The number of positive COVID-19 cases is skyrocketing in Alberta. The government has taken further steps to reduce its transmission. The chief health officer of the province, who is facing an epidemic of an “never-before-known” magnitude, gave an interview to the Franco. While recounting the stress of her role that she has faced in recent months, she takes stock of the worrying situation at the moment in Alberta.
The second wave is there, and exceeds the height of the first. “We have a problem today with COVID-19, we have the highest number of cases that we have ever had”, alert Deena Hinshaw this Wednesday, November 4. Since that interview, the situation has worsened further. On Saturday, November 7, the province counted 919 new cases for one day. Day by day, Alberta is surpassing its previous records.
She explains the consequences of this. “In Edmonton, there are enough beds to handle COVID cases and the most urgent care. But all the less urgent surgeries have been postponed ”. In addition, “healthcare workers are really tired. They worked really hard for several months. They take all the health precautions which takes longer and it can be more difficult ”.
New measures in place
To counter this increase, the government relied on its recommendations by implementing additional measures. Deena Hinshaw assures us that the health services closely observe “where the majority of transmissions come from”: social events and households. In fact, she recalls that if someone has symptoms in a household, they should wear a mask, stay away from others in the house, use a different bathroom if possible, and clean the surfaces that they need. ‘he touches.
For the chief health officer, there is no question of closing bars or restaurants as was the case last March. “We are working really hard with bar and restaurant owners to make sure that they are tracking the number of cases transmitted in their restaurants. What we are currently seeing in our data is that there are not many people who are infected in restaurants, ”she reassures her.
“At the start of the pandemic, we took a wild approach because we didn’t know much about this virus and we were aware of it,” she says. She says, however, that if the data shows the opposite, “we will consider it preferable to establish other restrictions.”
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“Lots of responsibilities”
When asked if the health of Albertans sometimes clashes with political considerations, the University of Alberta graduate remains unmoved. “My job is to make my own recommendations based on the best evidence available. Politicians are elected to make decisions on behalf of the people. So they take my recommendations, they always listen to them very respectfully, bring my recommendations into consideration and make decisions for Albertans in the bigger picture ”.
“A lot of responsibilities that I don’t take lightly,” says the one who ended up with a global epidemic on her hands. When she was appointed Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health in January 2019, Deena certainly did not expect to experience “those long days” a year later. “I couldn’t anticipate the type of work I got involved in. I knew it was a big challenge, but I didn’t expect to have such a challenge so quickly. “
She says she is grateful to be surrounded by a truly talented team. “We have learned a lot, and I continue to do my best to serve Albertans in this role.” This role, which she describes as stressful, the Chief Medical Officer of Health must assume today more than ever.
Notes: The Réseau santé albertain has a number of resources available to guide Francophones in the province. You can consult them on their website https://www.reseausantealbertain.ca/, in the “Info Virus” section. The situation is changing fast, so are the restrictions. To view the latest updates, you can go to on this link (in English).
Deena Hinshaw’s French
The chief health officer of the province is no stranger to the language of Molière. Having learned it from grade 6 to 12 at school, as well as during a three-month stay in Quebec, she ended her interview with special attention to the francophone community. “Thank you to everyone who is working to end COVID-19. I want to say thank you, because it’s not easy, but I really appreciate the work that people do ”.
How do hospitals deal with the most serious cases?
Asked about the subject, the chief health officer recalls that people with breathing difficulties must go to the hospital as soon as possible. On site, it is mainly assistance care that is performed. “For example oxygen, or if they are really having difficulty, they need the help of a ventilator in the intensive care unit.” The doctor says it has emerged in recent months that steroid use “really is the most effective treatment” for the most severe cases.
Deena Hinshaw explains that several experimental treatments are underway. Among them, Remdisivir. She says she does not have much information about this ongoing experiment. However, she adds “Until now, there are no experimental treatments which have unfortunately proved extremely effective”.
She cites for example hydroxychloroquine, a drug used against lupus that is debating in the scientific body as to its effectiveness against COVID-19. “A few people were enthusiastic about it, but we haven’t had any proof that it works at all,” she concludes.