with experienced investigators. The province’s lab screens 300 samples a day for variants of concern and performs “full genetic sequencing” on 400 samples per week; Hinshaw said work is underway to further expand this capacity.

Read more.

268 new cases, 13 deaths

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw provided, from Edmonton on Monday, February 1, 2021, an update on COVID-19. Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw provided, from Edmonton on Monday, February 1, 2021, an update on COVID-19. Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw gave an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province.

  • Over 107,400 doses of vaccine administered; 17,000 Albertans fully immunized
  • 268 new cases on 7,899 tests; ~3.5% positivity rate
  • 556 in hospital; 97 in ICUs
  • 13 additional deaths; 1,660 total
  • 6,912 active cases; 116,259 recovered
  • 305 schools with alerts or outbreaks; 726 cases in these schools
  • 50 cases of the U.K. variant in Alberta; 7 cases of the South African variant
  • 8 of U.K. variant cases in five different households have no connection to travel, but there is a link between four of these cases to a daycare outbreak
  • “Work is underway to notify parents and staff of this facility that the outbreak at this location may be partially caused by a variant strain,” Hinshaw said
  • Three classes in two Calgary-zone schools are isolating as the result of children of returning travellers attending school while infectious with U.K. variant
  • No evidence of spread of U.K. variant at schools, Hinshaw said
  • “There is some transmission (of the U.K. variant) in the community that we’re starting to pick up,” Hinshaw said. But it doesn’t seem to be wide spread at the moment, she added.

Hinshaw says there is no evidence at this time that the variants spread within schools — referencing the Calgary student who attended school while infectious with the variant.

She says there is extensive contact tracing and additional testing happening.#COVID19AB

— Stephanie Babych (@BabychStephanie) February 2, 2021

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Watch the full update below.

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Bushfire smoke blankets Australian city under COVID-19 lockdown

A state emergency worker (2nd L) talks to a fire crew as they head to fight a fire burning on a ridge being driven by strong winds in the suburb of Brigadoon in Perth on Feb. 2, 2021, just days after the west coast city entered a coronavirus lockdown. A state emergency worker (2nd L) talks to a fire crew as they head to fight a fire burning on a ridge being driven by strong winds in the suburb of Brigadoon in Perth on Feb. 2, 2021, just days after the west coast city entered a coronavirus lockdown. Photo by TREVOR COLLENS/AFP via Getty Images

Smoke haze covered Australia’s fourth largest city of Perth on Wednesday from a fast-moving bushfire that razed dozens of homes, complicating a tight lockdown after Western Australia state’s first COVID-19 case in more than 10 months.

Authorities said the hot, dry conditions that had fueled the fires in Perth’s northeastern suburbs had eased slightly overnight.

Read more.

‘Proceed cautiously’: Alberta’s reopening plan faces criticism with worries about COVID-19 variants

Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley, right, and David Shepherd, NDP Opposition health critic, respond to a COVID-19 update from Premier Jason Kenney, Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw during a press conference at the Federal Building in Edmonton on Nov. 12, 2020. Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley, right, and David Shepherd, NDP Opposition health critic, respond to a COVID-19 update from Premier Jason Kenney, Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw during a press conference at the Federal Building in Edmonton on Nov. 12, 2020. Photo by Dave DeGagne /supplied

Alberta’s Opposition NDP says the UCP government is lifting public health restrictions too quickly as more contagious COVID-19 variants are confirmed in the province.

The province has confirmed 51 cases of COVID-19 variants first identified in the United Kingdom and South Africa, including six cases in three different, unrelated households with no clear link to travel.

NDP Leader Rachel Notley said Tuesday the rising numbers are troubling, and called again on Premier Jason Kenney to provide case modelling and evidence showing that it’s safe to begin a phased re-opening.

Read more.

Local vaccine companies left out of federal funding announcement, but remain hopeful

Northern RNA’s Brad Stevens, left, and Brad Sorenson, at the company’s facility in northeast Calgary. Northern RNA’s Brad Stevens, left, and Brad Sorenson, at the company’s facility in northeast Calgary. Photo by Gavin Young/Postmedia

Two partner companies that aim to develop COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing capacity in Calgary remain hopeful they will receive government support, even as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a deal that will see millions of doses produced in Montreal instead.

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Speaking from Ottawa Tuesday, Trudeau said the federal government has reached a deal with U.S.-based Novavax, which is in the clinical trials phase with its vaccine. If Health Canada approves it, a new National Research Council facility in Montreal will begin pumping out Novavax doses when the building is finished later this year.

Federal grants have also gone out to vaccine facilities in Saskatchewan and Vancouver.

But Trudeau said nothing about Northern RNA, a Calgary-based company that aims to develop vaccine manufacturing capacity in this city. Northern RNA has partnered with Providence Therapeutics, a Canadian biotechnology company with offices in Calgary and Toronto, which has begun Phase I trials of its own vaccine.

Read more.

‘Emergency brake’ factored into Alberta’s reopening plan, says Hinshaw

A closed sign in Bridgeland on Wednesday, May 13, 2020. A closed sign in Bridgeland on Wednesday, May 13, 2020. Photo by Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

COVID-19 hospitalizations are the focus of Alberta’s road map for gradually opening up more businesses and activities, but the province’s top doctor says a different criteria will factor into whether to slow down or tighten up.

Hospitalizations are a lagging indicator. It could be weeks between cases being identified and those people being sick enough to need medical care. It’s a less-than-current snapshot of how the novel coronavirus is spreading.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health, said Monday the plan is to monitor leading indicators such as new case numbers, test positivity rates and how many new infections result from each case.

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“Those almost act as sort of an emergency brake,” she said.

Read more.

Britain’s Captain Tom Moore, 100, dies after testing positive for coronavirus

World War II veteran Captain Tom Moore, during a lap of his garden in the village of Marston Moretaine on April 16, 2020. World War II veteran Captain Tom Moore, during a lap of his garden in the village of Marston Moretaine on April 16, 2020. Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images

Captain Tom Moore, the British World War Two veteran who raised millions of pounds for health service workers on the frontline of the battle against COVID-19, has died aged 100, his family said on Tuesday.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our dear father, Captain Sir Tom Moore,” his daughters said in a statement.

Moore died on Tuesday morning at Bedford Hospital. He had tested positive for COVID-19 on Jan. 22 and was fighting pneumonia. Over the last five years, Moore had been receiving treatment for prostate and skin cancer, his family said.

He had not been vaccinated against COVID-19 due to the other medication he was taking.

Read more.

Canada signs deal with Novavax to make its COVID-19 vaccine at new Montreal facility

The new National Research Council facility in Montreal, on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021. The facility will begin producing Novavax doses of COVID-19 vaccine when the building is finished later this year. The new National Research Council facility in Montreal, on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021. The facility will begin producing Novavax doses of COVID-19 vaccine when the building is finished later this year. Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a tentative deal Tuesday with U.S. vaccine-maker Novavax to produce its product in Canada if the COVID-19 vaccine gets approved for use here.

“This is a major step forward to get vaccines made in Canada, for Canadians,” Trudeau said.

But the agreement isn’t going to ease pressure on the government to get vaccines into Canada, because Novavax first has to get its vaccine approved, the National Research Council has to finish building a new facility in Montreal where the doses will be made, and that facility has to be certified to make the vaccines.

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Alberta’s tally of cases with COVID-19 variants reaches 51

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021. Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021. Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta

Six people from three unrelated households in Alberta have tested positive for the highly-contagious COVID-19 variants though they have no link to recent travel at this time, Alberta’s top doctor explained Monday.

Another 14 cases of the United Kingdom and South Africa variants of the novel coronavirus have been identified in Alberta since Friday’s update. However, several of the cases are historical as labs screen test samples for the mutations.

“We’re following up and ensuring that with each of those cases, there was no onward spread. But it is not an escalating number from the perspective of local transmission,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, during Monday’s press conference.

What people can do right now to prevent the variants from spreading rapidly is follow the COVID-19 measures in place closely, Hinshaw added.

Read more.

COVID-19 developments around the country

Students and parents file past school buses near Eagle Heights public school in London, Ont., on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. Students and parents file past school buses near Eagle Heights public school in London, Ont., on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. Photo by Mike Hensen/Postmedia

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says there are signs of community spread of COVID-19 variants in several provinces. Tam says 148 cases of the mutations that first emerged in the United Kingdom and South Africa have been confirmed across the country, even as overall coronavirus case counts continue to decline. Tam says that provincial officials should be very cautious about relaxing safety measures, as the U.K. and South African strains are highly contagious.

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Ontario says supply delays mean it won’t meet its goal of giving all nursing-home residents the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Friday. The province says it will now take until Feb. 10 to give the first shot to all long-term care, high-risk retirement and First Nations eldercare home residents.

Ontario’s daily COVID-19 case count is lower than expected because of a data issue. Ontario is reporting 745 new cases of the virus today, which it says does not include data from Toronto as the city transfers its information to the provincial database system.

Quebec is reporting 1,053 new COVID-19 infections and 38 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including seven in the previous 24 hours. The numbers come ahead of an evening news conference during which Premier Francois Legault is expected to ease restrictions across the province.

COVID-19 by the numbers

The South Health Campus in Calgary on Nov. 12. The South Health Campus in Calgary on Nov. 12. Photo by Brendan Miller/Postmedia

After spate of COVID-19 deaths, union demands province take over Calgary-area care homes

AgeCare Skypointe nursing home was photographed on Saturday, Dec. 26, 2020. AgeCare Skypointe nursing home was photographed on Saturday, Dec. 26, 2020. Photo by Azin Ghaffari /Postmedia

The province should assume operation of a chain of Calgary-area long-term care homes that have experienced nearly 80 COVID-19 deaths, says a union representing many of its workers.

The four facilities in Calgary and Strathmore operated by AgeCare are a stark reminder of the shortcomings of for-profit long-term care, said Mike Dempsey, vice-president of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE).

Read more.

U.K. variant has spontaneously mutated again

An illustration of the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19. An illustration of the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19. Photo by CDC

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The coronavirus mutation “of most concern” has occurred spontaneously in the U.K. variant, a professor of outbreak medicine who is part of a panel that advises the British government said on Tuesday.

The E484K mutation, which occurs on the spike protein of the virus, is the same change as has been seen in the South African and Brazilian variants that have caused international concern.

“The mutation of most concern, which we call E484K, has also occurred spontaneously in the new Kent strain in parts of the country too,” said Calum Semple, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, said on BBC radio.

Read more.

All Albertans who must self-isolate due to COVID-19 can now access hotel rooms at no cost

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All Albertans who must self-isolate due to COVID-19 can now access hotel rooms paid for by the province and will be eligible for $625 once they complete the self-isolation.

Alberta Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver said Monday those who need to isolate but are unable to do so safely at home are eligible upon referral by Alberta Health Services.

It’s an expansion of an outreach program first announced in December aimed at communities hard-hit by COVID-19 in Edmonton and Calgary, in part because of multi-generational living arrangements and cultural barriers.

Read more.

Criminal rings are selling fake COVID-19 test certificates at international airports, police warn

People queue to enter Terminal 2 at Heathrow Airport as tighter rules for international travellers start amid the COVID-19 pandemic, London, Britain, January 18, 2021. People queue to enter Terminal 2 at Heathrow Airport as tighter rules for international travellers start amid the COVID-19 pandemic, London, Britain, January 18, 2021. Photo by Henry Nicholls/Reuters/File

As if there isn’t enough worry over international travel and emerging variants of COVID-19, European police are warning that fraudulent test certificates are being sold to international travellers to skirt pandemic restrictions.

Illicit sales of fake certificates declaring passengers have tested negative for COVID-19 have been uncovered in Britain, France, Spain and the Netherlands, resulting in arrests, including some inside airports.

Canada, like several countries, require arriving air passengers to provide proof of a negative pre-departure test before entry to curtail the spread of COVID-19. As virus variants emerge, more countries are requiring official COVID-free declarations from travellers.

Read more.

Diabetes–COVID link still a mystery as researchers race for answer

“We’ve definitely seen an uptick in patients who are newly diagnosed” with diabetes, said Dr. Mihail Zilbermint of Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Md. “We’ve definitely seen an uptick in patients who are newly diagnosed” with diabetes, said Dr. Mihail Zilbermint of Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Md. Photo by Amanda Andrade-Rhoades /For The Washington Post

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Mihail Zilbermint is used to treating diabetes — he heads a special team that cares for patients with the metabolic disorder at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Md. But as the hospital admitted increasing numbers of patients with COVID-19, his caseload ballooned.

“Before, we used to manage maybe 18 patients per day,” he said. Now his team cares for as many as 30 daily.

Many of those patients had no prior history of diabetes. Some who developed elevated blood sugar while they had COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, returned to normal by the time they left the hospital. Others went home with a diagnosis of full-blown diabetes. “We’ve definitely seen an uptick in patients who are newly diagnosed,” Zilbermint said.

Read more.

Monday

Penalties remain to be seen for Edmonton-area church defying public health orders

GraceLife Church in Parkland County defied Alberta government public gathering restrictions on the weekend and held a church service where almost 300 people attended, many without face masks and ignoring social distancing regulations. GraceLife Church in Parkland County defied Alberta government public gathering restrictions on the weekend and held a church service where almost 300 people attended, many without face masks and ignoring social distancing regulations. Photo by Larry Wong /Postmedia

The legal consequences remain to be seen for an Edmonton-area church that defied public health orders by holding a Sunday service for about 300 people.

Despite being issued an immediate closure order from Alberta Health Services (AHS) Friday afternoon and AHS inspectors and police on site, GraceLife Church opened its doors Sunday, allowing more than the 15 per cent capacity limit currently in place.

The closure order cited conditions that are dangerous to public health at the church, which is a few minutes west of the city in Parkland County.

Read more.

Monday

355 new cases, 10 additional deaths

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, provided an update on the COVID-19 pandemic.

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  • 106,000 doses of vaccine administered; 16,200 Albertans fully immunized
  • 355 new cases on 7,300 tests; 4.9% positivity rate
  • 556 in hospital; 102 in ICUs
  • 10 additional deaths; 1,649 total
  • 7,387 active cases; 115,527 recovered
  • 51 cases combined of the U.K. and South African variant strain, an increase of 14 cases from Friday
  • Provincial lab can screen 300 samples per day for variants of concern and full genome testing on 400 samples per week to look for additional variants, Hinshaw says
  • Active alerts or outbreaks in 298 schools or 12% of schools in province; 701 cases in these schools
  • In-school transmission in 66 schools; 51 had only a single case of in-school transmission
  • 71 cases in school-aged Albertans per week, down from 131 the week before school resumed in-person learning

Hinshaw says there are two possible reasons for the lower testing numbers we’ve been seeing recently. First, there might be fewer symptomatic people right now. Second, some people might just be staying home when they’re feeling unwell, and aren’t going for a test.#COVID19AB

— Stephanie Babych (@BabychStephanie) February 1, 2021

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Of the 51 cases of the COVID-19 variants, 6 cases in 3 unrelated houses that don’t have clear links to travel. The rest are related directly to travel.

Hinshaw says there isn’t evidence the variants are spreading widely within the community yet.#COVID19AB

— Stephanie Babych (@BabychStephanie) February 1, 2021

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