EDMONTON – The Alberta Medical Association has sent a letter to the premier, saying it’s gravely concerned about the impact eliminating COVID-19 restrictions will have on children.
It says removing the need to self-isolate or wear masks will further accelerate the spread of the delta variant.
“Evidence shows that the Delta variant is more contagious than seasonal influenza and spreads as easily as the chicken pox virus. Over 1.5 million Albertans remain unvaccinated and over half a million children under 12 are still ineligible for the vaccine, which leaves us far from reaching herd immunity and nowhere near the endemic phase of COVID-19,” reads the letter.
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Pediatricians with the AMA say high numbers of infections in children translate to more kids who develop serious illnesses such as multisystem inflammatory syndrome or severe pneumonia.
The letter to Jason Kenney says although it is relatively rare for children to become seriously ill with COVID-19, pediatric intensive care unit beds in Alberta generally operate at 100 per cent capacity and could be overwhelmed if the virus becomes widespread in schools.
It points to other jurisdictions that are dealing with a spike in cases.
“We have seen rapid increases in pediatric hospitalizations in Florida and Louisiana upon abandoning their protective measures (while maintaining their testing and contact tracing), and Louisiana has already reinstated their indoor mask mandate in response to this rise,” the doctors say.
“There is no scientific basis to abandon [testing, tracing, and isolating] during the start of a fourth wave of the pandemic.”
The delta variant has unknown long-term effects in children.
The AMA says strong public health measures must remain until herd immunity is reached and 85 per cent of Albertans are immunized.
Currently, about 66 per cent of Albertans 12 and up have been fully vaccinated.
“Failure to do so is an abdication of our responsibility to protect those who may not be in a position to protect themselves.”
Kenney has maintained that the changes from the government were brought forward by Hinshaw and they are based in science.