Politics

Edmonton Alberta COVID-19 Update May 27 2022 Hinshaw Kenney pandemic


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

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With COVID-19 news changing every day, we have created this file to keep you up-to-date on all the latest stories and information in and around Edmonton.

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Are you experiencing COVID-19 symptoms?

Before calling Health Link use the COVID-19 Assessment & Testing Tool to check symptoms.

Health Link continues to experience high daily call volumes and Alberta Health Services (AHS) is encouraging all Albertans to assess their symptoms or the symptoms of someone they are caring for using the online assessment and testing tool before calling Health Link.

AHS has updated the COVID-19 Assessment and Testing Tool to make it easier for Albertans to assess their symptoms, determine if they should talk to someone about their symptoms, such as their doctor or Health Link staff, access self-care tips to help manage mild COVID-19 symptoms at home and to determine whether or not they are eligible for PCR testing.

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The tool has up-to-date guidance for adults, children and youth and is available at ahs.ca/covidscreen.


What’s happening now

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COVID-19 in Alberta

Here are COVID-19 numbers released by Alberta Health, covering a seven-day period from May 17 to May 23:

  • The province is reporting 2,590 new COVID-19 cases over seven days, through 16,053 tests completed.
  • There are 1,040 people in hospital with COVID-19, a decrease of 125 since May 17. There are 31 people in ICU, a decrease of 11 since May 17.
  • There were another 55 COVID-related deaths reported to Alberta Health Services, bringing the total to 4,507 since the start of the pandemic. 
  • Alberta’s two-dose vaccination rate for the population age 12 and over is 87 per cent.



Friday

Bail denied for Coutts border protester charged with conspiring to murder Mounties

Kevin Martin, Calgary Herald

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Alberta has passed legislation for dealing with border blockades but the government has declined to use it. It might as well be repealed, says columnist Rob Breakenridge.
Alberta has passed legislation for dealing with border blockades but the government has declined to use it. It might as well be repealed, says columnist Rob Breakenridge. Photo by Darren Makowichuk /Postmedia file

Coutts border protester Chris Carbert will remain behind bars pending trial on charges that include conspiring to murder members of the RCMP.

Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Johnna Kubik on Friday ruled Carbert and his lawyer, Balfour Der, failed to meet the onus to establish he was a suitable candidate for release.

Before submissions and evidence by Der and Crown prosecutor Matt Dalidowicz last week, Kubik imposed a publication ban on Carbert’s bail hearing at Der’s request.

The ban covers both the submissions and evidence as well as Kubik’s reasons for denying judicial interim release.

Carbert, 45, of Lethbridge, was charged in February along with three other men with conspiracy to commit murder, as well as mischief by impeding the lawful use of property by others and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose.

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The arrests followed an RCMP raid on three trailers in the Village of Coutts near the border crossing between Montana and Alberta.

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Friday

‘You ain’t getting a dime,’: vows Freedom Convoy organizer named in class action lawsuit

Mary Katherine Keown, Sudbury Star

Jason LaFaci, who is running for the Ontario Party in the provincial election, is one of 20 defendants in a $300 million class action suit filed against Freedom Convoy participants.
Jason LaFaci, who is running for the Ontario Party in the provincial election, is one of 20 defendants in a $300 million class action suit filed against Freedom Convoy participants. Photo by Jason LeFace / HANDOUT

A Sudbury organizer of the Freedom Convoy, which took place earlier this year and shut down parts of downtown Ottawa, has been named in a $300-million class action lawsuit.

Jason LeFaci, who is running for the Ontario Party in the Sudbury riding under the name Jason LaFace, said this week he has little respect for the lawsuit and has no plans to compensate the plaintiffs.

“To me, that lawsuit is a joke,” he told The Sudbury Star. “The people who put that together really need to give their heads a shake.”

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LeFaci said “all the stuff they’re claiming is a lie.”

None of the allegations in the suit have been proven in a court of law.

He said the protests with which he was involved were peaceful. He said once his crew arrived in Ottawa, the “city was locked down already and the businesses were shut down.”

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Friday

Beijing lab staff detained by police for failure to detect COVID-19

Bloomberg News

Scientists at Sinovac Biotech in Beijing work on an experimental vaccine for COVID-19.
Scientists at Sinovac Biotech in Beijing work on an experimental vaccine for COVID-19. Photo by Nicolas Asfouri/AFP via Getty

Beijing police detained 17 employees of a Covid-19 lab for failing to test samples properly, blaming the infractions for worsening the outbreak that’s enveloped China’s capital for a month.

Workers at the lab diluted samples to the point that infections may not be able to be detected, officials said at a briefing on Friday. It led to cases not being found and spawned the risk of further spread, said Li Ang, an official with the Beijing Municipal Health Commission. The city will tighten supervision over labs, including daily inspections.

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Mass testing has been a hallmark of China’s Covid Zero approach and officials have mobilized a legion of private diagnostic companies to help with the process. But inaccurate results produced by some firms have led to uninfected people with false positive results being sent to makeshift hospitals in Shanghai and infections not being detected in a timely manner in Beijing.

The capital has seen a consistent drumbeat of infections since the current outbreak started to gather pace toward the end of April.

China also warned that Covid-19 infections risk spreading through the mainland after at least 16 cases were found in cities bordering North Korea, which is struggling to contain one of its worst health crises in years.

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Authorities found seven infections in northeastern Jilin province, as well as nine cases in neighboring Liaoning, on Thursday. National Health Commission officials on Friday said the source of the infections in Jilin, which has a long and often porous border with North Korea, is unclear and there’s a risk that the virus could spread further. Measures to prevent imported cases will be strengthened they said, without giving details.

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Friday

Chinese province neighbouring North Korea reports border area COVID cases

Reuters

A health worker wears protective gear as she gives a nucleic acid test to detect COVID-19 on a local resident at a mass testing site after new cases were found, on April 6, 2022, in Beijing, China.
A health worker wears protective gear as she gives a nucleic acid test to detect COVID-19 on a local resident at a mass testing site after new cases were found, on April 6, 2022, in Beijing, China. Photo by Kevin Frayer /Getty Images

BEIJING — Border areas in China’s northeastern province of Jilin, which shares a long frontier with coronavirus-hit North Korea, reported domestically transmitted COVID-19 infections of unknown origin, a Chinese health official said on Friday.

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The outbreak had shown a trend of spreading from border areas to inland areas, Lei Zhenglong, of China’s National Health Commission, told a news briefing.

Jilin province also shares a short border with Russia and Lei did not specify which border he was referring to or say how many cases had been found.

This month, isolated North Korea announced its first COVID outbreak since the pandemic emerged in China more than two years ago, declaring the “gravest national emergency” and imposing a national lockdown.

Jilin’s daily tally of new cases for the past five days has been in the single digits. Many of the cases reported in recent days were in places near North Korea.

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Friday

Swiss destroy more than 620,000 expired Moderna COVID doses

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Reuters

Vials of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Toronto.
Vials of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Toronto. Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images files

ZURICH — Switzerland will destroy more than 620,000 expired doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, health officials said on Friday, as demand for the shots drops dramatically.

“It was consciously accepted that under certain circumstances too much vaccine was procured for Switzerland’s needs,” a spokesperson for the Federal Office of Public Heath said, confirming a report by broadcaster RTS.

“The aim is to protect the population in Switzerland at all times with sufficient quantities of the most effective vaccines available.”

Switzerland, which has ended public health measures designed to curb the spread of the disease, secured a total 34 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for 2022 for a population of around 8.7 million.

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It said in February it would donate up to 15 million surplus doses to poorer countries by mid-year. How many doses can actually be donated is still under discussion.

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Thursday

Canadian job vacancies jump to record high ahead of patio season

Kevin Carmichael

Vacancies in the accommodation and food service industry surged 37 per cent to 158,1000 open positions at the beginning of March.
Vacancies in the accommodation and food service industry surged 37 per cent to 158,1000 open positions at the beginning of March. Photo by REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

Canadian employers were seeking to fill a record 1.03 million positions in March, led by a surge in openings at restaurants and hotels, Statistics Canada reported on May 26. Here’s what you need to know.

What happened?

Job vacancies had been on a downward track. Then, as COVID restrictions eased, restaurants and hotels started making plans for the summer — and found it was difficult to lure staff back. Vacancies in the accommodation and food service industry surged 37 per cent to 158,1000 open positions at the beginning of March. The vacancy rate, which measures the percentage total positions that are unfilled, in the hotel and restaurant sector was 12.8 per cent, the highest among the 20 industry groups that Statistics Canada monitors.

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The overall vacancy rate was 5.9 per cent, matching the previous peak in September. There were about 988,000 vacancies that month, which was the previous record. Vacancies had dropped to about 826,000 in February, suggesting that labour markets were loosening. Maybe not.

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Thursday

Delta to trim some summer flights to improve operations

Reuters

Delta Air Lines passenger planes are seen parked due to flight reductions made to slow the spread of coronavirus at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport in Birmingham, Alabama, March 25, 2020.
Delta Air Lines passenger planes are seen parked due to flight reductions made to slow the spread of coronavirus at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport in Birmingham, Alabama, March 25, 2020. Photo by Elijah Nouvelage /REUTERS

WASHINGTON — Delta Air Lines on Thursday said it will cut flights through August to improve operational reliability amid soaring travel demand as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic recedes.

The U.S. airline said in a statement that from July 1 through Aug 7 it will cut about 100 daily departures, primarily in U.S. and Latin America markets.

Ahead of what could be a record holiday travel weekend, Delta said in an email to employees seen by Reuters it will also work to “relieve pressure by proactively thinning the schedule over Memorial Day and through the balance of June.”

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Other airlines are also cutting flights ahead of what could be a record U.S. travel season. In recent months, weather or air traffic delays have often resulted in hundreds of airline industry cancellations.

JetBlue Airways in April said it was reducing its planned summer schedule by more than 10%.

Delta forecasts it will carry approximately 2.5 million passengers this Memorial Day weekend – a 25% increase over 2021 levels.

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Thursday

Banff National Park residents invited to share their thoughts for tourism master plan

Dylan Short

Lake Minnewanka in Banff National Park.
Lake Minnewanka in Banff National Park. Photo by Postmedia Archives

Banff National Park residents are being asked to provide their thoughts on the future of tourism in the area as a master plan for the next decade is developed.

A community survey is scheduled to go to residents this week to guide how to direct tourism efforts as Banff, Lake Louise and surrounding areas look to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey will be open from May 26 to June 10, and those who fill it out before June 3 will be entered into a prize draw for $500 to spend in the national park.

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“The tourism master plan will become the guidepost for sustainable tourism in our destination,” Banff and Lake Louise Tourism president and CEO Leslie Bruce said in a news release. “Through the community survey, we’ll gain the insights we need to ensure the plan considers all aspects of our community well-being, environment and economic prosperity.”

Banff and Lake Louise Tourism is working alongside Parks Canada and the Town of Banff to create a 10-year plan for tourism in the region. Several working groups are collaborating with various groups in the area on consultations.

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Thursday

Hospitalizations continue to fall as Quebec reports 12 deaths

Montreal Gazette

The continuing clutter of construction sites and cones and traffic redirection along Rene-Levesque Blvd. in Montreal on Thursday May 19, 2022.
The continuing clutter of construction sites and cones and traffic redirection along Rene-Levesque Blvd. in Montreal on Thursday May 19, 2022. Photo by Dave Sidaway /Montreal Gazette

The number of patients in Quebec hospitals with COVID-19 fell by seven in the last day, the province announced Thursday, for a total of 1,315.

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Of those patients, 43 are in intensive care — a decrease of two and the lowest tally since late March.

The province also announced that 12 more fatalities had been attributed to the virus, bringing its cumulative death toll to 15,390.

The seven-day rolling average of deaths is at nine.

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Letter of the day

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends a news conference to announce that the Emergencies Act is being revoked after Canadian police evicted the last of the trucks and supporters occupying the downtown core in a protest against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, February 23, 2022. REUTERS/Patrick Doyle
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends a news conference to announce that the Emergencies Act is being revoked after Canadian police evicted the last of the trucks and supporters occupying the downtown core in a protest against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, February 23, 2022. REUTERS/Patrick Doyle Photo by REUTERS/Patrick Doyle

The Conservatives keep Trudeau in power

Re. “The Boomers keep Trudeau in power,” Opinion, May 25

In an opinion article in Wednesday’s Edmonton Journal, Geoff Russ blames baby boomers for the longevity, and frequency, of Liberal governments federally. Mr. Russ could not be more wrong.

If many baby boomers are supporting the Liberal Party, it is not simple-minded nostalgia about the good old days of Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau. It is because the Conservative Party scares many Canadians election after election — from the snitch lines to report bad behaviour in minority communities in 2015 to their constant foot-dragging on combatting global warming in 2019 to their active support of the anarchistic impulses of the Freedom Convoy in 2021.

Until the Conservative Party demonstrates that they too embrace the fundamental values and goals of middle-of-the-road Canadians, they will remain on the opposition benches. Nostalgia among baby boomers has nothing to do with it.

Karlis Poruks, Edmonton


Letters Welcome

We invite you to write letters to the editor. A maximum of 150 words is preferred. Letters must carry a first and last name, or two initials and a last name, and include an address and daytime telephone number. All letters are subject to editing. We don’t publish letters addressed to others or sent to other publications. Email: letters@edmontonjournal.com


Wednesday

Copping says sixth wave of COVID-19 receding as Alberta reports 55 more deaths

Lisa Johnson

Alberta’s Health Minister Jason Copping and Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw provide an update on COVID-19 in the province during a news conference in Edmonton on March 23, 2022.
Alberta’s Health Minister Jason Copping and Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw provide an update on COVID-19 in the province during a news conference in Edmonton on March 23, 2022. Photo by David Bloom /Postmedia

Alberta Health Minister Jason Copping says the current sixth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is receding as the number of patients in hospital continues to decline.

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Between May 17 and May 23, the province reported 2,737 new confirmed cases, with a seven-day average PCR test positivity rate of 17.5 per cent, down from 20 per cent. There are 1,040 people in hospital, a decrease of 125, and 31 in the ICU, a decrease of 11 since the previous week.

“The peak of BA.2 cases has passed,” said Copping, adding that data shows COVID-19 in wastewater is also trending downwards, a key metric since the province scaled back PCR testing.

Over seven days, there were 55 deaths due to COVID-19 — an average of about eight per day — bringing the province’s death toll to 4,507.

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Wednesday

Judge decides ‘Freedom Convoy’ organizer Tamara Lich stays out on bail

The Canadian Press

“Freedom convoy” organizer Tamara Lich delivers a statement during a news conference in Ottawa, on Feb. 3, 2022. An Ottawa judge is expected to make a decision today on Lich’s bail. Lich and fellow protest organizer Chris Barber are jointly accused of mischief, obstructing police, counselling others to commit mischief and intimidation.
“Freedom convoy” organizer Tamara Lich delivers a statement during a news conference in Ottawa, on Feb. 3, 2022. An Ottawa judge is expected to make a decision today on Lich’s bail. Lich and fellow protest organizer Chris Barber are jointly accused of mischief, obstructing police, counselling others to commit mischief and intimidation. Photo by Adrian Wyld /The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — An Ottawa judge has decided that “Freedom Convoy” organizer Tamara Lich will remain released on bail while awaiting trial.

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Ontario Superior Court Justice Kevin Phillips said his decision was based on how well Lich’s surety has supervised her, that she has followed her bail conditions, along with “having had a taste of jail,” which lowered risk of reoffence.

The judge said he does not accept that Lich breached her release conditions by agreeing to receive an award, and added Lich can be trusted to respect the conditions of her release.

She was released with a long list of conditions, including a ban from all social media and an order not to “support anything related to the Freedom Convoy.”

The terms of Lich’s release were intended to prevent a similar protest from happening in the national capital, the judge said, adding the court does not seek to control people’s political views.

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“The courts are not a thought police. We seek only to control conduct to the extent that certain behaviour will violate or likely lead to violation of the law,” he said.

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Wednesday

More than three million with ‘fever’ in North Korea, and a death toll of 68

Reuters

Army medics involved in medicine supply distribution work at a pharmacy amid concerns of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spread in Pyongyang, North Korea May 22, 2022, in this photo released May 23, 2022, by the country’s Korean Central News Agency.
Army medics involved in medicine supply distribution work at a pharmacy amid concerns of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spread in Pyongyang, North Korea May 22, 2022, in this photo released May 23, 2022, by the country’s Korean Central News Agency.

SEOUL — North Korea reported no new deaths among fever patients for a second consecutive day, state media KCNA said on Wednesday, a day after it said the country’s first confirmed coronavirus outbreak was being stably managed.

The COVID outbreak, which the isolated country confirmed about two weeks ago, has stoked concerns about a lack of vaccines and medical supplies, while experts said a nationwide lockdown could deepen a food crisis in the country of 25 million.

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Pyongyang said on Tuesday its anti-virus campaign was having “successes” in curbing and controlling the outbreak and “maintaining the clearly stable situation.”

Nearly 116,000 more people showed fever symptoms as of Tuesday evening, some 18,000 fewer than a day before and the fourth straight day that the daily tally held below 200,000, KCNA said, citing data from the state emergency epidemic prevention headquarters. No new deaths were reported, it said.

The latest numbers took the total number of fever patients since April to 3,064,880, with a death toll of 68.

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Wednesday

‘We’re finally having our turn’: Boom times are back in Alberta

Bloomberg News

Calgary is seeing an influx of workers and new residents.
Calgary is seeing an influx of workers and new residents. Photo by Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

Rob Hryszko’s phone is ringing off the hook. The calls pour in from executives in Calgary’s oil industry who want to know if he can build them a multimillion-dollar luxury home.

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Hryszko says yes, sort of, and then asks them to get in line.

There are now 28 on the wait list. For Veranda Homes Ltd., a small Canadian family-owned business that usually builds 12 to 15 residences a year, this is a lot. Those at the end of the line won’t get their homes built until 2024.

For Hryszko, it all brings back memories of the go-go days of the mid-aughts, when oil was soaring toward a peak of about US$140 a barrel and Calgary, in his words, “was on fire.” The boom in Canada’s energy capital today is not quite the same as that one — it’s less drill-baby-drill, more cautious salting away of windfall profits — but Hryszko can barely notice the difference. “This feels a lot like 2006, 2007,” he says. So high is his optimism that he’s making plans to almost double his homebuilding capacity.

At a time when post-COVID economic expansions are cooling across much of the globe, Canada’s is rolling right along. No economy in the Group of Seven industrialized nations, and few in all of the developed world, is growing faster.

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