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Albertans with underlying health conditions brace for relaxing of COVID-19 restrictions

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WATCH: As the COVID-19 lockdown eases, people at increased risk of complications from COVID-19 are worried about the risk of infection. Carolyn Kury de Castillo has more on what experts are saying about the effects on people with underlying health conditions – May 20, 2020

As the province moves to loosen lockdown restrictions it’s creating worry among families who have underlying health conditions.

When the COVID-19 pandemic first broke out in Alberta Laurel Sherret’s family went into complete isolation.
That’s because the Calgary mom’s 10-year-old son Roshan has cerebral palsy which puts him at a higher risk of serious infection should he get COVID-19.
“There was a lot of fear, and then as time has gone on we have had to start making decisions that recognize that this might be something that is going to be with us for quite a while,” Sherret said.
Watching the restrictions ease off in Alberta has been hard on Sherret.
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“It actually causes us to kind of go back to the beginning, which is to stay even closer to home and to really make those decisions around what we need to do to make sure we have the supports in place,” she said.

“We anticipate Roshan is going to be doing everything from home at least for the next few months while we see what happens with infection rates, and just to see if people continue to act with care knowing that it’s not just them but others who can’t actually make those decisions for themselves.”

READ MORE: As COVID-19 lockdown eases, immunocompromised people not likely to experience new freedoms

Some supports for cerebral palsy families include specialized equipment that many don’t have access to now that they aren’t in school, so bikes are now being delivered or made ready for curbside pick-up at the Cerebral Palsy Kids and Families location in Calgary.

“We are saying: be cautious, be careful. A lot of people are still staying home and we respect their decision,” said Sheralee Stelter, executive director of Cerebral Palsy Kids and Families.

There has been a big demand for adapted bikes. The group has fit and delivered 83 bikes in May.

University of Calgary infectious disease expert Dr. Chris Mody says for people with underlying health conditions it’s a personal decision to self isolate but he says it’s also good for people to get outside as long as they take precautions. He says if they do acquire the infection it puts them at an increased risk of severe manifestations.

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“One size doesn’t fit all but I think in general patients need to be very cautious about things. So patients that are immunocompromised need to be very careful about how they are in contact with others as things start to open up,” said Dr. Chris Mody, head of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the Cumming School of Medicine.

READ MORE: More people at Calgary homeless shelters test positive for COVID-19

Mody said the easing of restrictions means people need to be even more diligent about sanitizing hands and wheelchairs for people with cerebral palsy.

Sherret just hopes people continue to follow the rules for the benefit of the most vulnerable.

“So if we start to see infection rates rising, we are okay to put the brakes on. Because there’s no reason to have gone through months with huge sacrifices from people if we’re going to throw it all away so we can have picnics in the park.”

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