‘Reduce community transmission’: Alberta’s former top doctor calls for more action on COVID-19

EDMONTON –

Alberta’s former chief medical officer of health and a critical care physician penned a letter Sunday urging action from the province to slow community spread of COVID-19.

As hospitalizations continue to climb and the Canadian Armed Forces prepares to assist with patient transfers out of the province, Dr. James Talbot and Dr. Noel Gibney say the province needs to take action this week “to prevent more disease, deaths, and suffering.”

“Albertan’s hospital system, especially ICUs, are under more killing stress than at any time in the province’s history,” the pair of doctors said in a letter to the province’s new health minister.

“We are within days of being forced to implement a triage protocol which will force health care workers to make life and death decision on who will get scarce resources, like ventilators,” they wrote.

The doctors recommend mandating vaccine passports for entry into non-essential businesses and making vaccines mandatory for all provincial employees and agencies, like Alberta Blue Cross and the Workers Compensation Board.

In their letter, the doctors also said that while those measures increase vaccine uptake, “urgent actions” are necessary to “rapidly deal with the urgent crisis in Alberta” of rampant community spread of COVID-19.

To slow case growth, the doctors recommended the provincial government:

  • transfer ICU patients to ICUs in other provinces immediately;
  • restore contact tracing of patients who test positive for COVID-19;
  • mandate masking inside schools, including when students are seated at their desks
  • implement a series of “fire break” closures and restrictions for a minimum four weeks that shutter all night clubs, casinos, bars, indoor dining, and indoor exercise facilities; and
  • create capacity limits for places or worship, stores, and malls.

The letter was addressed to Health Minister Jason Copping who took over the portfolio this week from Tyler Shandro.

“Even if you were to implement the measures that we recommend today, it will take at least four weeks for them to have an effect on ICU beds,” the letter said. “Time is of the essence. Albertans deserve better.”

CTV News Edmonton reached out to Copping for comment.

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