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A top official in Canada says most people have a better chance of dying from “other pathogens, accidents, and traffic fatalities” than from coronavirus.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney made the comments this week as he argued wholesale shutdowns of the economy are no longer necessary for coronavirus.
“For most Albertans, the risk of death from other pathogens, accidents and traffic fatalities is actually higher than it is for COVID,” Kenney said Wednesday, according to the Calgary Herald.
Kenney referred to coronavirus as “an influenza that does not generally threaten life” apart from at-risk populations.
“What we are learning is that younger people, while not completely immune, have a rate of mortality related to COVID that is no higher than their general mortality rate for other illnesses,” Kenney told the house Wednesday.
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“We cannot continue indefinitely to impair the social and economic as well as the mental health and physiological health of the broader population for potentially a year through measures [to combat] an influenza that does not generally threaten life apart from the most elderly, the immune-compromised and those with co-morbidities,” he continued, according to The Canadian Press.
Kenney said the key to combatting coronavirus instead will be ramped up testing, border screening and a focus on protecting high-risk groups.
“The average age of death from COVID in Alberta is 83, and I’ll remind the house the average life expectancy in the province is 82,” the Alberta lawmaker said. “In Canada, 95 percent of fatalities from Covid are from those over the age of 60, 80 percent are in care facilities and the risk of death from Covid for people under 60 is 0.0006 percent.”
Former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson, who has been critical of lockdown measures, praised Kenney for his remarks. “Kudos to Jason Kenney – premier of the Canadian province of Alberta – for being the first political leader to tell the truth about #SARSCoV2: ‘For most Albertans, the risk of death from other pathogens, accidents, and traffic fatalities is actually higher than it is for COVID.'” he said on Twitter.
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Still, Kenney pushed back on criticisms that the province overreacted and was too strict on lockdown measures.
He said Alberta has just over three deaths per 100,000 people, compared with 10 in Germany, 30 in the United States, 39 in Sweden, 40 in France, 54 in Italy, 55 in the United Kingdom, 57 in Spain, and 81 in Belgium.
There have been 243,000 tests conducted with 2.8 percent testing positive for COVID-19, according to Kenney. The province has recorded 243 deaths and 45 people are currently hospitalized with the virus.
“For some members of the public who say we should simply emulate [the more liberal lockdown measures of Sweden], they must be prepared to defend a death rate 12 times higher per capita than what we’ve experienced in Alberta,” Kenney said.
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Alberta has now begun to reopen its economy. Retailers, restaurants, salons, galleries and houses of worship have begun reopening with restrictions. Outdoor gatherings are allowed with no more than 50 people.