Delta Variant COVID-19 Cases Rising Prompting Caution on Reopening Plans

“The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” — the Calgary Stampede — will open on July 9, with a few changes given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic including a rising number of delta variant COVID-19 cases.

“I’m hoping people see that we’re doing things responsibly but it’s still going to be a lot of fun,” Steve McDonough, president and chairman of the Stampede board, told Global News.

The parade won’t be downtown this year, and the event will reflect all current public health guidance, he said, but the Stampede will go ahead.

Other provinces are cautiously reopening too, allowing outdoor dining, some shopping and other limited gatherings. But experts wonder if the more transmissible Delta variant of COVID-19 might jeopardize some of those big reopening plans, as cases appear to be growing across Canada.

Evidence from the U.K. suggests that the Delta variant spreads much more easily than other variants that have appeared in Canada so far. It currently represents around 91 percent of new cases in the U.K., said the country’s secretary of state for health and social care Matt Hancock on Thursday.

The provinces of Alberta, B.C., Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario confirmed that they are testing cases for the Delta variant. There have been 501 cases of Delta variant in B.C. as of June 3. Alberta had 208 cases as of June 8. Ontario predicts that the Delta variant will soon be the main variant in the province.

Ontario announced on Thursday that it will accelerate second-dose vaccine appointments for Delta variant “hotspot” areas, to protect groups most at risk of infection.

Craig Jenne, an associate professor in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the University of Calgary, says one dose of the vaccine does not protect against the Delta variant as well as two doses.

Given the data, Ontario’s strategy of prioritizing hotspots for second doses might be a good one, Jenne said. “Now it’s time to double down on our effort to contain and limit the spread of Delta and the best way to do that is to get people in Delta hotspots fully vaccinated.”

Still, big events, even outdoors, might not be a great idea, he added.

“I think I’d be quite cautious about Stampede.”

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This content is also available in: Tiếng Việt