As a number of COVID-19 vaccine trials are underway around the world, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health is warning that a successful vaccine won’t mean the end of other public health measures like physical distancing and masks.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw gave the warning Thursday afternoon as she updated the COVID-19 situation in Alberta.
“It can make us think that if we persist, changing our personal behavior for just a few more months, then a vaccine will arrive and we won’t need to worry about modifying how we act.”
Hinshaw warned that we cannot know when a “highly effective” vaccine would be widely available and how many doses over a period of time it would take to develop sufficient antibodies against the novel coronavirus.
“The hard truth is that we will likely still be fighting COVID-19 in 2021 so we do need to build good daily habits now.”
The warning came as Alberta celebrated a week-long trend of daily cases of COVID-19 coming in under 100 after a surge in cases across the province.
On Thursday, Hinshaw confirmed an additional 56 cases of COVID-19 in Alberta.
“I am cautiously optimistic that Albertans are taking health measures more seriously including distancing, handwashing and masking,” she said.
There were also 76 people in hospital, with 19 of those people in the ICU.
Hinshaw also reported two more deaths.
“There have now been 205 deaths in this province and every one of them was someone who mattered, who loved and was loved in return,” she said.
According to Alberta Health, a woman in her 80s from the Central zone and a woman in her 60s have died. The woman in her 60s was linked to the outbreak at the Good Samaritan Southgate care centre in Edmonton. There have now been 25 deaths linked to that facility.
Health measures still crucial
It has been six months since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Alberta and while Hinshaw said she was cautiously optimistic about the numbers, Albertans need to continue to follow public health measures.
Things like good hygiene, physical distancing and mask wearing continue to be important, Hinshaw said.
“When these measures are followed, our cases go down. When they’re not, our cases go up. We must all embrace the changes that are part of living with COVID-19.
“That means continuing each day to make wise decisions that make life safer regardless of whether cases are rising or falling at any given time.”
Heading into the weekend, Hinshaw issued a challenge to Albertans. Those who don’t already have a face mask should get one. Parents who haven’t spoken to their kids yet about proper mask wearing should do so. And anyone who is going to be going out to eat, shop or be in close contact with one another needs to follow public health guidelines.
“The spread of the virus in the coming weeks will depend on the choices we make this weekend and in the days and weeks ahead,” she said.
“Some things have changed since March, but one thing will always remain true, we will always be stronger together.”View link »