COVID-19 Live Updates: News on coronavirus in Calgary for May 16 – Calgary Herald

Watch this page throughout the day for updates on COVID-19 in Calgary


SEOUL — North Korea has mobilized its military to distribute COVID medications and deployed more than 10,000 health workers to help trace potential patients as it fights a sweeping coronavirus wave, state media KCNA said on Tuesday.

The isolated country is grappling with its first acknowledged COVID-19 outbreak, which it confirmed last week, fueling concerns over a major crisis due to a lack of vaccines and adequate medical infrastructure.

The state emergency epidemic prevention headquarters reported 269,510 more people with fever symptoms, bringing the total to 1,483,060, while the death toll grew to 56 as of Monday evening, KCNA said. It did not say how many people have tested positive for COVID-19.

“A powerful force” of the army’s medical corps was immediately deployed to improve the supply of medicines in the capital Pyongyang, the center of the epidemic, following an order by leader Kim Jong Un, KCNA reported.

The team’s mission was aimed at “defusing the public health crisis” in Pyongyang, it said.

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The Crown’s bid to have chronic sex offender Douglas Gordon Jenik locked up indefinitely has been derailed for a second time by the novel coronavirus.

Defence lawyer Telmo Dos Santos told court Monday that because Judge Margaret Keelaghan is ill and not available to start Jenik’s dangerous offender hearing until Wednesday the case had to be adjourned.

The defence lawyer said he could extend his availability for two extra days to fit the eight days required for the hearing, but because of personal circumstances Crown prosecutor Janice Walsh couldn’t do the same.

Jenik pleaded guilty last April to charges of sexual assault and breaching his 10-year, long-term supervision order for a July 30, 2020, attack inside a downtown apartment complex.

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Residents of Quebec long-term care homes were kept in a blind spot while the provincial government reacted to the oncoming wave of the novel coronavirus in the spring of 2020, according to a long-awaited coroner’s report.

Health Department officials were aware that older people were among the most vulnerable to COVID-19, yet officials failed to give specific instructions to long-term care centres, Gehane Kamel said in her report released Monday.

“This indicates that even though we were aware, we nevertheless chose to keep seniors, specifically people living in (long-term care centres), in a pandemic planning blind spot,” Kamel said.

Kamel’s inquest looked at 53 deaths in long-term care during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, including 47 at the Herron, a private Montreal-area care home. She said Quebec’s early pandemic response suffered from a lack of co-ordination and from a Health Department that was over-centralized.

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University of Alberta general internal medicine professor Dr. Finlay McAlister is the lead author of a study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, that examined the records of adult patients hospitalized for COVID in Ontario and Alberta from the start of 2020 to September 2021. Of more than 800,000 people who tested positive on a PCR test in both provinces, 5.5 per cent needed hospital care.

Of the people who were admitted to hospital with COVID, 18 per cent died there. But for those who were discharged after recovering, one in nine were readmitted or died within 30 days. Patients who died were generally older, had multiple health conditions and were more likely to be male.

McAlister, who has cared for many COVID patients on the general medicine wards during the pandemic, said the data helps fill gaps about what happens to people after they survive the disease.

“There’s been a lot of attention, obviously, paid to admissions for COVID … and not a lot of attention paid to the post-discharge period.”

He said this study shows that rates of readmission to hospital after surviving COVID are roughly in line with readmission rates after a hospital stay for influenza or other respiratory infections.

That’s valuable information for hospital discharge planning, but McAlister added that it’s also important to note the way patient risk for COVID looks different than influenza: 14 per cent of hospitalized COVID patients needed ICU care, and 18 per cent died — much higher rates than influenza in past years. COVID patients also have longer hospital stays, on average, than people with influenza.

“A lot of the COVID risk seems to be upfront, during the initial hospitalization,” McAlister said.

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South Korea’s President Yoon Suk-yeol said on Monday the country will spare no effort to help North Korea, as the isolated nation battles a COVID-19 outbreak, and reiterated he will remain open for humanitarian aid.

“If North Korea responds (to our support), we will spare no medicines including COVID-19 vaccines, medical equipment and health personnel,” said Yoon in a speech at the plenary session of the National Assembly.

Separately in the speech, Yoon also said he will discuss with U.S. President Joe Biden ways to strengthen cooperation on the global supply chain through the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. Biden is scheduled to visit the country this week.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called the growing outbreak of a fever “the big upheaval since the nation’s founding” as state media reported more new cases Saturday.

There were about 296,000 cases of fever with 15 deaths on Saturday, the Korean Central News Agency said, adding to the more than 170,000 cases reported the previous day. The total death toll stands at 42.

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Shanghai set out plans on Monday for the end of a painful COVID-19 lockdown that has lasted more than six weeks, heavily bruising China’s economy, and for the return of more normal life from June 1.

In the clearest timetable yet, Deputy Mayor Zong Ming said Shanghai would reopen in stages, with movement curbs largely to remain in place until May 21 to prevent a rebound in infections, before an easing.

“From June 1 to mid- and late June, as long as risks of a rebound in infections are controlled, we will fully implement epidemic prevention and control, normalize management, and fully restore normal production and life in the city,” she said.

But the announcement was met with skepticism by some Shanghai residents, who have repeatedly been disappointed by shifting schedules for the lifting of restrictions.

“Shanghai, Shanghai … am I still supposed to believe you?” one member of the public said on the Weibo social media platform.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called the growing outbreak of a fever “the big upheaval since the nation’s founding” as state media reported more new cases Saturday.

There were about 296,000 cases of fever with 15 deaths, the Korean Central News Agency said, adding to the more than 170,000 cases reported the previous day. The total death toll stands at 42.

Kim has ordered a lockdown of major cities since the country said earlier this week it found a COVID case within its borders. With some 820,000 cases reported since, Kim is seeking to beef up quarantine efforts as the outbreak has the potential to devastate a population that relies on an antiquated health care system and remains largely malnourished, with likely no vaccines.

Read more.

Two dozen surgeries scheduled to take place this week at the Rockyview General Hospital have been postponed due to staff shortages.

AHS spokesperson Kerry Williamson confirmed 24 surgeries have been postponed between May 16 and May 20 due to a number of staff illnesses and absences. Williamson said the delays represent about seven per cent of the approximately 325 surgeries that are performed at the south Calgary hospital each week.

“We acknowledge that this will cause some stress and anxiety to our impacted surgical patients,” said Williamson in an email statement Friday night. “However we have exhausted all efforts to avoid this temporary service disruption.”

Williamson said AHS is working hard to reschedule the surgeries as quickly as possible. All urgent and emergency surgeries will continue.

Read more.

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