Alberta’s chief medical officer of health sorry for causing ‘confusion, fear or anger’ on COVID-19

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health is apologizing for causing “confusion, fear or anger” after communicating the province’s plan to lift its remaining COVID-19 public health measures.

In a column sent to various media outlets Wednesday, Dr. Deena Hinshaw says her words have caused some people to think she believes COVID-19 is over.

Hinshaw says that wasn’t her intended message.

She said in the column that lifting precautions, including isolation requirements, asymptomatic testing and contact tracing will support the whole health of Albertans by allowing the province to focus on other health threats, such as opioid deaths and syphilis.

Alberta facing other ‘wicked’ problems: Hinshaw

Isolation measures were incredibly disruptive, she said, and are no longer necessary thanks to vaccine protection.

Hinshaw also noted the threat to children’s health, especially those under 12 who are not eligible to get vaccinated, is low and should be considered among a range of other risks.

“COVID-19 is a wicked problem; experts don’t always agree on the exact nature of the problem, much less the best approach. But it is not the only wicked problem we are facing together,” she wrote.

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“In addressing these complex issues, we are best served by trying to understand each other’s perspectives, engaging in respectful dialogue and continuing to assess our approach.”

Close contacts of people who test positive for COVID-19 are no longer being notified by contact tracers, nor are they required to isolate. Starting Aug. 16, infected individuals will no longer be legally required to isolate either.

Premier Jason Kenney and Health Minister Tyler Shandro have said lifting the restrictions was Hinshaw’s idea and they agreed with her plan. But the move has come under fire from medical experts across the country.

Physicians ask Alberta to provide evidence for changes

In an open letter earlier Wednesday, a group of 10 physicians from the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association said Alberta is going against the advice from Health Canada, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

The letter also draws attention to threats posed by the COVID-19 delta variant and the potential for pediatric and adult intensive care units to become overwhelmed should Alberta continue with its approach.

The group asks the province to review existing data and provide sound evidence before weakening COVID-19 control measures.

“We are concerned with the rapid speed of these changes and that you have provided no scientific data to Albertans to justify these unprecedented actions,” read the letter.

“There are repetitive waves of COVID-19 variants moving around the world and we have not yet reached a safe state with a constant low level of virus in our community.”

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