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COVID-19: Edmonton Doctors Urge Alberta Government to Test, Trace, Isolate

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A group of Edmonton doctors are calling on the Alberta government to restore testing, tracking and isolation of COVID-19 to control viral spread.

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Ten doctors from the Edmonton Area Medical Staff Association have signed an open letter drawing attention to the threats posed by the Delta variant and the potential for pediatric and adult intensive care units to be overloaded if Alberta continues with her approach.

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Close contacts of people who test positive for COVID-19 are no longer reported by contact trackers, nor are they required to be isolated.

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As of August 16, even infected individuals will not be legally required to be isolated.

The association says Alberta is going against advice from Health Canada, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

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The group is urging the province to review existing data and provide sound evidence before weakening COVID-19 control measures.

“We are concerned about the rapid speed of these changes and that you have not provided scientific data to the Albertans to justify these unprecedented actions,” the letter reads.

“There are recurring waves of COVID-19 variants moving around the world and we have not yet reached a safe state with a consistently low virus level in our community.”

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Edmonton doctor Katherine Kasha is preparing for the changes coming in COVID-19 testing in the province.

As of Aug. 31, Alberta will pass tests from assessment centers in primary care, including doctors’ offices, but the move has so far not been well received.

“A lot of the doctors I talk to are talking about sweeping in parking lots, as simply the safest way to keep people out of symptoms outside the office,” Kasha said.

The president of the Alberta Medical Association said many clinics are already too busy and are not equipped or ready to take on this.

“I do not think it is reasonable for clinics to take on the whole burden of community testing, and so we really need to have a conversation about what the alternatives are,” said Dr. Paul Boucher, president of AMA.

Kasha said he has not yet been given any information from the province on how it will turn out this is not ideal for medical staff and patients.

“The fact remains that we do not have the space to do so,” she said.

“I can not have symptomatic people, coughing near my newborns and my elderly people who have not been vaccinated – we simply do not have the capacity to let go of the money needed to provide personal protective equipment.”

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But Kasha said people who have a cough or cold can get the help they need, they will just have to stay away from the clinic.

“Everyone I’ve talked to says, ‘No, we don’t want symptomatic (people) in our clinics.’ “It’s not safe for anyone and we need more direction basically,” she said.

Kasha encouraged people with symptoms not to panic and stay home if they could.

“Most of us will have phone visits where we can assess and make sure you are safe and then make a plan from there,” she said.

Boucher said he believes doctors will be given more information, he just does not know how fast it could be.

-With files from Chris Chacon of Global News

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© 2021 Canadian Press

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