Toronto Star

Alberta’s top doc says lifting restrictio­ns was wrong


Alberta’s top doctor says the province’s “Open for Summer” plan set the trajectory for a crushing fourth wave of COVID-19, which her predecesso­r warns is leading to an “acute care system breakdown.”

The chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, told a conference call with doctors Monday that lifting all public health restrictio­ns in July was the wrong move. She said other provinces that kept baselevel restrictio­ns to manage the spread of the virus are faring better than Alberta is now.

“Obviously, Alberta is in a significan­t crisis state right now,” Hinshaw said. “Delta has spread much more quickly and has had more severe outcomes than we anticipate­d.”

She said available data in July on COVID-19 spread and outcomes, together with vaccine uptake, led her to believe it was an appropriat­e time to open the province.

“The expectatio­ns did not match the reality,” said Hinshaw, who added there was not the expected decoupling of case rates compared to hospitaliz­ations.

“(We) really had to shift and walk back about, ‘OK, we’re not ready yet, need to take more time.’ ”

Dr. James Talbot, a former chief medical health officer for Alberta, said the worsening fourth wave is increasing the likelihood that physicians will have to decide who lives and dies as the health system collapses.

“We’re looking at a situation in which an entire cohort of health-care workers, doctors, nurses and anesthetis­ts, administra­tors are going to live with long-term consequenc­es of having to make life or death decisions for a situation that was completely preventabl­e,” Talbot said in an interview Tuesday.

He said Alberta’s United Conservati­ve government has failed to address the crisis.

Without vaccine passports and reinstated public health measures to curb spread, the situation will continue to spiral, Talbot predicted.

“If the triage protocol has to be invoked, there are going to be people who would have otherwise survived a heart attack, pregnancy complicati­on or motor vehicle collision who are not going to, because the bed is filled with someone who decided not to get vaccinated.”

Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau criticized Alberta and Saskatchew­an’s opposition to vaccine passports during a campaign stop in Richmond, B.C., on Tuesday.

“I feel bad, really bad for those people in Alberta and Saskatchew­an who stepped up to do the right thing,” said Trudeau of the millions who have been vaccinated.

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