Assistance from the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) to combat Alberta’s critical COVID-19 situation is expected to arrive on Monday, the federal government said on Saturday.
Up to eight CAF critical care nurses are expected arrive in Alberta to assist the province’s strained intensive care units, according to a statement issued by Public Safety Canada. It said that up to 20 medical professionals from the Canadian Red Cross will also be arriving Monday.
CAF personnel have previously been deployed to long-term care facilities in Ontario and Quebec in response to outbreaks there.
The announcement comes as Alberta is facing its worst wave of COVID-19. Alberta has the highest rate of infections in the country, at close to four times the national average, and Albertans are dying of COVID-19 at close to three times the rate of anywhere else in Canada — rivalled only by Saskatchewan.
Dr. Ilan Schwartz, a physician and assistant professor of infectious diseases at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, says Alberta hospitals are currently unable to offer life-saving surgery or safe emergency care to those that desperately need it and some are consistently running at more than 100 per cent ICU capacity, making for a “completely dysfunctional health-care system.”
Premier Jason Kenney has rejected calls for stricter measures, saying the province was still monitoring the impact of new public health measures that recently went into effect. Kenney and his government have previously resisted vaccine passports, lifted mask mandates and even planned to abandon test, trace and isolate protocols before backtracking as cases rose.
What’s happening around the world
As of Saturday, more than 234.3 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus-tracking tool. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.7 million.
In Europe, more than 5,000 people protested Saturday in Romania’s capital of Bucharest to reject upcoming measures used by authorities to combat an alarming surge infections.
In Asia, U.K. nationals visiting India this month will have to undergo mandatory quarantine even if they are fully vaccinated in retaliation for U.K. curbs on Indian citizens, a senior government source in New Delhi told Reuters.
In the Americas, the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 has eclipsed 700,000, with 100,000 people dying in the past three months when vaccines were available to any American over age 12.
In Africa, Nigeria got approval on for $400 million US in World Bank financing to procure and deploy COVID-19 vaccinations, the