The COVID-19 outbreak that started at the end of March at Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre infected more than two dozen people and two people died as a result, public health officials admitted Tuesday.
This was revealed in an epidemiology report which was completed in July but made public last week — nearly five months after the outbreak.
According to the report, 16 staff members, five patients and four close contacts of cases were linked to this outbreak.
Before Tuesday, public health officials never said two of the deaths were linked to the outbreak at Health Sciences Centre (HSC). Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said that’s not the job of public health.
“The reporting … is quite separate from public health work,” he said.
Manitoba’s health minister admitted at a press conference on Tuesday there’s some work to do in the public health system, but by and large, the government’s record is solid.
“We believe that we’re doing well and we believe there’s always room for improvement,” Cameron Friesen said.
“I think that the record of our government on COVID-19 has been remarkable in terms of the commitment that we made to Manitobans to put good information in their hands to build structures that would give Manitobans that good information.”
Neither Friesen nor Roussin could identify which of the 16 people who’ve died in the province are related to the HSC outbreak. They wouldn’t say if the two people were patients, health-care workers or close contacts.
Friesen added that the government is working to provide rapid information about the virus, including more geographically-specific information about cases in Winnipeg.
“We’ve got a system in Manitoba right now where we’re reporting on 80 districts … to give people instant information on where those cases are taking place,” he said.
This new information means seven people who died of COVID-19 in this Manitoba were infected by outbreaks in the health care system.
This newly released report also revealed one other Winnipeg death this spring was related to an outbreak at a business, where 24 workers or close contacts in total were infected.
Roussin said there was no need to name the business at the time because the public was never at risk.
Friesen said he stands by Roussin’s decision not to disclose.
“We accept the advice of public health officials, and so our chief has been clear in Manitoba that when there is a value in actually declaring what the name of a business is or more information, that has been done when we felt that there was a public health interest,” he said.
Another workplace-related outbreak in the Prairie Mountain Health region was also mentioned in the report, which led to six employees and four close contacts testing positive.
25 per cent of cases among people in 20s
Among the conclusions in the epidemiology report is that the primary method of transmission has shifted from travel to contact with a known case of COVID-19, as well as unknown transmission.
It also notes that nearly 25 per cent of cases are among people in their 20s.
“This is an important observation that merits further investigation moving forward, as this group could be a significant contributor to increased spread of COVID-19,” the report says.
Of that group, nearly two-thirds are women.
That may be a reflection of the high number of female health-care workers who contracted the virus, it says.
Third death reported in Foothills outbreak; provincial nurses union says morale low – Calgary Herald
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With so many staff members isolating, the hospital is using overtime and reassignment to cover shifts. AHS has multiple staff swabbing sites at the hospital to increase testing capacity for staff on outbreak units. They are screened twice a day.
Staff are also encouraged to take their breaks outside and adhere to physical distancing.
Harrigan said morale continues to drop and, he feels, AHS has made the situation worse.
“People have to work additional overtime and people are being asked to pick up additional shifts. We’ve heard from a number of our members that are phoning to say look, I’ve worked eight to nine consecutive days, this is starting to become too much,” he said.
He doesn’t know if anything will change if the outbreak at Foothills continues to get worse.
AHS said Wednesday the origin of the outbreaks remains unknown.
“Multiple teams are working daily to determine where the infection may have started, how it was transmitted and who needs to be contacted and tested to limit exposure,” AHS said. “This is standard procedure in our contact tracing that we implement with any outbreak.”
Hospitalizations surge in Alberta; 143 new cases
The number of Albertans hospitalized with COVID-19 increased to 59 on Wednesday, up from 51 Tuesday. Included in those hospitalizations are 13 patients in intensive-care units, up from nine.
Alberta reported 143 new cases in Wednesday’s update, bringing the total number of active cases to 1,520. The newly detected cases are from 12,317 tests completed on Tuesday, about a 1.2 per cent positive rate.
The Edmonton zone still has the highest number of active cases with 821, followed by the Calgary zone with 481.
42 new coronavirus cases in Manitoba Wednesday, mostly in Winnipeg – Global News
A total of 42 new coronavirus cases have been identified in Manitoba as of Wednesday morning, bringing the province’s total to 1,674.
Public health officials said 30 of the new cases are in the Winnipeg area, with six more in the Southern Health region, three in Prairie Mountain, two in Interlake-Eastern, and one case in the Northern Health region.
There are currently 418 active COVID-19 cases in Manitoba, with 11 people hospitalized and five in intensive care.
There is confusion over the number of COVID-19-related deaths in Manitoba thus far. A news release from the province said there have been 18, but according to the provincial data site, there have been 19.
After Global News inquired about the discrepancy, the site was updated to say there have been 18 deaths.
Global News reported a 19th death Tuesday at Parkview Place Long Term Care Home in Winnipeg.
However, the death has yet to be officially confirmed by provincial health officials, resulting in the discrepancy.
“There was a data error on the dashboard and it will be updated to reflect the bulletin,” said a spokesperson for Shared Health.
“Public Health announces COVID-19 related deaths when investigations are complete. We would not comment until that time and an official announcement is made.”
Revera, the company that runs the home, announced the death in a media statement Tuesday afternoon.
“We regret to confirm that a resident previously tested and confirmed as COVID-19 positive at Parkview Place Long Term Care Home has passed away,” Revera’s chief medical officer, Dr. Rhonda Collins, Chief Medical Officer, said in the statement.
Health officials are strongly encouraging Manitobans — especially Winnipeggers — to stay home if sick and follow precautions like hand-washing and wearing a mask to prevent any further spread of the virus.
COVID-19: North Dakota vs. Manitoba
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
'It can be COVID-19 when it's just sniffles': Ottawa's top doctor – CTV Edmonton
Ottawa’s top doctor is defending the Ottawa Public Health isolation warning for anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19, saying “we have seen it can be COVID-19 when it’s just sniffles.”
And Ottawa Public Health is requesting a scientific review of the COVID-19 symptoms to clarify who should and should not be isolating during the pandemic.
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches faced questions at Council one day after invoking a Class Section 22 Order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act. It states that people must self-isolate for 14 days if they:
- Test positive for COVID-19
- Has signs or symptoms of COVID-19
- Are in close contact with someone who has tested positive for novel coronavirus
- Are waiting for the results of COVID-19 test
- Have reasonable grounds to think they have COVID-19
Failure to comply with this order could result in a fine of up to $5,000 for every day or part of each day on which the offence occurs or continues.
Dr. Etches told Council that she understands people want clarity on what the order means, adding it was issued with goal of keeping schools and businesses open during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I do want to go back to the goal here; which is we want to keep schools open, we want to make sure people can go to work. And right now we’re in a time where the number of infections in our community is high, so high that it’s effecting schools,” said Dr. Etches.
“We want to turn that around.”
Ottawa Public Health has requested a scientific review of the COVID-19 symptoms.
“The goal is: when people have symptoms or respiratory illness, we need to make sure it’s not COVID. I do understand that people have questions, ‘what if it’s sniffles, it’s just sniffles.’ We’re asking for a scientific review of the symptoms,” said Dr. Etches Wednesday morning.
“Right now, we have seen it can be COVID when it’s just sniffles.”
The Renfrew County and District Health Unit has said a staff member at Fellowes High School in Pembroke that tested positive for COVID-19 thought the symptoms were seasonal allergies. The school has been closed due to a COVID-19 outbreak since last Wednesday.
“When COVID enters the house with someone with symptoms, it’s very hard not to pass that on with someone in the house,” said Dr. Etches.
“So that’s the root of why we ask a family to stay home when someone has symptoms, because it could be COVID and it could spread in the house and then pass on.”
Ottawa Public Health lists the COVID-19 symptoms as:
Classic symptoms: Feeling feverish, new or worsening cough and/or difficulty breathing
Other symptoms: Sore throat, difficulty swallowing, new olfactory (smell) or taste disorder, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, pneumonia, runny nose, or nasal congestion
Third death reported in Foothills outbreak; provincial nurses union says morale low – Calgary Herald
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