Alberta doctors call for more action with health system 'on verge of collapse'

The chorus of doctors calling for the province to take further action grew louder Monday with open letters coming from ICU, paediatric doctors and the AMA.

They follow a fourth letter sent over the weekend by former Chief Medical Officer of Health for Alberta Dr. James Talbot calling for a "firebreak" to curb the rising case count and hospitalizations.

Alberta reported 5,201 new cases over three days including 23 more deaths. There are now 265 people in ICU with COVID-19.

Talbot said the province should immediately shut down all bars, indoor dining, and gyms, casinos, and sports facilities for four weeks to curb surging cases.

“Recognize that if you're indoors for more than 15 minutes at a time, that's where the highest risk of transmission is," Talbot said. "Let's close this window."

He had harsh words for the provincial government, calling its approach "delusional."

"They believe that you can create experienced ICU nurses, who require specialized training and a significant amount of experience, out of nowhere,” Talbot said.

"We're looking at a workforce that has spent 18 months working their asses off, who are worn out, who spent the first six months afraid for their lives and the lives of their loved ones," said Talbot. "(Doctors and nurses) have indicated every time there's been a surge that they need the government to act early and act effectively, only to watch the government fail to do both.”

COPPING RESPONDS

A spokesperson for newly appointed health minister Jason Copping said in a statement the province would continue to build ICU capacity, saying the measures currently in effect have worked to bend down previous surges and the government expects them to be effective again.

The Canadian Paediatric Society urged the Kenney government to take "immediate action to reduce the suffering of children, youth, and families across the province."

The letter released Monday said new daily COVID cases for children up to 11-years-old are now 10 times what they were in early August. It also says more active cases are reported in ages 19 and under than in people over the age of 50.

Children less than 12 years old are currently not eligible for the available vaccines. Initial trials are showing promise the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine could be proven safe in the coming months at a reduced dose for children ages five and older.

Some of the doctors have also called for mandatory vaccinations for all non-essential services and most employers.

The province says it will continue to encourage vaccine uptake. In comments on The Roy Green Show over the weekend, the premier said he is not considering any form of lock-down, saying it would only hurt the vaccinated.