Skip to main content

New COVID-19 variant posing new questions about public health, individual decisions


Many Albertans seem to be taking a wait-and-see approach when it comes to the latest COVID-19 variant in the province. 

Four cases of the new Omicron strain have been confirmed by government officials to CTV News. The highly-transmissible "Kraken" strain is becoming dominant in many countries, and some experts suspect Canada won't be far behind. 

But at the Calgary International Airport, that doesn't appear to have changed the behaviour of many travellers.  

Masks were few and far between Thursday afternoon and many of those jet-setting said they won't don a face covering unless it's "absolutely necessary."

Some experts think that time is closing in. 

"If we could delay (the strain's dominance) until spring, we would be in such a better place," biologist Gosia Gasperowicz said. "And we could do much, much more."

Gasperowicz is just one voice currently calling for new public health measures to help fend off the variant. 

"We could put mask requirements for everybody in public places, in schools and hospitals and so on, because we know that works," she told CTV News. "The other things we can do is putting HEPA air purifiers in public places, because they reduce aerosols in the air -- especially in enclosed spaces."

Alberta Health is expected to release updated COVID-19 data on Friday.

There is no indication Alberta will go down that path under Premier Danielle Smith. 

A statement from her health minister's office Thursday touched on the unpredictability of the "Kraken" strain and echoed the messaging from many doctors: so much is still unknown about the latest variant and what its severity could do to care facilities. 

"The vast majority of Albertans and Canadians have been infected with Omicron, as shown by seroprevalence data," a statement from spokesperson Steve Buick said. "COVID is certainly still putting pressure on the hospitals, but proportionally, the impact is far less than before.

"That does not mean we're at no risk: just less risk."

Alberta Health is expected to release updated COVID-19 data on Friday. Top Stories

'Rust' armourer gets 18 months in prison for fatal shooting by Alec Baldwin on set

A movie weapons supervisor was sentenced to 18 months in prison in the fatal shooting of a cinematographer by Alec Baldwin on the set of the Western film "Rust," during a hearing Monday in which tearful family members and friends gave testimonials that included calls for justice and a punishment that would instill greater accountability for safety on film sets.

Here's what to expect in the 2024 federal budget

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland will be presenting the 2024 federal budget on Tuesday, revealing how the federal Liberal government intends to balance the nearly $40 billion in pre-announced new spending with her vow to remain fiscally prudent.

Prince Harry in legal setback about security protection in U.K.

Prince Harry's fight for police protection in the U.K. received another setback on Monday, when a judge rejected his request to appeal an earlier ruling upholding a government panel's decision to limit his access to publicly funded security after giving up his status as a working member of the royal family.

Stay Connected