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COVID-19: Alberta doctor pleased with province’s slow move into Step 2

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Alberta allows libraries to open, low-intensity fitness activities to resume as part of Step 2 of reopening' COVID-19: Alberta allows libraries to open, low-intensity fitness activities to resume as part of Step 2 of reopening
Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro announces the province will allow libraries to open and indoor, low-intensity fitness activities to resume during Step 2 of Alberta’s pandemic reopening plan, but is holding off on resuming some activities related to retail, hotels, children’s sports and banquet halls. – Mar 1, 2021

One Edmonton doctor feels cautiously moving into Step 2 of Alberta’s four-part COVID-19 reopening plan was a safe move, but says the province needs to take a closer look at activities in places like restaurants and pubs.

Dr. Noel Gibney is the co-chair of the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association’s Strategic COVID-19 Pandemic Committee. He appeared on 630 CHED Mornings with Chelsea Bird and Shaye Ganam on Tuesday to discuss the government’s decision to ease some restrictions the day before.

“I think this was a very reasonable, as you say, incremental change. I think it’s safe.”

Read more: COVID-19: Low-intensity indoor fitness allowed as Alberta ‘cautiously’ enters Step 2

Gibney said the government was under extreme pressure to show some movement forward in the province’s reopening plan and the distinction between high-intensity and low-intensity exercise was a good one to make.

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He pointed to an incident in Hawaii where a spin instruction had COVID-19 but wasn’t symptomatic yet. All 10 people in the class got COVID-19.

“There’s no question that heavy breathing in a close space with poor ventilation is a significant risk for COVID,” Gibney said. 
Click to play video: 'Some easing of COVID-19 restrictions could come before Step 3: Alberta health minister' Some easing of COVID-19 restrictions could come before Step 3: Alberta health minister
Some easing of COVID-19 restrictions could come before Step 3: Alberta health minister – Mar 1, 2021

Before the province moves further into Step 2 though, Gibney thinks the province needs to look at the restrictions around dining in at restaurants and pubs, saying there’s “no question” that not only variant cases are increasing, but cases are also creeping up with the original form of the virus.

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“We think that a lot of that is probably happening in bars and restaurants at the moment, where people are simply not obeying the current guidelines of having just one household per table and not congregating in groups,” he said.

“We’re not saying that you have to close them down, but there are there are regulations and regulations really do need to be enforced because these can become super-spreader events and can come back to bite us pretty badly.”

Gibney stressed it’s also crucial to get as much of the population vaccinated as quickly as possible. Now that all residents of public long-term care and supportive living facilities have been vaccinated, he said the number of deaths will slow down. But he said it’s crucial to get to the next phase of vaccinations.
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Click to play video: '‘We have to proceed cautiously while moving forward’: Kenney on Step 2 of Alberta’s pandemic reopening plan' ‘We have to proceed cautiously while moving forward’: Kenney on Step 2 of Alberta’s pandemic reopening plan
‘We have to proceed cautiously while moving forward’: Kenney on Step 2 of Alberta’s pandemic reopening plan – Mar 1, 2021
In Phase 2A of the vaccination plan, all Albertans aged 65-74 would be eligible to receive the vaccine. That age group is crucial, Gibney said, because the mean age of ICU admissions is 60.
On Monday, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health said over 31,000 seniors eligible in this round had received their first dose of the vaccine.
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Gibney said Alberta is vaccinating seniors at a rate of about 10,000 people per day.

Read more: COVID-19: Some businesses disappointed by Alberta’s Step 2 reopening plan

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