COVID-19 Update: Vaccines to roll out for Alberta kids late next week | 412 new cases, two deaths | Critics slam Ottawa’s testing strategy at border – Calgary Herald

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

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Newsroom Staff

Publishing date:

Nov 19, 2021  •  15 minutes ago  •  11 minute read  •  5 Comments

Bridgette Melo, 5, receives a reduced dose of the Pfizer BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine during a trial at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, September 28, 2021.
Bridgette Melo, 5, receives a reduced dose of the Pfizer BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine during a trial at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, September 28, 2021. Photo by Shawn Rocco/Duke University/Handout via Reuters

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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Share your COVID-19 stories

As Alberta grapples with a fourth wave of COVID-19 at the start of another school year, we’re looking to hear your stories on this evolving situation.

  • Are you or a loved one seeking medical care outside the country after facing a cancelled surgery here?
  • Are you someone who has decided to get vaccinated after previously being skeptical of the vaccines?
  • Are you a frontline heath care worker seeing new strains on the health system?

Send us your stories via email at reply@calgaryherald.com or by using this online submission forum.


Alberta aims to start administering vaccine to kids late next week

Brendan Lo, 13, is vaccinated in New Hyde Park, New York, on May 13, 2021.
Brendan Lo, 13, is vaccinated in New Hyde Park, New York, on May 13, 2021. Photo by REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Alberta is aiming to begin administering vaccines to children aged five to 11 by late next week according to a release sent out Friday afternoon.

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Health Canada approved use of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in school-aged children this morning, and Canada had already made arrangements to get extra supply of the vaccine once that approval was made.

The province says it expects to get its new vaccine shipments sometime next week.

Parents can pre-register their children in the vaccine booking system in order to be ready when appointments become available.

“I know many Alberta families are breathing a collective sigh of relief knowing that we are now able to offer their children protection from COVID-19″ said Health Minister Jason Copping in a news release. “Our province has proven it is able to safely and quickly deliver significant volumes of doses, and this time will be no different. We are well-prepared to administer doses to children as soon as their parents and guardians are ready to book their appointments.”

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The province says children under 12 will still get access to restaurants and businesses taking part in the Vaccine Exemption Program, regardless of their vaccine status.


Alberta reports 412 new cases, two deaths

Here are updated COVID-19 numbers , released by Alberta Health Services on Friday afternoon:

  • Alberta reported a total of 412 new cases on Friday. The province has averaged 375 daily cases over the past seven days.
  • Another two COVID-related deaths have been reported to Alberta Health Services. There have been 87 deaths in November and 3,211 since the start of the pandemic.
  • There are 496 people in hospital with COVID-19, a drop of two from Thursday. There are 93 people in ICU, a drop of one.
  • There are 5,293 active infections in Alberta, a drop of 91 from Thursday. Although infections are declining, Alberta’s active rate is still the highest in the country, excluding northern territories.
  • The Calgary zone has 1,829 active infections, up 12 from Thursday.
  • There are eight outbreaks of two or more cases in continuing care facilities in the Calgary zone. There is currently an outbreak on one unit at Alberta Children’s Hospital, where three health-care workers have tested positive.
  • There were 8,948 tests completed on Wednesday, for a positivity rate of 4.7 per cent (seven-day average).

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Five things to know about the COVID-19 vaccine for kids aged five to 11

FILE PHOTO: A child reacts while receiving a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at Smoketown Family Wellness Center in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., November 8, 2021.
FILE PHOTO: A child reacts while receiving a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at Smoketown Family Wellness Center in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., November 8, 2021. Photo by JONATHAN CHERRY /REUTERS

With the approval of Canada’s first COVID-19 vaccine for kids, parents’ minds are no doubt flooded with questions about the best choice for their little ones.

Health Canada found the vaccine is safe for kids, and more than 90 per cent effective at preventing COVID-19 in children.

Health and government officials have started to answer some of the most pressing questions, now that they are preparing to roll out shots for kids.

Read more .


Market in China’s Wuhan likely origin of COVID-19 outbreak: study

A vendor wearing a face mask works in her market stall in Wuhan, in Chinas central Hubei province on May 21, 2020.
A vendor wearing a face mask works in her market stall in Wuhan, in Chinas central Hubei province on May 21, 2020. Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images

The first known COVID-19 case was a market vendor in the Chinese city of Wuhan, not an accountant who appeared to have no link to the market but whose case contributed to speculation the virus could have leaked from a lab, according to a U.S. study.

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The origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 remains a mystery and a major source of tension between China and the United States.

A joint study by China and the World Health Organization (WHO) this year all but ruled out the theory that COVID-19 originated in a laboratory, saying that the most likely hypothesis was that it infected humans naturally, probably via the wildlife trade.

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A ‘one-way door’: Ottawa goes slow on easing testing rule for Canada-U.S. travellers

PCR tests are the gold-standard for COVID-19 testing, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
PCR tests are the gold-standard for COVID-19 testing, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Photo by Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP via Getty Images/File

Ottawa is effectively installing “one-way” signs along the road to the Canada-U.S. border, critics complained Friday as the federal government promised to stop requiring costly COVID-19 tests to enter the country — but only for Canadian citizens and permanent residents returning from short-term visits.

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As of Nov. 30, fully vaccinated travellers who can enter Canada by right won’t be required to obtain a molecular test for COVID-19, such as a PCR test, if they’ve been in the United States for less than 72 hours, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos told a news conference.

“With more Canadians getting vaccinated every day, we can move forward, though cautiously, towards a more open border, economy and society,” Duclos said. “At the same time, we can’t let our guard down. Every one of us must work to protect the gains we have made.”

The PCR test requirement for American visitors to Canada, he added, will be re-evaluated in due course, with an update on any plans for adjustments “at a later date.”

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Poll finds strong support for vaccine passports for children

Charles Muro, 13, is given a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre in Hartford, Connecticut.
Charles Muro, 13, is given a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre in Hartford, Connecticut. Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images

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Now that Canada has approved a COVID-19 vaccine for kids age five to 11, provincial governments are left with the thorny issue of whether vaccine passports will be mandated for children.

A new Leger/Postmedia poll found Ontario residents are on board with having the vaccine passport system that applies now for restaurants and movie theatres apply to children. The poll found 64 per cent of respondents either strongly or somewhat supported such a measure with 26 per cent opposed.

Andrew Enns, vice-president with Leger, said the results were similar, but not quite as supportive, as vaccine mandates for adults, which generally had support in the high 70s or low 80s.

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Canada authorizes Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children

Bridgette Melo, 5, receives a reduced dose of the Pfizer BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine during a trial at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, September 28, 2021.
Bridgette Melo, 5, receives a reduced dose of the Pfizer BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine during a trial at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, September 28, 2021. Photo by Shawn Rocco/Duke University/Handout via Reuters

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Health Canada has approved the first COVID-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11 in Canada.

Pfizer and its partner BioNTech submitted a request for approval of a child-sized dose of its mRNA vaccine for COVID-19 on Oct. 18.

The companies say the results of their trials in children show comparable safety and efficacy results to those recorded in a previous Pfizer-BioNTech study in adults aged 16 to 25.

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Thursday

Calgary’s homeless shelters prepare to face second winter amid COVID-19 pandemic

The Calgary Drop-In Centre was photographed on Monday, March 23, 2020.
The Calgary Drop-In Centre was photographed on Monday, March 23, 2020. Photo by Gavin Young/Postmedia

Calgary’s homeless shelters are preparing for another cold winter of balancing increased demand for space and pandemic safety measures as temperatures drop.

It’s the second winter season that the city’s shelter system will face during the COVID-19 pandemic, but their ongoing experience with safety protocols and the availability of vaccines are key to keeping the city’s vulnerable and shelter staff safe. Hundreds of Calgary’s unhoused individuals have received doses of COVID-19 vaccine — a tool that shelters didn’t have a year ago.

“We’ve been through it before and we’re always very well prepared for the winter weather, so we’re currently ensuring all of our overflow spaces are ready to go on short notice,” said Sandra Clarkson, executive director of Calgary’s Drop-In Centre.

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Thursday

Alberta reports 383 new cases, five deaths

Screen Shot 2021 11 18 at 3.49.45 PM

Fewer Albertans with COVID-19 are occupying hospital and intensive care unit beds as admissions for both hit a 2 1/2-month low on Thursday.

Here are updated COVID-19 numbers , released by Alberta Health Services on Thursday afternoon:

  • Alberta reported a total of 383 new cases on Thursday. The province has averaged 370 daily cases over the past seven days.
  • Another five COVID-related deaths have been reported to Alberta Health Services. There have been 85 deaths in November and 3,209 since the start of the pandemic.
  • There are 498 people in hospital with COVID-19, a drop of 18 from Wednesday. There are 94 people in ICU, down six from Wednesday.
  • There are 5,384 active infections in Alberta, a drop of 137 from Wednesday. Although infections are declining, Alberta’s active rate is still the highest in the country, excluding northern territories.
  • The Calgary zone has 1,817 active cases, 10 fewer than Wednesday.
  • There are eight outbreaks of two or more cases in continuing care facilities in the Calgary zone. The Central zone, which includes the city of Red Deer, has 16 outbreaks.
  • There were 8,948 tests completed on Wednesday, for a positivity rate of 4.7 per cent (seven-day average).

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Thursday

Canada to announce approval of kids’ COVID-19 vaccine, easing of border measures Friday

Charles Muro, 13, is given a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre in Hartford, Connecticut. Canada is expected to approve vaccinations for children age five to 11 on Friday.
Charles Muro, 13, is given a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre in Hartford, Connecticut. Canada is expected to approve vaccinations for children age five to 11 on Friday. Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images

The federal government is set to announce Friday that Health Canada has approved the COVID-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11, then later detail plans to ease some of the pandemic-related measures at the border.

The federal government has scheduled a media briefing with officials at 10 a.m. Friday to share news regarding authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children.

Officials will also give an update on recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.

Provinces have said they are poised and ready to start vaccinating children as soon as doses are distributed.

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Thursday

Calgary airport rebounding from COVID-19 pandemic at ‘surprising’ rate

A passenger pushes baggage through the Calgary International Airport on July 19, 2021.
A passenger pushes baggage through the Calgary International Airport on July 19, 2021. Photo by Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

Passenger traffic at the Calgary International Airport has come roaring back after the COVID-19 pandemic saw nearly all flights halted in 2020.

Public health measures and advisories along with calls to avoid all non-essential travel during the height of the pandemic saw 68,075 passengers travel through YYC in April of 2020, a number that represented 95 per cent drop from 2019 when the airport saw more than 1.4 million passengers travel through its doors.

That trend continued throughout most of the year as traffic continued to be down between 77 and 94 per cent of 2019 numbers.

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Thursday

Fully vaxxed Ottawa Sens cancelled three games this week due to major COVID outbreak in its ranks

Ottawa Senators forward Nick Paul battles with Calgary Flames Elias Lindholm in the first period at the Canadian Tire Centre on Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021.
Ottawa Senators forward Nick Paul battles with Calgary Flames Elias Lindholm in the first period at the Canadian Tire Centre on Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021. Photo by Marc DesRosiers/USA TODAY Sports

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A COVID outbreak has sidelined the Ottawa Senators, despite having their players fully vaccinated. Ten players and one coach have reportedly tested positive for the virus, equating to approximately 40 per cent of the team.

It is one of the biggest disruptions to professional sports since vaccines became widely available, and the first time this fall that a North American pro sports league — basketball, football or hockey — has cancelled games due to COVID.

Issac Bogoch, a University of Toronto infectious diseases specialist, says he isn’t surprised by the breakthrough cases of the highly contagious virus and its variants in a sport where players are in such close contact.

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Thursday

Quebec minister defends transfer of seniors to care homes during COVID-19 first wave

Ambulance attendants transport a resident from Centre d’hebergement de Sainte-Dorothe, a seniors’ long-term care centre, amid the COVID-19 outbreak in Laval, Quebec, on April 16, 2020.
Ambulance attendants transport a resident from Centre d’hebergement de Sainte-Dorothe, a seniors’ long-term care centre, amid the COVID-19 outbreak in Laval, Quebec, on April 16, 2020. Photo by REUTERS/Christinne Muschi

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Contrary to popular belief, the Quebec government did not massively transfer elderly patients to long-term care homes to free up hospital beds at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the province’s former health minister told a coroner’s inquest Thursday.

Danielle McCann, who was shuffled out of the health portfolio in June 2020, testified that transfers from hospitals to care homes rose 20 per cent in March 2020 compared to the previous month, for a total of fewer than 1,000 transfers.

“It was not a massive transfer,” she told the inquest, which is probing the high death toll in the long-term care sector in spring 2020.

The Quebec government has faced criticism for its decision to transfer patients from hospitals to understaffed and under-equipped care homes, where about 4,000 residents died during the first wave of COVID-19.

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Thursday

Here’s what Canadians should know about Cuba’s borders reopening

CUBA USA TRAVEL

As Cuba reopens its borders for international travellers after a dire year of COVID-19 restrictions and political unrest, Canadian snowbirds brace themselves for a warm winter ahead. The same, however, cannot be said for American tourists hoping to visit the island nation.

Trump-era sanctions have remained in place throughout Biden’s presidency with no prospect for a policy reversal, restricting U.S. travel to the Caribbean island. The former president significantly reduced commercial flights to Havana and eliminated them altogether to other Cuban cities. He also halted cruise ship docking on Cuban territory, no longer permited U.S. citizens from staying at any lodging that might rake in money for the Cuban government, and made financial transactions a generally arduous process.

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Cuba saw a drop of nearly 80 per cent in international travellers this last year through September, with a mere 280,913 international tourists arriving to the island, compared to the yearly average of four million.

Read more.


Thursday

Canada, Mexico to donate millions of vaccine doses from U.S. in promise to ‘pay those forward’

Boxes of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine to be administered to children from 5-11 years old are seen at the Beaumont Health offices in Southfield, Michigan on November 5, 2021.
Boxes of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine to be administered to children from 5-11 years old are seen at the Beaumont Health offices in Southfield, Michigan on November 5, 2021. Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP

Canada and Mexico will redistribute millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses they received from the United States to other Western Hemisphere countries as a part of today’s revived Three Amigos leaders’ summit.

Senior U.S. government officials outlined the measure in advance of today’s meeting that President Joe Biden is hosting at the White House with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

The officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity as authorized briefers, offered advance details of the American priorities ahead of the first North American leaders’ summit since Canada hosted the last one five years ago.

Read more.

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