Friday, 25 Sep 2020

ICU doctor warns Albertans to be cautious amid COVID-19 relaunch: ‘I see the consequences’

An Edmonton physician is warning the public that the novel coronavirus is still with us as restrictions continue to ease in Alberta.

Dr. Darren Markland, who works in intensive care at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, took to social media on Sunday to say that the hospital has admitted a new patient to the ICU with COVID-19. It comes after weeks without a new patient, he said.

“After a lovely hiatus I am saddened to report that #COVID19 has returned to our ICU,” Markland tweeted.

“Our patient is young and was healthy. They are now very sick and on a ventilator. We will take excellent care of them, but what happens next is up to you.”

Markland said the social media post was not meant to alarm Albertans, but serve as reminder to everyone that the novel coronavirus is still with us.

“I don’t send these things out to instill fear or make them unnecessarily afraid but I want them to be just as aware about what’s going on as I am,” Markland said via Skype from the hospital on Sunday.

“I’m no different that anybody out there. I want summer to be good and I’m starting to relax a little bit but what stops me from relaxing is that I work here. I see the consequences very quickly.”

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On Sunday, Alberta reported 50 new cases of COVID-19 and the number of active cases of the disease is on the rise.

Recoveries are also rising but they’re not outweighing the number of new cases. Between last Monday and Sunday, there were 163 additional recoveries in Alberta; however, there were 231 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed during that time.

As of Sunday afternoon, there were 46 people in hospital with COVID-19, seven of whom were in ICUs.

Markland said the Royal Alex still has a patient in the ICU who has been there since the first phase who got “incredibly sick and has not been able to come out.”

“We haven’t had a new admission in almost a month now,” Markland said.

It is to be expected that the number of cases would rise again, Markland said, but he encourages people to continue to listen to the guidance of Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw.

“You have to take risks every day and there’s a risk that this could get out of control but I think the plan has been very well instituted, the communication has been excellent and we’re prepared for more of this — but that requires participation from the public too and constant hygiene — both mentally and physically. I want you to wash your hands but I want you to think about others every day.”

Markland said Albertans have done very well in flattening and curve and as more restrictions ease and businesses start to reopen, he wants to ensure people keep the virus top of mind.

“Keep your guard up,” he said. “This is something that we have to be continually vigilant about.

“It’s human nature to say we’ve succeeded and conquered this but we haven’t. These were the mid-terms and our final exam is going to happen when we have a vaccine.”

Health experts have also expressed concerns that there may be an increase of COVID-19 cases in the fall, when we typically see a spike in influenza and other respiratory viruses.

“What’s really going to be concerning is fall. So as I keep saying, have a good summer but keep your skills up because in the fall we’re really going to need people to buckle down.”

Markland encourages Albertans to wear masks when out in public where physical distancing is not possible. Hinshaw has also recommended people wear non-medical face masks in situations where two metres of distance cannot be maintained.

“They are part of the things that help prevent the spread of it and I recommend doing it. It’s come along with a lot of stigma and it was a point that people love to argue about, including myself. But I don’t argue about it anymore.”

Alberta Health is expected to update the public on the current COVID-19 situation again on Monday afternoon.

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