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7 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health as warning issued for Halloween – Ashcroft Cache Creek Journal

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There are seven new cases of COVID-19 being reported in the Interior Health region overnight, bringing the total in the health authority since the start of the pandemic to 741.

There are currently 87 active cases that are in isolation.

No one is in hospital.

Interior Health is reporting no additional exposures in schools.

Across the province there are an additional 272 cases of COVID-19, with one death and three new outbreaks in the health care system.

There has been a community outbreak declared at Suncor’s Firebag oil sands project, 120 km northeast of Fort McMurray, Alberta, the second time an Alberta oil industry facility has dealt with coronavirus as workers travel in and out to B.C. and other locations.

Dr. Albert De Villiers, chief medical health officer for Interior Health said the health authority has seen an increase in cases as the province moves through the second wave of COVID-19.

“This rise in cases is reflected across B.C. and it is important we all do our part to reduce the risk of further exposures in our communities,” he stated. “The Provincial Health Officer has issued a new order on household visitors, which means households cannot have more than six people of any age visit at one time. The order applies to all gatherings – indoor and outdoor – hosted at households, such as a Halloween or large dinner party, celebration of life, wedding or baby shower.”

De Villiers went on to say while the restrictions pose challenges, everyone is being asked to celebrate Halloween in an alternative way.

READ MORE: Ho, ho, no: Experts advise preparing for a scaled-back COVID holiday season

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What you need to know about COVID-19 in B.C. for Nov. 27 – CBC.ca

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THE LATEST:

  • Health officials will provide their daily update in a live briefing at 3 p.m. PT.
  • 887 new cases of COVID-19 were announced on Thursday, along with 13 more deaths.
  • There have been 29,973 confirmed cases in the province to date.
  • There are 7,899 people with active cases of the disease across B.C.
  • 294 patients are in hospital with COVID-19, including 64 in intensive care.
  • 384 people have now died of the disease.

B.C.’s second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is showing no signs of slowing, with another 887 new cases confirmed on Thursday and 13 more deaths.

That brings the number of active cases in the province to 7,899. A total of 294 patients are in hospital with COVID-19, including 64 in intensive care.

The Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions continue to drive this phase of the pandemic, accounting for 88 per cent of the new cases announced Thursday.

In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix urged everyone to stick with public health measures meant to stem the spread of the disease.

“Slow and steady is what we need with COVID-19 and it is how we will get through this second wave. The efforts we make each day make a difference,” they said.

Henry and Dix are scheduled to give an update on the pandemic response in a live briefing at 3 p.m. PT.

It comes a little more than a week after strict new restrictions and rules were put in place in B.C., including wide-ranging mask orders for indoor public and retail environments.

Health officials have told British Columbians to pause all social interactions and be vigilant applying different layers of protection, including physical distancing, washing hands and using masks.

READ MORE:

What’s happening elsewhere in Canada

There have now been more than 353,097 cases of COVID-19 in Canada.

On Thursday, federal officials sought to reassure Canadians that they have a plan to procure and distribute millions of COVID-19 vaccines in early 2021. Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said as many as six million doses could be deployed in the first three months of the new year.

Canada is expected to receive at least 194 million vaccine doses, with contractual options for 220 million more. 

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever.
  • Cough.
  • Tiredness.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Loss of taste or smell.
  • Headache.

But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia.

What should I do if I feel sick?

Use the B.C. Centre for Disease Control’s COVID-19 self-assessment tool. Testing is recommended for anyone with symptoms of cold or flu, even if they’re mild. People with severe difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, difficulty waking up or o​​​​​​ther extreme symptoms should call 911.

What can I do to protect myself?

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Keep them clean.
  • Keep your distance from people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Wear a mask in indoor public spaces.
  • Be aware of evolving travel advisories to different regions.

More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government’s website.

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Province offers grant to Halifax-area businesses ordered closed under new COVID rules – Preeceville Progress

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Halifax-area businesses ordered closed in an effort to curb the city’s rising number of COVID-19 cases are getting another round of financial support from the province.

Business Minister Geoff MacLellan said Thursday that the province would offer a one-time grant of up to $5,000 to small, independently owned bars, dine-in restaurants and fitness and leisure centres.

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The businesses are among those that are now closed for at least the next two weeks under health measures that took effect Thursday.

MacLellan said it’s the third round for a grant which is part of a larger $50-million relief fund for business.

“Those who received this in the past will be fast-tracked,” he told reporters following a cabinet meeting. “If there are any that didn’t apply . . . they still will be eligible.”

Businesses can use the grant money for any operational expenses, such as wages and supplies. To be eligible, businesses must have been operating since March 15. There is no cap on annual revenues.

“It’s not going to solve everyone’s problem. We always wish we could do more,” MacLellan said.

Under the new restrictions, retail stores can remain open, but they have to limit the number of shoppers and staff to 25 per cent or less of their legal capacity.

MacLellan said while retailers aren’t part of the targeted relief package, his department will monitor the impact on their business over what is hoped will be only a two-week period before the measures can be lifted.

The province reported 14 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, including 12 in the Halifax area, one in the northern health zone and one in the western zone.

It said 856 tests were administered at the rapid-testing site in downtown Halifax on Wednesday, and there were five positive results. The individuals were directed to self-isolate and have been referred for a standard test.

“We’ve seen a great uptake for asymptomatic testing among Halifax bar staff and patrons,” Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health said in a news release.

“People are showing us how much they care about their communities by going to these pop-up rapid-testing locations. This has allowed us to detect a few cases among asymptomatic people early on and helps to stop the spread of the virus.”

Since Oct. 1, Nova Scotia has reported 167 COVID-19 cases, and it has had 1,257 cases and 65 deaths since the pandemic began.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2020.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said companies had to have between $25,000 and $300,000 in annual sales to be eligible.

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Winter is already a trying time for some seniors. COVID-19 will make it worse – CBC.ca

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Georgiana Del Casino has spent most of the past eight months alone inside her one-bedroom apartment in New Westminster, B.C., but the 82-year-old feels even more isolated now because a COVID-19 outbreak in her complex means she can’t even visit with people down the hallway. 

“It’s depressing,” she said.

“I have one friend, and he is 94 years old. He doesn’t want to come here now and he doesn’t want to be in contact with me, so that is really difficult.”

Even before COVID-19 forced people to spend more time apart from family and friends, social isolation was a major problem among seniors.

WATCH: Georgiana Del Casino describes how COVID-19 and restrictions have made her feel more isolated:

Georgiana Del Casino, 82, describes how COVID-19 and restrictions have made her feel more isolated. 0:56

2014 report by the National Seniors Council concluded that 50 per cent of people over the age of 80 felt lonely. 

With the pandemic grinding on, researchers say those feelings have been heightened, which is why advocates and social service agencies are trying to find additional ways to connect with those who feel cut off. 

A sign saying “No Visitors Allowed” is pictured on the door of the Dunwood complex in New Westminster, B.C. A case of COVID-19 was detected in the seniors’ housing, and Del Casino says residents were instructed not to gather with their neighbours in common rooms or the hallway. (Briar Stewart/CBC)

Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard, chair of the National Seniors Council and director of the Research Centre on Aging at the University of Moncton, said winter is already a stressful time as outings are limited. 

This year, the cold weather will arrive after many have already spent months isolating. 

As part of her research through the university, Dupuis-Blanchard has been surveying seniors who live in the community and says many feel they’ve been forgotten. 

Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard, who is with the University of Moncton and the National Seniors Council, said it is hard to measure how many seniors are suffering from isolation and what kind impact it is having on their mental health, as many are hesitant to share how they are feeling. (University of Moncton)

Health effects of isolation

“A lot of attention has been put on seniors in long-term care, with reason, but there are also these groups of seniors in the community who are dependent on formal and informal care for which the pandemic has had quite an impact as well,” she said. 

She said seniors who are living alone and socially disconnected are particularly vulnerable to having their mental and physical health decline. 

They are less likely to be physically active and more likely to have a poor diet, which Dupuis-Blanchard said can lead to cardiovascular problems or a higher risk of falling. 

Del Casino used to enjoy daily outings, including swimming. 

Now if the weather and her arthritis aren’t too bad, she will go for a walk around the neighbourhood. She spends the rest of her time knitting and watching more television than she ever has before.

With her family living on Vancouver Island, Del Casino signed up to receive a daily telephone call from the Seniors Services Society of B.C. and the occasional grocery delivery.

She said the conversations are a bright spot in her morning, but aren’t the same as meeting up with someone in person. 

Experts say winter is typically a very stressful time for seniors because poor weather means there are fewer outings. This year, seniors also have to contend with a rising number of COVID-19 cases. (Charles Contant/Radio-Canada)

Volunteer drive 

At the beginning of the pandemic, social service agencies across Canada put out a plea for volunteers to help people who were isolating by delivering food and prescription drugs, or by checking in with a phone call or a video chat. 

As the first wave began, B.C. launched the Safe Seniors, Strong Communities program that is being run through the United Way and its network of community agencies. 

More than 15,000 seniors were referred to the program between March and the end of September. 

“We know that there are a fair number of hidden seniors who are extremely isolated and vulnerable,” said Kahir Lalji, provincial director of healthy aging for the United Way. 

He said some of the “ultra-isolated” have been identified through contact with paramedics, police officers and religious organizations.

Kahir Lalji, provincial director of the United Way’s healthy aging program, says the most requests the agency received from seniors throughout the pandemic was for grocery and meal delivery, as well as phone calls and virtual check-ins. (United Way)

Nearly 2000 new volunteers have been deployed through the B.C. program so far, and Lalji said in the first six months they delivered twice as many services to seniors as they normally do in a year.

The average age of the new volunteers is 36, which is significant: traditionally more than half of those helping out with the United Way’s senior program are seniors themselves. 

Seniors disconnected

In a church basement in Chilliwack, B.C., Kelly Velonis packs food hampers for low income seniors. She is executive director of the Chilliwack and District Seniors’ Resources Society.

Before the pandemic, about 85 per cent of its volunteers were seniors, but most of them have now stepped aside.

“They were unable to volunteer due to their own health and they aren’t really feeling safe,” said Velonis. 

Not only does it mean the society is now short a driver to drop off food hampers, it also means seniors who volunteered as a way to spend time with others are now more isolated, she said. 

Kelly Velonis with the Chilliwack and District Seniors’ Resource Society said the organization just received a grant so they can now deliver food hampers to low-income seniors every week, instead of twice a month. (Briar Stewart/CBC)

Nearly all of the other programs that were offered at the seniors centre, like Zumba and chair yoga, have been shut down.

Even a class to teach seniors how to use Skype and Zoom had to be cancelled because of the rising number of COVID-19 cases and provincial restrictions. 

They are trying to provide that tech help now over the phone, and put programming online for seniors who are already comfortable using the internet. 

“A lot of our seniors are widowed and a lot of them live alone,” said Velonis.

Staff and volunteers are also reaching out by phone and email just to check in to see how people are doing. 

“We have to try to connect in different ways, making sure that people [who] are alone don’t feel alone.”

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