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COVID-19 Live Updates: News on coronavirus in Calgary for Dec. 6

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Watch this page throughout the day for updates on COVID-19 in Calgary

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With news about COVID-19 happening quickly, we’ve created this page to bring you the latest stories and information about the outbreak in and around Calgary.

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City Council members are expected to discuss actions to reduce transmission of the Omicron variant

The new variant identified as B.1.1.529 has been declared a variant of concern by the World Health Organization and assigned the name Omicron.
The new variant identified as B.1.1.529 has been declared a variant of concern by the World Health Organization and assigned the name Omicron. Getty Images

The city council member hopes that discussions about Calgary’s response to the pandemic on Monday will clarify what actions can be taken to avoid a potential fifth wave of COVID-19 infections that could destroy the holiday.

Calgary City Council expects to hear an update on the pandemic Monday from the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, which is in Ward 7 area. Terry Wong expects this to lead to greater discussion about what the council should do immediately to stem the increase in infections.

As concern grows about the international spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant, Wong said he is looking for more information on how Omicron will impact local pandemic efforts, if the city’s current plans are adequate and how to better communicate with the public about Omicron.

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The Red Deer family has been exempted from the Canadian government’s temporary waiver of triple COVID test requirements for travelers from South Africa

The Red Deer family is relieved by the Canadian government’s decision to offer a temporary exemption from strict testing procedures to some travelers leaving South Africa, where their mother sails back to Alberta.

Anastasia Evans said her mother, Jolie, traveled to South Africa in early November due to her father’s poor health and was due to return this week. However, a wrench was thrown into her travel plans, when South African scientists sounded the alarm about a new type of coronavirus with a large number of mutations at the end of November.

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Early evidence suggests that the variant, called Omicron, is more transmissible than previous strains.

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Sunday

Calgary schools get 200 temporary teachers to support epidemiological learning loss

Physical distancing desks are placed inside a classroom at St Margaret's School in New Brighton on Tuesday, August 25, 2020.
Physical distancing desks are placed inside a classroom at St Margaret’s School in New Brighton on Tuesday, August 25, 2020. Gavin Young’s photo /Postmedia file

Calgary Public and Separate Schools have hired up to 200 temporary teachers to support epidemiological learning loss among students in early grades over the next four months.

But critics say the 16-week jobs aren’t nearly enough to replace the estimated 1,000 teachers and educational assistants lost during the pandemic cuts, particularly with learning lost across all grades.

With a one-time $45 million regional grant, the Calgary Board of Education has hired 135 teachers on temporary contracts, while another 65 will join the Calgary Catholic School Board to work with students in second and third grades in literacy and numeracy.

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Sunday

Members of Parliament on the Finance Committee are ready to review the Liberals’ latest pandemic aid package

Canadian Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland speaks at a press conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on November 24, 2021.
Canadian Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland speaks at a press conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on November 24, 2021. Photo by Reuters/Blair Gable

OTTAWA – Opposition MPs are preparing to review the Liberals’ latest pandemic aid package and question Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland on a myriad of economic issues.

The 12-member House of Commons Finance Committee is due to meet on Monday to bring the aid bill closer to a final vote before MPs leave on recess in two weeks.

As part of a compromise to speed up the legislation, the Liberals agreed to have Freeland sit for at least two hours of questioning before the committee.

This gives members of the opposition an opportunity to question Freeland about issues facing the local economy and the government’s response to the pandemic in general.

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Sunday

Canadian employers, facing a labor shortage, are absorbing the unvaccinated

file image
file image Image via Getty Images

OTTAWA – Canada’s tight labor market is forcing many companies to regularly offer COVID-19 testing on vaccine mandates, while others are reversing previously announced vaccination requirements even as cases of the Omicron variant rise.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has adopted one of the world’s strictest vaccination policies for civil servants, and has already put more than 1,000 workers on unpaid leave, with thousands more at risk.

Airlines, police forces, school boards and even Canada’s five biggest banks have also pledged strict mandatory vaccination policies. But the follow-up has proven less straightforward, especially as employers face staff shortages and workers are demanding exemptions.

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Job vacancies in Canada have doubled so far this year, official data shows, and vaccine mandates could make filling those jobs more difficult, potentially adding to the pressure on wages. This could increase inflation, which has already reached its highest level in two decades.

“It’s really hard to find employees, let alone put in place a mandate for a vaccine. It’s likely to cut another 20 per cent from potential workers,” said Dan Kelly, chief executive of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

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Saturday

Omicron variant may have picked up a piece of the common cold virus

People queue up at a pop-up at a COVID-19 testing site in New York, US, December 3, 2021.
People queue up at a pop-up at a COVID-19 testing site in New York, US, December 3, 2021. Photo courtesy of JEENAH MOON /Reuters

The Omicron variant that causes COVID-19 likely obtained at least one of its mutations by picking up a snippet of genetic material from another virus — possibly a virus that causes the common cold — present in the same infected cells, according to the researchers.

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The researchers said that this genetic sequence does not appear in any previous versions of the coronavirus, called SARS-CoV-2, but is ubiquitous in many other viruses including those that cause the common cold, as well as in the human genome.

By introducing this particular extract into itself, Omicron may make itself appear “more human,” which would help it evade attack by the human immune system, said Venky Soundararajan of the data analytics firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who led the study. Thursday on OSF Preprints.

This could mean that the virus is transmitted more easily, while causing only mild or no symptoms. Scientists don’t yet know if Omicron is more contagious than the other variants, whether it causes more serious disease or whether it will overtake Delta as the more prevalent variant. It may take several weeks to get answers to these questions.

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Sunday

More than 40,000 marches in Vienna against the closure of the Corona virus

People protesting against lockdown measures and vaccinations against Covid walk in the city center during the fourth wave of the novel coronavirus pandemic on December 4, 2021 in Vienna, Austria.  Thousands of people took to the streets today to protest against the lockdown measures imposed by the government aimed at curbing the spread of the virus and also against mandatory COVID vaccines due to come into effect across the country in February.
People protesting against lockdown measures and vaccinations against Covid walk in the city center during the fourth wave of the novel coronavirus pandemic on December 4, 2021 in Vienna, Austria. Thousands of people took to the streets today to protest against the lockdown measures imposed by the government aimed at curbing the spread of the virus and also against mandatory COVID vaccines due to come into effect across the country in February. Photo by Michael Gruber /Getty Images

VIENNA – More than 40,000 people marched across Vienna on Saturday to protest against the lockdown and plans to make vaccinations mandatory to curb the coronavirus pandemic.

Faced with a rising number of infections, the government last month made Austria the first country in Western Europe to reimpose a lockdown and said it would make vaccinations mandatory from February.

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Saturday

Two hippos in a Belgian zoo test positive for COVID-19

Hippos who recently tested positive for COVID-19 are seen at Antwerp Zoo, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in this photo posted from the summer of 2021.
Hippos who recently tested positive for COVID-19 are seen at Antwerp Zoo, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in this photo posted from the summer of 2021. Photo courtesy of ANTWERP ZOO /via Reuters

BRUSSELS – Zoo staff say two hippos have tested positive for COVID-19 at Belgium’s Antwerp Zoo, in what could be the first reported cases of the species.

The hippos Imani, 14, and Hermine, 41, showed no symptoms except for a runny nose, but the zoo said the couple had been placed in quarantine as a precaution.

“To my knowledge, this is the first time in this species. Worldwide, this virus has been reported mainly in great apes and cats,” said the zoo’s veterinarian, Francis Verkamine.

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