Toronto Star

Alberta explores using Red Cross field hospitals


CALGARY—In Alberta, a COVID-19 vaccine can’t arrive soon enough.

With coronaviru­s cases rising at an alarming rate — and a Red Cross field hospital being explored as an option — provincial officials told a news conference Wednesday the day that doses will become available is “almost here.”

Alberta has more active COVID-19 cases than any other province or territory as daily counts that rival Ontario’s, a province with three times the population, have become the norm.

“We know that effective vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna will be ready for distributi­on here in Canada within weeks,” Premier Jason Kenney said during a news conference.

“While we cannot control when these vaccines arrive in Alberta, we can make sure that when we get them, we are ready to roll them out as quickly as we can.”

While the federal government has been tight-lipped on exact dates, Kenney said Alberta officials have been told the first shipment will arrive as early as Jan 5.

But while Alberta readies for a vaccine, some worry that the calvary may not come in time.

Doctors have previously told the Star that the hospital system has begun to buckle under the pressure, with staff resorting to unconventi­onal tactics such as “double bunking” patients in already stretched intensive care units.

Workers on the front line have also raised concerns there will not be enough health-care workers, and in some cases crucial supplies such as oxygen, to take care of patients in critical condition.

CBC revealed Wednesday that the province has reached out to both the federal government and the Canadian Red Cross for help as both cases and hospitaliz­ations have begun to surge at alarming rates. Officials dismissed the report as responsibl­e planning while saying it was no part of formal plans yet.

According to CBC, an official from Public Safety Canada said it had not received any requests for field hospitals from other provinces or territorie­s.

But Kenney said that planning for vaccines has been underway for months, so that Alberta will be well prepared get them to those who need them, quickly.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada