Carol O’Connor, anthropologist Dr. Anne Irwin and nurse practitioner Nicole Armstrong protest outside Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan’s office Sunday afternoon. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

Carol O’Connor, anthropologist Dr. Anne Irwin and nurse practitioner Nicole Armstrong protest outside Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan’s office Sunday afternoon. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

‘It’s just unconscionable’: Group in Red Deer protests removal of remaining COVID-19 protocols

A Red Deer woman says she plans to protest outside of Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan’s office every day, as the provincial government continues scaling down COVID-19 restrictions in Alberta.

Dr. Anne Irwin, an anthropologist, said she “couldn’t believe it” when she learned about the province’s plan to relax its COVID-19 surveillance and management system.

“It just puts everybody in Red Deer and Alberta at risk, especially the children who have not been vaccinated. There are more than 600,00 children under 12 who cannot be vaccinated,” Irwin said while protesting outside Stephan’s office with a small group Sunday afternoon.

“It’s an absolutely immoral and dangerous policy. As of (Aug. 16), unless we can stop them, even people who have been confirmed to be infected with the Delta variant of COVID, which is highly contagious, will not have to disclose or isolate.”

READ MORE: Alberta to drop mandatory COVID-19 isolation for positive cases on Aug. 16

Starting Aug. 16, isolation will no longer be legally required for people who test positive for the virus. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said it will still be strongly recommended last week.

Testing for COVID-19 will also only be recommended for those who have severe symptoms and need hospital care, and won’t be required for those who have mild symptoms. Remaining provincial mask mandates will also be lifted.

“I’m not personally scared for myself – I’ve had both my vaccines and I’m very careful. I’m terrified for the children of this province, for the health-care workers and for the whole health-care system, which has already been stressed to the limit,” Irwin said.

“All of the health-care workers who have been working 70- or 80-hour weeks, keeping people alive through this pandemic, they now have their hands tied. They’re not even allowed to do the absolute minimal public health protocols that are normal for any epidemic or any communicable disease. It’s just unconscionable.”

Protests were also held in Calgary and Edmonton Sunday in response to the removal of Alberta’s remaining COVID-19 protocols.

“The children of our province are not sacrificial lambs. They should not be sacrificed for whatever political motivation (Premier) Jason Kenney has. Any UCP MLA who doesn’t stand up to this policy is complicit and will be complicit in the deaths and long-term health impacts on children in this province,” Irwin said.

This past week, many of Canada’s top doctors, including Dr. Theresa Tam, the country’s chief public health officer, said Alberta’s decision to end isolation requirements could have ripple effects across the country.

About 75 per cent of eligible Albertans have received at least one dose of vaccine and 65 per cent are fully immunized.

That means there are hundreds of thousands of unvaccinated people in Alberta, Tam said, creating the potential for large COVID-19 clusters and outbreaks.

“The bottom line is get vaccinated. There’s still a ways to go in Alberta.”

—With files from The Canadian Press



sean.mcintosh@reddeeradvocate.com

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