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Around Red Deer May 3rd…..

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1:54 pm – RCMP are investigating after a shot was fired at the Sunset Manor retirement home in Innisfail on Monday. Read More.

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1:49 pm – Good news to report regarding a missing teenage girl from Red Deer. RCMP say 16 year old Nadia Gursky has been located and Mounties are thanking the public for their help in finding her.

10:29 am – The north Red Deer RCMP detachment located at 6592 58 Avenue will close to the public on Monday, May 8 while renovations are made to the front counter customer service area. The renovations are expected to be completed by Friday, May 26. Residents can take any inquiries during this time to the Downtown Detachment.

10:22 am – Innisfail’s Handi-Van service will no longer operate outside of Town limits. Read More.

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10:14 am – The street sweepers are out in Sylvan Lake today as well! Read Where.

10:10 am – Sylvan Lake’s mandatory Water Conservation Policy is now in effect. Read More.

10:03 am – Residential street sweeping begins in Lacombe today:

– 54 Ave, from 5 way to 58 St
– 53 St, from 55 Ave to 51 Ave
– 50 St, from 54 Ave to 51 Ave

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9:50 am – It’s day two of street sweeping in Penhold. The following streets are due for a sweep today:

• Douglas Close
• Johnson Close
• Jarvis Close
• Esther Close
• Laura Close
• Bouteiller Close

Please obey the no parking signs.

9:37 am – Congratulations to Isabel Bolhuis from St. Patrick’s Community School who received the Excellence in Catholic Education Award this past weekend during the S.P.I.C.E. conference!

9:28 am – Mounties are reminding Alberta Motorists that May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. They have some tips for you to keep yourself and others safe while enjoying the ride. Read More.

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9:17 am – RCMP in Rocky Mountain House are investigating two serious collisions on Monday, May 1st. One of them resulted in the death of an 84 year old male pedestrian. Read More.

9:10 am – Alberta RCMP have released a Documentary that tells their story and recognizes their efforts during the Fort McMurray Wildfires last year. Read More. Watch Boots On The Ground – Nature Of The Beast

8:46 am – In support of Mental Health Awareness Week, the Alberta Teachers’ Association and the Canadian Mental Health Association have asked schools to relax their hat rules to encourage students to show support for mental health awareness by wearing a hat to school on Wednesday, May 3. Many schools in both the Red Deer Catholic Regional School District and Red Deer Public School District are participating.

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Canada agrees to take part in WTO talks to waive patent protections on vaccines

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WASHINGTON — Canada’s international trade minister says the federal government will take part in talks to waive the global rules that protect vaccine trade secrets.

Mary Ng made the announcement today in the House of Commons. 

The move puts Canada squarely onside with the United States, which surprised and delighted progressive anti-poverty groups Wednesday when it agreed to the negotiations. 

In theory, a waiver would make it easier for developing countries to import the expertise, equipment and ingredients necessary to make their own vaccines. 

The pharmaceutical industry says a waiver won’t have the desired effect and would undermine the development of innovative drugs. 

Other medical experts say a waiver would take too long, and the developed world should focus instead on ramping up existing production. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 6, 2021. 

The Canadian Press

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Canada may find it challenging to reach herd immunity from COVID-19, experts say

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Herd immunity may not be reached in Canada but a return to life similar to that before COVID-19 is possible through immunization, experts say.

Such immunity is achieved when enough people are immune to a virus, either through vaccinations or natural infections or a combination of both.

Prof. Paul Tupper of Simon Fraser University’s mathematics department said herd immunity is unlikely to happen with COVID-19 for a few reasons.

The virus is being transmitted worldwide, which means it is reintroduced in different places across borders and immunity through vaccination and infection doesn’t last permanently. The vaccines don’t seem to be completely effective against some of the new variants, he said.

“So, I think what is more likely to happen is that we end up in a situation like we have with seasonal flu,” Tupper said.

“We have to live with the flu, and I think something similar is going to happen with COVID.”

The level of immunity among the population also changes with the variants, especially the more transmissible strains, he said.

Sarah Otto, a University of British Columbia professor, said the disease’s reproductive rate is hard to pinpoint, which makes it difficult to establish a herd immunity target. Otto is an expert on the mathematical models of pandemic growth and control in the university’s zoology department.

The reproductive rate is the number of additional people infected by a single person with COVID-19, which has also changed because of the variants, she said.

Canada might also fall short of herd immunity because people can still get infected after vaccination, even if they are less likely to develop symptoms, she said.

“We don’t yet know how effective vaccines are at reducing transmission from person to person and that matters a lot,” Otto said.

Vaccinated people are getting fewer infections but those who do can still suffer severe symptoms, she said

“Before the pandemic, we didn’t have working vaccines for coronaviruses, so we don’t know exactly what the outcomes are going to be. It’s very unusual to have a disease with such wildly differing outcomes, with asymptomatic individuals and severely affected long haulers. How are vaccines going to change that mix? We don’t really know why the severe cases are so severe.”

Tupper said public health guidelines will change as more people get vaccinated.

“But the goal of eradicating COVID just does not appear to be realistic.”

Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Toronto, said vaccines can significantly reduce transmission rates, regardless of whether Canada reaches herd immunity.

“Some communities might have no transmission while other communities, even within the same province, might have some low levels of transmission and it’s all based on vaccine status,” he said.

“But regardless, we will achieve very, very low rates of transmission in our communities because of vaccination.”

Community level immunity is when a virus is not completely eliminated, he said.

“There may be some transmission of COVID-19 but sporadically with small outbreaks or with low levels of transmission, while most people are largely unaffected due to widespread vaccination.”

It had been suggested that herd immunity could be reached when about 70 per cent of the population is vaccinated, but now researchers don’t know what level of protection is required because of the variants.

Otto said there are more questions than answers at this point.

“With every partial answer we get two or three more questions. These are hard and tricky issues and I wish we were less uncertain, but that is the truth of the matter.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 6, 2021.

Hina Alam, The Canadian Press

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