A COVID-19 outbreak at a Calgary hospital that includes cases related to the more contagious Delta variant of the virus has grown to 33 people, including 10 fully vaccinated.
Kerry Williamson, executive director of communications for Alberta Health Services (AHS), said 22 of the cases where Foothills Medical Center affects the Delta variant have been confirmed. The majority of cases are mild, although two patients, including one of the confirmed variant cases, required intensive care.
Mr Williamson said an investigation was ongoing to find out how the cases were acquired but that the majority appeared to be hospital related. Despite the spike, one unit was taken from the outbreak status on Wednesday and no new cases have been reported on any of the units since May 20, he said.
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Experts have raised concerns about the variants, particularly the delta variant, which is found to be more effective at infecting people who have received only one dose of a two-dose regimen. The Delta variant, which was first associated with India, represents a small percentage of total cases in Alberta, but it has increased.
Alberta Health data shows 119 cases of the variant reported from May 1 to June 5. The delta variant accounted for nearly 8 percent of the new cases reported last Sunday, compared with less than 1 percent two weeks earlier.
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Deena Hinshaw, said AHS has put strict outbreak protocols in place at Foothills Medical Center that she said “work”. She said health officials are monitoring people who become infected despite two doses of the vaccine, but stressed that fully vaccinated people still have strong protection against the variant.
“What we are monitoring now is whether they [the fully vaccinated peopled] As expected, had a milder course of the disease, ”she said on Thursday. “There are still some people who can become infected. … We know from the data in the UK that the effectiveness of mRNA vaccines increases to the high 80’s after a second dose. “
The province also opened second doses to people who received their first shots in April, which was originally expected to be next week.
Last fall, the Foothills Medical Center experienced another outbreak that saw 26 patients tested positive for COVID-19 in two cardiac stations, as well as 27 healthcare workers. In addition, 136 health care workers were forced into isolation.
Mr Williamson said health care workers who have been working on the affected units since the recent outbreak began have been prevented from working on other units at FMC or other locations in the Calgary Zone. Admission to the two affected units and the transfer of patients to long-term care facilities or shared apartments are suspended.
A pop-up health care worker clinic was held on affected units this week and about 600 received their second dose of COVID-19 vaccinations, he said. In addition, the management and nursing staff of the units concerned were instructed to “exercise particular vigilance” with regard to personal protective equipment and work ability tests.
Mr Williamson said that patients discharged from the hospital will be given isolation guidance and followed up by public health staff. For those who do not have a safe place to isolate themselves, accommodations are provided in a designated isolation hotel.
A recent study from the UK found that people who received a single dose of an mRNA vaccine received only 33 percent protection from symptomatic infections from the Delta variant. However, after people are fully immunized against the virus, the study said their protection from the Delta strain increased significantly.
Lynora Saxinger, associate professor of infectious diseases in the University of Alberta’s medical school, said while the province is now in a better position than it was on the third wave in terms of cases and hospital admissions, the Delta tribe poses the greatest threat in the region dar province.
In high-risk environments like hospitals, the Delta variant is the most worrying, especially given the spread of the virus between people who have only received one dose of the vaccine.
“If we can push second cans, I think that would help a lot,” she said.
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