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7 week lockdown required to eliminate new COVID-19 cases: Alberta biologist

Dr. Gosia Gasperowicz, U of C. Developmental Biologist, shows how a seven week lockdown will drop new COVID-19 cases to zero in Alberta. Dr. Gosia Gasperowicz

Alberta could get to the point of no new COVID-19 cases in seven weeks, according to University of Calgary developmental biologist Malgorzata (Gosia) Gasperowicz.

Gasperowicz said to achieve that feat all non-essential businesses would need to close and all international and inter-provincial travellers would have to quarantine.

“If we could half our cases, reduce them by 50 per cent, every five or six days then in seven weeks we can get our case number of old variants to zero,” Gasperowicz said.

Dr. Gosia Gasperowicz, U of C. Developmental Biologist, shows how a seven week lockdown will drop new COVID-19 cases to zero in Alberta. Dr. Gosia Gasperowicz

According to Gasperowicz, if Alberta stays with current restrictions, the province will be up to 1,000 new cases a day by March 9 — that does not take into account the easing of restrictions as is planned starting Feb. 8.

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Read more: Alberta to lift some COVID-19 restrictions and reopen gyms, in-person dining Feb. 8

Dr. Gosia Gasperowicz / University of Calgary. Dr. Gosia Gasperowicz / University of Calgary

“It’s sort of like a crouching tiger,” Gasperowicz said, referring to the new COVID-19 variants.

“That’s how fast the virus is. The increased transmissibility adds to the exponent. It replicates each four days, so it would double every eight days basically.”

She has also forecasted a scenario where Alberta hits the 1,000 new cases per day mark by mid to late March. It’s based on a lower R value, which explains how many people a positive case will infect.

Read more: New research suggests Alberta COVID-19 R value currently too high to lift restrictions

Dr. Gosia Gasperowicz / University of Calgary
Dr. Gosia Gasperowicz / University of Calgary. Dr. Gosia Gasperowicz / University of Calgary

According to the Government of Alberta’s website, R values from Jan. 18 to Jan. 24 were as follows:

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  • Alberta province-wide: 0.81 
  • Edmonton zone: 0.81 
  • Calgary zone: 0.83 
  • Rest of Alberta: 0.77 

Pediatrician Dr. Tehseen Ladha agrees with Gasperowicz’s predictions — the third wave in Alberta will be the deadliest because of the highly contagious UK variant.

“This variant requires really strong lockdowns and my fear is that we’re going to be reactive rather than proactive,” Ladha said.

However, another health professional is relieved to open his gym doors for one-on-one personal training — even though the easing of restrictions poses some challenges.

“Fortunately for us, we offered personal training prior to the pandemic. For a lot of boutique gyms, personal training isn’t a normal service, probably only 10 to 20 per cent,” Revive Lifestyle Fitness owner Mike Du said.

Du added while one-on-one personal training will be allowed starting Feb. 8, the cost means not every Albertan can access it.

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