COVID-19 Live Updates: News on coronavirus in Calgary for Jan. 10

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

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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.

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What’s happening now

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Help us tell the COVID-19 story in Calgary

Just when it seemed like things were getting back to normal, Omicron has changed everything. We’d like to hear from you on this latest wave of the virus.

  • If you are a healthcare worker, how does Omicron compare with past COVID-19 waves?
  • Did you or someone you know catch Omicron over the holidays? If so, how did you fare?

Contact us by sending an email to reply@calgaryherald.com or send your comments via this form .


Calgary parents torn as kids head back to class amid Omicron surge

A snow-covered playground at Mount View School in northeast Calgary. The Christmas break has been extended to Jan. 10 as COVID-19 cases spike in Alberta.
A snow-covered playground at Mount View School in northeast Calgary. The Christmas break has been extended to Jan. 10 as COVID-19 cases spike in Alberta. Photo by Gavin Young/Postmedia

Calgary grade school students are heading back to class today after a COVID-extended winter break, but as the virus’s Omicron variant continues to spread at high rates, not all parents are sure it’s the best decision.

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“Am I a bad parent for sending my son to school or am I a bad parent for keeping him at home? I don’t know what’s worse,” said Calgary parent Marcello Di Cintio, whose 12-year-old son will be going back to class Monday morning.

“Choosing between two terrible choices, it keeps me up at night.”

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange announced Wednesday K-12 students will return to in-person learning despite the continued and hastening spread of Omicron, assuring the delivery of millions of rapid test kits and new “medical grade” masks to schools by the end of the week. She and chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the mental health and education benefits of going to school in person outweigh the risks of COVID infections in children.

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COVID hospitalizations nearing or reaching record highs in several provinces

COVID-19 cases are threatening to overwhelm hospitals in several parts of Canada, with hospitalizations nearing or reaching record highs in Quebec, Ontario, and New Brunswick.

Former CEO of the University Health Network and Ontario deputy health minister Dr. Bob Bell says every Western country dealing with COVID’s fast-spreading Omicron variant has a stressed hospital system right now.

Read more. 


‘Deltacron’ is a new COVID-19 strain and not a lab error, Cypriot scientist says

It remains unknown whether ‘Deltacron’ is a more contagious or dangerous strain than its component variants, said Leonidos Kostrikis, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Cyprus.
It remains unknown whether ‘Deltacron’ is a more contagious or dangerous strain than its component variants, said Leonidos Kostrikis, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Cyprus. Photo by POSTMEDIA ARCHIVES

A Cypriot scientist defended his discovery in 25 patients of a new strain of Covid-19 that combines characteristics of the delta and omicron variants.

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Other scientists have speculated that Leonidos Kostrikis’s findings are a result of laboratory contamination.But Kostrikis told Bloomberg in an emailed statement Sunday that the cases he has identified “indicate an evolutionary pressure to an ancestral strain to acquire these mutations and not a result of a single recombination event.”Eleven of the patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 and 14 remained among the general public.

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Sunday

Canada resists pressure to drop vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers

FILE PHOTO: Manitoba-based truckers, transporting goods to and from the United States, are being vaccinated against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as part of a deal between the Canadian province and the state of North Dakota, at a rest stop near Drayton, North Dakota, U.S. April 22, 2021.
FILE PHOTO: Manitoba-based truckers, transporting goods to and from the United States, are being vaccinated against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as part of a deal between the Canadian province and the state of North Dakota, at a rest stop near Drayton, North Dakota, U.S. April 22, 2021. Photo by REUTERS/Dan Koeck

OTTAWA — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is pushing ahead with a vaccine mandate for international truckers despite increasing pressure from critics who say it will exacerbate driver shortages and drive up the price of goods imported from the United States.

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Canada will require all truckers entering from the United States to show proof of vaccination starting on Saturday as part of its fight against COVID-19.

That could force some 16,000, or 10 per cent, of cross-border drivers off the roads, the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) estimates. The government estimates five per cent of drivers will be impacted, according to a government source.

The mandate is the first policy measure taken since the pandemic began that could limit cross-border trucking traffic. Trucks crossed the border freely when the border was closed for 20 months because they were considered essential to keep supply chains flowing.

“We don’t anticipate significant disruptions or shortages for Canadians,” the source said.

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Saturday

Omicron cannot be underestimated, says infectious disease expert after leak of Alberta modelling

Passengers are seen at the Chinook LRT Station along the city’s Red Line. Thursday, January 6, 2022.
Passengers are seen at the Chinook LRT Station along the city’s Red Line. Thursday, January 6, 2022. Photo by Brendan Miller /Postmedia

Leaked Alberta Health Services modelling that shows a large spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations should be a warning to the public not to underestimate the Omicron variant, said an infectious disease expert out of the University of Manitoba.

The screenshot, shared Friday night on social media, shows three projections of rising hospitalizations due to the novel coronavirus in Alberta, and even the most cautious projection suggests the province could have 968 non-intensive-care patients in hospital within 14 days. The modelling did not show ICU projections.

To this point, the common refrain had been that while Omicron is far more transmissible than previous variants it does not come with as high a risk of severe outcomes.

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“You don’t want people to get overly scared of what they’re seeing because there are a lot of things we don’t know, but we also don’t want them to underestimate what Omicron is,” said Dr. Jason Kindrachuk in an interview with Postmedia on Saturday. “I think we just need to take it seriously.”

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Saturday

‘Depending on the rumour mill’: Rapid test kits scarce in Alberta

People line up to get a free box of five COVID-19 Antigen rapid tests at a Capilano pharmacy on Friday, Dec. 17, 2021.
People line up to get a free box of five COVID-19 Antigen rapid tests at a Capilano pharmacy on Friday, Dec. 17, 2021. Photo by Greg Southam /Postmedia

Pharmacies across the province are completely out of rapid test kits to detect COVID-19, according to data collected by the Alberta Blue Cross, and the government says additional supplies for pharmacies aren’t expected until at least Jan 17.

The website for Albertans to find the free kits at pharmacies shows zero available tests in Edmonton, Calgary and Red Deer. The site was not updated at all over the first week of January.

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Renee Ignacio, a spokesperson for Alberta Blue Cross,  which manages and updates the site,  says they get their information on pharmacy supply from Alberta Health.

“At this time, the information we have is that all pharmacies in the province have used their supply and this has been the case for the last week,” he said Friday.

“When new shipments are sent to pharmacies, our site will be updated to reflect the new information.”

Read more.


Saturday

Cargill meat plant linked to 44 COVID-19 cases in latest outbreak: Union

A sign is shown outside the Cargill facility in High River, AB, south of Calgary on Wednesday, May 6, 2020.
A sign is shown outside the Cargill facility in High River, AB, south of Calgary on Wednesday, May 6, 2020. Photo by Jim Wells /Postmedia file

The Cargill meat-packing plant near High River has been linked to 44 cases of COVID-19 in the latest outbreak at the site, says the union representing the plant workers.

Scott Payne, spokesperson for United Food and Commercial Workers Local No. 401, confirmed the latest number of cases at the site. Payne shared a letter UFCW sent to employers for all workers they represent to discuss a number of safety protocols to be put in place as the Omicron variant is driving cases to record highs.

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The letter asked employers if they had completed independent ventilation and air quality assessments at their worksites and if they would provide high-quality masks to employees. The letter also asked if sick pay and absence from the workplace had been adjusted and if rapid testing was being done at their worksites.

Payne said Cargill has not yet responded to the letter.

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Saturday

Kevin J. Johnston transported to Calgary after being detained by U.S. Border Patrol

Kevin J. Johnston
Kevin J. Johnston Photo by Postmedia

Former Calgary fringe mayoral candidate Kevin J. Johnston has been returned to Calgary after being detained by U.S. Border Patrol agents on Jan. 4.

Johnston had been seeking asylum in the U.S. after warrants for his arrest had been issued in both Alberta and Ontario.

His lawyer Ian McCuaig confirmed he had been transported to Calgary.

“Beyond that, there’s been no court appearances, to my knowledge there’s been no formal new charges laid — although I think anyone with common sense can anticipate there will be,” he said in an interview with Postmedia on Saturday.

The anti-masker and online radio show host had been serving a 40-day weekend-only sentence in Alberta for contempt, for breaching three court orders that he comply with public health measures such as masking during the third wave of COVID-19.

Read more.

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