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ICU doctor warns Albertans to be cautious amid COVID-19 relaunch: ‘I see the consequences’

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Edmonton ICU physician issues warning as Alberta continues to ease restrictions' Coronavirus: Edmonton ICU physician issues warning as Alberta continues to ease restrictions
WATCH ABOVE: An Edmonton ICU physician has taken to social media to remind Albertans that the novel coronavirus is still with us. Dr. Darren Markland said after a month-long hiatus, a new patient has been admitted to the Royal Alexandra Hospital's intensive care unit with COVID-19. Nicole Stillger has the details – Jun 15, 2020

An Edmonton physician is warning the public that the novel coronavirus is still with us as restrictions continue to ease in Alberta.

Dr. Darren Markland, who works in intensive care at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, took to social media on Sunday to say that the hospital has admitted a new patient to the ICU with COVID-19. It comes after weeks without a new patient, he said.

“After a lovely hiatus I am saddened to report that #COVID19 has returned to our ICU,” Markland tweeted.

“Our patient is young and was healthy. They are now very sick and on a ventilator. We will take excellent care of them, but what happens next is up to you.”

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Markland said the social media post was not meant to alarm Albertans, but serve as reminder to everyone that the novel coronavirus is still with us.

“I don’t send these things out to instill fear or make them unnecessarily afraid but I want them to be just as aware about what’s going on as I am,” Markland said via Skype from the hospital on Sunday.

“I’m no different than anybody out there. I want summer to be good and I’m starting to relax a little bit but what stops me from relaxing is that I work here. I see the consequences very quickly.”

LISTEN BELOW: Dr. Darren Markland joins 630 CHED Mornings with Chelsea Bird and Shaye Ganam

 

On Sunday, Alberta reported 50 new cases of COVID-19 and the number of active cases of the disease is on the rise.

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READ MORE: 50 additional cases of COVID-19 in Alberta Sunday, active numbers rising

Recoveries are also rising but they’re not outweighing the number of new cases. Between last Monday and Sunday, there were 163 additional recoveries in Alberta; however, there were 231 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed during that time.

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As of Sunday afternoon, there were 46 people in hospital with COVID-19, seven of whom were in ICUs.

Markland said the Royal Alex still has a patient in the ICU who has been there since the first phase who got “incredibly sick and has not been able to come out.”

“We haven’t had a new admission in almost a month now,” Markland said.

Click to play video 'Autumn will see spike in respiratory viruses with influenza and COVID-19: Alberta doctors' Autumn will see spike in respiratory viruses with influenza and COVID-19: Alberta doctors
Autumn will see spike in respiratory viruses with influenza and COVID-19: Alberta doctors – Jun 12, 2020

It is to be expected that the number of cases would rise again, Markland said, but he encourages people to continue to listen to the guidance of Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw.

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“You have to take risks every day and there’s a risk that this could get out of control but I think the plan has been very well instituted, the communication has been excellent and we’re prepared for more of this — but that requires participation from the public too and constant hygiene — both mentally and physically. I want you to wash your hands but I want you to think about others every day.”

Click to play video 'Alberta sees more younger people test positive for COVID-19' Alberta sees more younger people test positive for COVID-19
Alberta sees more younger people test positive for COVID-19 – Jun 12, 2020

Markland said Albertans have done very well in flattening and curve and as more restrictions ease and businesses start to reopen, he wants to ensure people keep the virus top of mind.

“Keep your guard up,” he said. “This is something that we have to be continually vigilant about.

“It’s human nature to say we’ve succeeded and conquered this but we haven’t. These were the mid-terms and our final exam is going to happen when we have a vaccine.”

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Hinshaw reiterated that message during an update Monday afternoon on the number of cases of COVID-19 in Alberta.

“There is a possible perception that with our first wave coming down and being low, that it may feel like this is over, that our response is over, that we can go back to life as normal,” she said, adding Alberta confirmed another 20 cases of COVID-19 and one death due to the disease on Monday.

“This virus is going to be with us for many months to come. We need to continue being cautious in protecting each other.”

Click to play video 'Edmonton COVID-19 trend shows jump in young people testing positive and active cases' Edmonton COVID-19 trend shows jump in young people testing positive and active cases
Edmonton COVID-19 trend shows jump in young people testing positive and active cases – Jun 15, 2020

Hinshaw said it is very likely Alberta will see a second wave of infection, but added that the timing and the peak of the wave are entirely dependent on Albertans and their actions to slow the spread.

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“This is in all of our hands with respect to the spread of the virus,” she said.

“We’ve seen that in some places in the United States — in some states where they’ve moved into their relaunch and reopening — they have seen some significant increases in cases, even in the summer. So we cannot trust the summer or a seasonal attenuation to prevent the spread of the virus by itself. We have to make sure that we’re being cautious.”

“We’ve come a long way but the fight against COVID[-19] is not yet over,” added Health Minister Tyler Shandro. “COVID[-19] is still with us and we must all still remain vigilant.”

Health experts have also expressed concerns that there may be an increase of COVID-19 cases in the fall, when we typically see a spike in influenza and other respiratory viruses.

“What’s really going to be concerning is fall. So as I keep saying, have a good summer but keep your skills up because in the fall we’re really going to need people to buckle down.”

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READ MORE: Alberta doctors say fall will see spike in respiratory viruses with influenza and COVID-19

Markland encourages Albertans to wear masks when out in public where physical distancing is not possible. Hinshaw has also recommended people wear non-medical face masks in situations where two metres of distance cannot be maintained.

“They are part of the things that help prevent the spread of it and I recommend doing it. It’s come along with a lot of stigma and it was a point that people love to argue about, including myself. But I don’t argue about it anymore.”

The province is offering free non-medical masks to Albertans at all McDonald’s Canada, Tim Hortons and A&W drive-thrus in the province.