Superspreader wedding in Calgary, surging COVID infection numbers spur calls for tighter rules

·2 min read

In the aftermath of a wedding that became a COVID-19 superspreading event, some experts are calling for officials in Alberta to enact tighter restrictions on social gatherings.

At least 49 active cases of COVID-19 have been linked to a wedding with 63 attendees held earlier this month in Calgary.

Aggressive contact tracing is underway to identify anyone who may have been exposed and ensure they are isolating and getting tested. Anyone at risk is being contacted directly by Alberta Health Services.

And on Tuesday, Alberta reported 323 new cases of COVID-19 and one more death, again breaking the record for the number of active cases and prompting Dr. Deena Hinshaw to say Alberta is in a "danger zone."

It's all a recipe for concern, says Dr. Joe Vipond, an ER physician in Calgary and a co-founder of the Masks4Canada advocacy group.

CBC
CBC

"This can explode if we let our guard down," he said.

"We just seem to be failing to learn from other places when they were at this level of the curve, and with exponential growth, things are going to get worse unless we put new measures in place."

The measures Vipond would like to see include limiting indoor gatherings to five people, and mandatory masking across the province.

Dr. Leyla Asadi, an infectious diseases physician at the University of Alberta, is also worried.

"The numbers are very concerning to me and highly suggestive of us having entered into the second wave, or the fall wave of COVID-19 infections," she said.

"If we allow the virus to continue spreading, there will be more of these events."

Asadi says Alberta should emulate parts of Ontario's Modified Stage 2 restrictions, under which all social gatherings and public events are limited to a maximum of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.

Alberta's current rules state that 100 people are allowed at indoor events where people are seated, like wedding ceremonies, and 50 people are allowed for indoor social gatherings such as wedding receptions and birthday parties.

But Asadi says Alberta likely won't need to resort to a widespread lockdown because experts know more about the virus than they did in the spring.

"So we know with this virus, there tends to be superspreading events. So if we can focus on areas where we think transmission is most likely, we can have targeted intervention that can hopefully allow us to gain control of the spread again," she said.