Since the announcement by Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw on July 28 regarding the removal of most measures to control and track the spread of COVID-19, Albertans have been gathering daily in growing numbers to protest against the impending implementation of a public health policy significantly out of step with prevailing scientific opinion on how best to respond to the continuing global pandemic.
UNA understands the urgency felt by governments to reopen society as fully and as quickly as possible. And UNA recognizes the effectiveness and key roles of COVID-19 vaccines in controlling and ending the pandemic.
But UNA also recognizes, as has been clearly demonstrated in Alberta in the past year and a half, that rushing to reopen in the face of a persistent and aggressive infectious disease is a formula for longer and more severe restrictions, more death and disability, and higher costs to the economy than what could be achieved by a steady and cautious approach to ending restrictions.
In light of the emergence of the more virulent Delta variant of the coronavirus and the likelihood it can be transmitted by asymptomatic individuals and spread rapidly among children too young to be vaccinated, the international consensus on how best to reduce the spread of COVID-19 at this point in the pandemic, the actions taken by most national and regional governments, and the deep concerns expressed by Albertans of all ages and political convictions, UNA strongly urges the provincial government to reverse its decision to eliminate essential COVID-19 containment measures such as testing, contact tracing and isolating and to adopt a more cautious policy for the gradual return to a fully open society.
It should be obvious that with the Delta variant dominant in Alberta, now is not the time to abandon most tracking and control measures and thereby deprive Albertans of the information they need to decide how best to protect themselves and their families. There is a reason that a reopening policy as extreme as Alberta’s has been adopted nowhere else in the world.
It is also clear that the current course adopted by the Alberta Government has the potential to once again cause crisis conditions in our health care system, as is already happening in some U.S. jurisdictions with stricter controls on the spread of COVID-19 than those proposed by the Alberta Government.
Moreover, it is well understood that the potential for long-term effects including disability is a concern for a significant percentage of children too young to vaccinate who become infected.
With the advent of effective vaccines, deaths and disabilities caused at this point in the pandemic are preventable.
Accordingly, UNA urges the following steps be immediately implemented:
- Continued aggressive testing for COVID infections
- Continued tracing of the contacts of infected persons
- Continued requirement for the isolation of infectious persons
- Development of a cautious plan for the reopening of school in September that includes masking in school settings, infection tracking, and isolation of infected persons
- Moving toward the reopening of society in sync with other Canadian and international jurisdictions
UNA is grateful to the Albertans who are expressing their support for a cautious program of testing, tracing and isolation and urges UNA members to participate in public rallies in their communities calling for a more prudent approach to what we all hope are the last stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. UNA further urges members to do so to while appropriately masked and physically distanced.