‘I don’t think COVID is done with them’: Winnipeg doctor weighs in on loosened restrictions in Alberta

WINNIPEG — A Winnipeg doctor is weighing on the loosening of restrictions in Alberta, saying it seems “quite unwise” considering their rising COVID-19 case numbers.

“I think their provincial leaders want to be done with COVID,” said Dr. Anand Kumar, an ICU physician and infectious disease specialist.

“I don’t think COVID is done with them.”

On Wednesday, Alberta announced the province is shifting its public health response and lifting restrictions related to quarantine, isolation, and masks.

Some of the changes include not making people who test positive for COVID-19 quarantine anymore, though it will be recommended. Beginning on Aug. 16, masks also won’t be mandatory in public transit, rideshares and taxi cabs.

Alberta also said it is looking to transition from a pandemic strategy to an endemic strategy.

Kumar said an endemic strategy means letting COVID-19 run rampant for the most part. He added he doesn’t think other provinces will follow suit with this strategy.

“The endemic strategy definitely recognizes, as is going to be a fact, that without vaccine mandates this will become an endemic disease, that is to say, it will persist in the community long-term,” he said.

HOW WILL THIS IMPACT MANITOBA?

Kumar said he doesn’t think the loosened restrictions in Alberta will have too much of an impact on Manitoba.

“It could be to the extent that people in Alberta feel that they can be exposed and still come to Winnipeg and to Manitoba. I don’t think that will be a huge issue, I hope it won’t,” he said.

“The fact of the matter is, the level of activity in terms of COVID in the province is relatively similar, so my hope is it won’t have a significant adverse impact on us.”

As for whether Manitoba should loosen its restrictions, including its mask mandate, Kumar said the province should hold off for a little while.

“I think Manitoba is about two to three weeks behind Alberta, and we’re going to see an increase in cases, and that increase in cases is going to go up particularly rapidly once the schools open, because kids are unvaccinated,” he said.

– With files from CTV’s Renee Rodgers and Diego Romero.

 

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