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COVID-19 Live Updates: News on coronavirus in Calgary for March 24

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

Author of the article:

Newsroom Staff

Publishing date:

Mar 24, 2021  •  March 24, 2021  •  10 minute read  •  Join the conversation People walk past the vaccination centre sign at the Richmond Road Diagnostic and Treatment Centre on Wednesday, March 24, 2021. Photo by Gavin Young/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

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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 undergone a travel-related quarantine? Have you received your vaccine, and if so did you feel any side effects? Have you changed your life for the better because of the pandemic? 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.

Pharmacies in and around Calgary offering COVID-19 vaccine

This map shows 53 pharmacies in Calgary, Chestermere and Airdrie offering the COVID-19 vaccine. More locations will be added in the coming days, according to the provincial government. Appointments are still required and can be booked by contacting the participating pharmacies. Details on eligibility and booking can be found here.

Procurement minister tells MPs Canada’s COVID vaccines won’t be hit by Europe’s export bans

Federal Procurement Minister Anita Anand. Federal Procurement Minister Anita Anand. Photo by Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press/File

Procurement Minister Anita Anand assured MPs that despite growing reports of export restrictions in Europe Canada’s vaccine supply will not be hit and shots will continue to flow to provinces.

The European Union introduced legislation this week that would allow it to constrict exports of vaccines outside of the trading Bloc, and there were several reports India is also considering preventing vaccines from leaving its shores.

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Ontario company seeks licence to make generic Johnson and Johnson COVID vaccine for developing countries

Biolyse Pharma, which has been wanting to join the COVID-19 vaccine effort, has a new fill and finish line sitting idle, but capable of filling 400,000 glass vials per week. Biolyse Pharma, which has been wanting to join the COVID-19 vaccine effort, has a new fill and finish line sitting idle, but capable of filling 400,000 glass vials per week. Photo by Courtesy Biolyse Pharma

A St. Catharines, Ont., company that says it could have played a role vaccinating Canadians against COVID-19 but was passed over, now wants the federal government’s help to vaccinate the developing world.

The company is hoping to tap a rarely used regulation to obtain a compulsory licence to manufacture Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine, overriding the company’s patent in an effort to rush more doses to developing countries.

Read more.

COVID-19 outbreak at Joey Eau Claire restaurant linked to 31 cases

The exterior of Joey Eau Claire location in Calgary on Wednesday, March 24, 2021. The restaurant has been shut down due to a COVID-19 outbreak that has affected 31 people. The exterior of Joey Eau Claire location in Calgary on Wednesday, March 24, 2021. The restaurant has been shut down due to a COVID-19 outbreak that has affected 31 people. Photo by Christopher Landry /Postmedia

A COVID-19 outbreak at the Joey Eau Claire restaurant has been linked to 31 cases, a spokesperson for the province confirmed Wednesday.

Of the 31 cases, 27 are still active while four are considered recovered. Eighteen have been identified as variants of concern, according to the spokesperson.

Alberta Health Services confirmed the restaurant voluntarily closed March 13. In a emailed statement, AHS said it will review public health protocols with the restaurant prior to its reopening, which is expected “later this week.”

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As variant numbers continue to rise, tightened restrictions possible: Hinshaw

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw provided, from Edmonton on Thursday, January 28, 2021, an update on COVID-19. Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw provided, from Edmonton on Thursday, January 28, 2021, an update on COVID-19. Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta

Tighter public health restrictions could be imposed if Alberta continues to see its current rise in COVID-19 cases, particularly from more infectious variants, Alberta’s top doctor said Wednesday.

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Alberta recorded its largest single daily count of variant cases Wednesday — 202 — though that number came from more than one day of swabbing, said Alberta Health officials.

That eclipsed the largest number of 197 recorded the previous day.

And the province also recorded its first two community-acquired cases of the P.1 variant, a strain originating in Brazil, said Dr. Deena Hinshaw.

Those infections brought the total number of variant cases recorded in Alberta to 2,110 — well over double the count of the 920 logged by March 15.

Read more.

Calgary hospitals preparing for expected surge of COVID-19 patients

The Peter Lougheed Centre hospital was photographed on Wednesday, March 24, 2021. The Peter Lougheed Centre hospital was photographed on Wednesday, March 24, 2021. Photo by Gavin Young/Postmedia

Calgary’s hospitals are preparing for an expected surge of COVID-19 patients as cases, variant cases and hospitalizations climb across the province.

After managing two previous waves, one in early 2020 and a second in late fall, Alberta Health Services is able to quickly adapt to changes in patient demand and continue to carefully monitor the current situation, AHS said in a statement.

Alberta remains far from the peak of hospitalizations documented in December, but hospital admissions of COVID-19 patients are gradually increasing.

Read more.

Pandemic-weary business owners in Alberta attend virtual seminar to better navigate applying for federal COVID-19 aid

Only about 33 per cent of all industries in Alberta received federal COVID-19 relief funding from CEWS and 53 per cent for CEBA, according to a November business survey by Statistics Canada and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. Businesses say they are intimidated by the complex language used in the application process and also by threats to crack down on fraudulent claims. Only about 33 per cent of all industries in Alberta received federal COVID-19 relief funding from CEWS and 53 per cent for CEBA, according to a November business survey by Statistics Canada and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. Businesses say they are intimidated by the complex language used in the application process and also by threats to crack down on fraudulent claims. Photo by Justin Tang/The Canadian Press/File

A pandemic-weary business crowd has better tools to navigate applying for federal COVID-19 relief funding after a Wednesday virtual seminar hosted by the Alberta Chamber of Commerce.

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About 200 business owners attended the online workshop following numerous reports about how subsidy programs such as the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) are not being fully utilized.

Roughly 33 per cent of all industries in Alberta received funding from CEWS and 53 per cent for CEBA, according to a November business survey by Statistics Canada and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. Less than one-quarter took advantage of the 10 per cent wage subsidy.

Read more.

Can’t sleep? U of A expert offers tips to combat pandemic insomnia

Woman lying in bed suffering from insomnia. Stock image. Getty Images/iStock Photo Stock; woman; clock; insomnia; sleep Woman lying in bed suffering from insomnia. Stock image. Getty Images/iStock Photo Stock; woman; clock; insomnia; sleep Photo by KatarzynaBialasiewicz /Getty Images/iStockphoto

Having trouble sleeping during the COVID-19 pandemic? A University of Alberta expert says you are not alone and there is help to combat sleep disruption.

Cary Brown, a sleep researcher and occupational therapist, said a study out of the United States had more than 40 per cent of participants reporting insomnia during the pandemic. There may be a number of factors contributing to why people are sleeping less.

Read more.

692 new cases, two deaths

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

  • 692 new cases on ~12,800 tests; 5.3% positivity rate
  • 285 in hospitals; 53 in ICUs
  • Two deaths
  • 202 new variant cases; variants are 19% of active cases
  • The first community-acquired cases of the P1 variant first identified in Brazil have been found; two were reported yesterday
  • Active alerts or outbreaks in 363 schools; 1,550 cases in these schools since Jan. 11

Hinshaw says an unvaccinated person in Alberta between the ages of 20 and 49 has a 500 times higher risk of dying on average than having a blood clot after immunization. #COVID19AB

— Jon Roe (@theJonRoe) March 24, 2021

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Braid: In face of E.U. export bans, Canada’s mediocrity may keep vaccine shipments coming

Alberta Health workers handle a shipment of AstraZeneca vaccine on March 9, 2021, in this photo on Health Minister Tyler Shandro’s Twitter account. Alberta Health workers handle a shipment of AstraZeneca vaccine on March 9, 2021, in this photo on Health Minister Tyler Shandro’s Twitter account. Photo by Twitter

Columnist Don Braid writes:

Canada’s vaccine supply depends entirely on “the kindness of strangers,” to misuse the great line from the Tennessee Williams play.

There is no single COVID-19 vaccine dose that isn’t made and shipped from somewhere else, mostly Europe. And vaccine nationalism is intensifying there.

On Thursday the European Union is expected to decide on new measures that could potentially block exports.

Canada is not on the E.U. list of more than 100 countries officially exempted from export bans. This doesn’t mean Canada will be deprived, but certainly suggests it’s possible.

Read more.

Traveller allegedly produced fake COVID test result at Pearson airport

Travellers await transportation to a COVID-19 quarantine hotel after arriving at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, Wednesday February 24, 2021. Travellers await transportation to a COVID-19 quarantine hotel after arriving at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, Wednesday February 24, 2021. Photo by Peter J. Thompson/National Post

A 45-year-old man has been charged for allegedly presenting a phony COVID-19 document after landing on an international flight at Toronto Pearson Airport over the weekend.

Peel Regional Police say officers were called in to assist the Canada Border Services Agency around 4 p.m. on Sunday after the traveller’s COVID-19 test result document was flagged.

The Edmonton man was arrested and charged with unlawfully knowingly using a forged document.

Read more.

Alberta reaches the half-million mark on doses administered

Minister of Health Tyler Shandro speaks to reporters from the Rockyview surgical centre in Calgary on March 5, 2021. Minister of Health Tyler Shandro speaks to reporters from the Rockyview surgical centre in Calgary on March 5, 2021. Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta

Health Minister Tyler Shandro said Alberta has now administered 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, meaning one-in-10 albertans has had at least one dose.

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“Alberta’s vaccine rollout keeps getting bigger and better,” said Shandro in a written statement. “More than 146,400 doses were administered during the last week, including more than 27,600 reported on March 21 alone.”

“Despite setbacks from the federal government, we are getting vaccines in the arms of Albertans as quickly and safely as possible. We are more than doubling the number of pharmacies offering vaccinations, with hundreds more participating, along with community physicians, in the coming weeks.”

Alberta has said everyone who wants the vaccine will get at least one does by the end of June. No vaccine has yet been approved for children.

WestJet to resume its pre-COVID Canadian network by late June

WestJet Boeing 737 aircraft are seen in storage at the Calgary International Airport on Tuesday. WestJet Boeing 737 aircraft are seen in storage at the Calgary International Airport on Tuesday. Photo by Gavin Young /Postmedia

WestJet announced Wednesday it will resume flights to five eastern locations this summer after pausing service due to COVID-19.

Flights to Charlottetown, Fredericton, Moncton, Sydney and Quebec City will begin again on June 24. The company had pressed pause on those flights in November of last year.

Also, flights between St. John’s and Halifax will resume on May 6, and flights between St. John’s and Toronto will resume on June 24.

The return of service to those locations by late June will restore the airline’s full network of pre-COVID-19 airports in Canada, it said.

In February, WestJet also temporarily halted flights to Lloydminster, Medicine Hat and London, Ont. with a promise to restart those services on June 24. Customers can book flights to those cities as of June 24 on the WestJet website.

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Earlier this year, WestJet CEO Ed Simms said the company’s flight volumes were down 90 per cent year-over-year because of reduced demand for travel due to COVID-19.

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COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths in Alberta

The Calgary South Health Campus on March 1, 2021. The Calgary South Health Campus on March 1, 2021. Photo by Brendan Miller/Postmedia

Tuesday

Additional vaccine supply is expected next week. As soon as vaccine becomes available, Siksika Health Services will continue offering immunization to individuals 40+, with certain chronic conditions, and to essential service workers.

— Siksika Nation (@Siksika_Nation) March 24, 2021

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Tuesday

Alberta expands rapid testing program as province reports 197 new variant cases

A paramedic conducts a rapid antigen test at a COVID-19 testing station in this file photo. A paramedic conducts a rapid antigen test at a COVID-19 testing station in this file photo. Photo by Sean Gallup /Getty Images

Alberta’s rapid testing program is expanding to include businesses, not-for-profits and service providers as the government looks to distribute about two million rapid tests to employers.

The expansion of rapid testing will offer workers peace of mind and help slow the spread of COVID-19 in workplaces, Jim Dewald, dean of the Haskayne School of Business, explained Tuesday. Haskayne has participated in a national pilot program that’s tested rapid screening with 12 large Canadian companies, like Suncor and Scotiabank.

“It’s given their staff a much higher level of confidence. It’s a morale booster because workers know the company is concerned about their health and they feel more comfortable that they aren’t unknowingly spreading the virus,” said Dewald.

The rapid testing kits help to identify pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals so they can isolate themselves earlier and prevent further spread of the novel coronavirus.

Read more.

Tuesday

465 new cases, three deaths

Alberta’s latest COVID-19 numbers were delayed by a technical issue. There was no live update on Tuesday afternoon from chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw.

The latest numbers:

  • 465 new cases on 7,328 tests; 6.6% positivity rate
  • 290 in hospital; 53 in ICUs
  • Three deaths; 1,971 deaths
  • 6,231 active cases; 134,653 recovered
  • 197 new variant cases

There are 6,231 active cases in Alberta. About 18% of these active cases are variant cases.

Looking at where the active cases are by AHS zone:
– Calgary zone: 2,724
– Edmonton zone: 1,378
– South zone: 800
– North zone: 740
– Central zone: 578#COVID19AB

— Stephanie Babych (@BabychStephanie) March 24, 2021

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Tuesday

Braid: Government gets cap on pay but doctors’ vote on deal in doubt

The inside of a doctor’s office in Alberta. The inside of a doctor’s office in Alberta. Photo by The Canadian Press

Columnist Don Braid writes:

The government and the Alberta Medical Association have agreed to the figure, but there’s no guarantee the majority of AMA members will approve.

The stakes are enormous here. Rejection of the deal by doctors would again throw the whole system into the kind of bitter conflict we saw in 2020, after the government unilaterally scrapped the existing compensation agreement.

Read more.

Tuesday

Government officials mum on what further steps can be taken on church that has continuously defied public health orders

Pastor James Coates walks out of the Edmonton Remand Centre and is greeted by a group of supporters on Monday, March 22, 2021. Pastor James Coates walks out of the Edmonton Remand Centre and is greeted by a group of supporters on Monday, March 22, 2021. Photo by Ed Kaiser /Postmedia

Various levels of government are remaining coy over what steps might next be considered to enforce public health orders after fines, charges and even jail time have had little deterrence on large gatherings at a church’s services west of Edmonton.

GraceLife Church’s membership has continued to gather for Sunday services despite RCMP officers and Alberta Health Services inspectors appearing each week to ensure public health measures aimed at stemming the spread of COVID-19 are followed. RCMP has issued several releases saying those measures were not followed while they were on scene.

Read more.

Tuesday

Only 1.5% of air travellers tested positive for COVID-19: Health Canada

WestJet Boeing 737 aircraft are seen in storage at the Calgary International Airport on Tuesday, March 23, 2021.Gavin Young/Postmedia WestJet Boeing 737 aircraft are seen in storage at the Calgary International Airport on Tuesday, March 23, 2021.Gavin Young/Postmedia Gavin Young/Postmedia

Only a small percentage of travellers entering Canada since the end of February tested positive for COVID-19.

Health Canada data obtained by the Toronto Sun on Tuesday shows that 640 of the 44,089 travellers who arrived in Canada by air between Feb. 22 and March 15 tested positive for COVID-19.

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Tuesday

Hinshaw says shipment delay should not affect current vaccine appointments

A quick #COVID19AB vaccine update: We’ve been informed that there’s been a delay in picking up the next Moderna vaccine shipments out of Belgium. This will delay their arrival into Canada and ultimately Alberta by a day or two. (1/3)

— Dr. Deena Hinshaw (@CMOH_Alberta) March 23, 2021

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Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Tuesday that there has been a delay in picking up Moderna vaccine shipments from Belgium, but this won’t affect people who have already booked their appointments.

“While delays are disappointing, this should not impact any existing bookings,” wrote HInshaw in a tweet. “Some pharmacies have been cancelling or re-booking appointments because of last week’s delay in Moderna vaccine. But these two are unrelated.”

She said while delays are frustrating, shipments continue to roll in and the province anticipates having a first shot for everyone by the end of June.

I know it’s frustrating to have delays, and we’re frustrated too. This is unavoidable when there’s a limited supply. The good news is that everyone will get a vaccine soon and we will have enough to immunize every adult by the end of June. (3/3)

— Dr. Deena Hinshaw (@CMOH_Alberta) March 23, 2021

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