Dr. Hinshaw defends decision to cancel summer events

Apr 24 2020, 3:46 pm

Alberta’s top doctor gave more details Friday about why she’s forbidden mass gatherings through the summer.

At her daily press briefing, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw said she’s received some criticism for Thursday’s order limiting summer gatherings to 15 people, which forces many summer festivals, concerts, and fairs to be cancelled.

Hinshaw’s detractors have apparently said “Albertans have sacrificed so much already, how can I ask them to give up their summer?,” she said Friday.

She does not want people to be under the mistaken impression that a levelling off in the number of new cases every day means the coronavirus will disappear over the summer. Instead, that levelling is a result of collective effort to stay inside and limit physical interactions.

“Unfortunately, this virus does not respect our feelings. We have no easy options,” Hinshaw said.

She recounted several social gatherings early on in the pandemic’s course that resulted in massive amounts of new cases. For example, out of 73 people who attended a curling bonspiel in Alberta, 40 left infected with the coronavirus. Those people went home and passed the virus on to their close contacts, some of whom are healthcare workers, Hinshaw said.

She said there were several other events where on infected person spawned between 13 and 40 new cases in just one day.

“The kind of social gatherings we are used to can result in significant spread of the virus from one person who may not know they are infected,” Hinshaw said. “The results can be explosive, far-reaching, and deadly.”

She didn’t want to blame people who attended thinking they were healthy, but was clear that everyone must follow physical distancing recommendations to get the virus under control.

“I am keenly aware of the depth to which these measures are affecting everyone. I do not take them lightly. I ask you to do the same.”