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Calls grow for Alberta to recognize aerosol transmission of COVID-19


Alberta’s healthcare system still believes it is "not clear" what role aerosol transmission plays in the spread of the COVID-19 virus for distances greater than two metres. 

Alberta Health says aerosol transmission is not a predominant mode of transmission except for health care settings, when performing aerosol generating medical procedures (AGMPs) and during specific circumstances in community settings.

That is information the province has relied on since November 2020. 

However, the World Health Organization said in July – and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) said in November – that COVID-19 can be transmitted through small airborne droplets.

One Calgary doctor believes the province is falling behind and not changing its mitigation measures with time.

"We have this difficulty acknowledging that in our scientific community. I don’t understand it," said emergency room physician Joe Vipond.

"I feel that if we could successfully acknowledge that and put in airborne mitigation measures, we would be way further ahead not only in our hospitals – that are continuing to suffer under outbreak after outbreak – but also with the public and other workers in non-healthcare fields.”

Vipond says the personal protective equipment Albertans is just not adequate enough when recognizing aerosol transmission. He believes the common surgical mask does not work as well as an N95 respirator, something he believes all Albertans should have. 

"We are putting people with symptoms in special places and with special equipment and yet your healthcare colleague or a patient with a shoulder dislocation could just as easily be infected with COVID and you don’t know it,” he said. 

The Dandy Brewing Company says it does not want to see another shutdown and would accept any help from the province if airborne transmission is acknowledged. 

"There’s a light at the end of the tunnel for a lot of us in this industry, so anything we can do to prepare and protect to stay open and keep everyone safe, that’s top of mind for us," said co-owner Ben Leon.

Alberta Health says the predominant mode of transmission of COVID-19 is via large respiratory droplets during close unprotected contact. Top Stories

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