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Alberta doctors propose a 'circuit breaker' to tackle COVID surge, but no mandatory restrictions planned yet – The Post – Ontario



In Alberta, where the government has been hesitant to introduce wide-ranging lockdowns, several dozen physicians wrote to Premier Kenney, seeking a temporary shutdown

EDMONTON — As countries around the world wrestle with a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of them are trying short, sharp lockdowns — a “circuit breaker” that shuts the country down for a couple weeks to curb the spread and then starts things back up again.

The idea, which has caught on in Wales, Germany and Poland, has arrived in Canada, too, with Manitoba and British Columbia both entering restricted periods to try and curb cases.

In Alberta, too, where the government has been hesitant to introduce wide-ranging lockdowns because of the economic consequences, several dozen physicians wrote to Premier Jason Kenney, seeking a temporary shutdown to bring case counts under control.

Noel Gibney, an emeritus professor at the University of Alberta’s faculty of medicine, said the impetus to write the letter came from the daily case numbers, increasing ICU admissions, and a Friday press conference where Premier Jason Kenney urged people to continue following guidelines that are in place.

The reality, Gibney said, is that as we enter winter and people congregate indoors, we are, quite simply, in a different scenario than spring, and that means considering new ways of tackling the pandemic, such as a short-term lockdown to get case counts under control.

“If people follow this, and it works, we will be able to lessen the degree of restriction in the future,” Gibney explained.

Gibney said the open letter doesn’t specify what specific actions actions the government should take — for example, whether bars, schools or churches should close — that’s a job, he said, best left to public health officials. But the letter details the risks to the health-care system posed by rising case counts. “When these resources are overwhelmed, mortality rates from COVID-19 and other potentially treatable conditions increase dramatically.”

“We have lots of beds in the system that we can put online, we have ventilators … we don’t have any staff, you cannot duplicate our staff, our staff are exhausted,” said Gibney.


The Alberta government is considering further, unspecified, restrictions. As yet, few mandatory restrictions have been put in place across the province beyond capping private gatherings to 15 people.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the chief medical officer of health, said at her Monday briefing that the circuit breaker proposal is an “interesting idea,” but that the government is giving Albertans the chance to follow the rules and bend the curve before more stringent measures are put in place.

“We know there is no one perfect way … we need to look at all options on the table,” Hinshaw said.

As of Monday’s update, there were just shy of 8,000 active COVID-19 cases in the province, with 192 people in hospital and 39 in intensive care. There have been 369 deaths.

Asked recently about why the government hasn’t imposed lockdowns, Kenney said it would be a “massive invasion of people’s fundamental rights, a massive impact on not only their personal liberties but their ability to put food on the table.”

For several weeks, Alberta has been climbing towards new daily records of COVID-19 cases. Consistently, when pressed on future restrictions, Kenney and others have pointed to the devastation it could bring to people’s incomes.

“Look, we have tens of thousands of small businesses who are barely hanging on. Behind every one is someone’s life savings, a family whose entire future is at risk,” Kenney said on Oct. 20. “I really fear what the economic, social, mental and emotional health impacts of (repeated lockdowns) will be.”

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Winnipeggers in 30s, 40s among new COVID-19 deaths in Manitoba –



A Winnipeg man in his 30s and a Winnipeg woman in her 40s are among 11 new COVID-19 deaths in Manitoba, health officials say.

Manitoba hit a new record high for COVID-19 hospitalizations with 342 people in hospital on Monday, as the province added 343 new cases to its total. There are 43 positive patients in intensive care units, down one from Sunday.

Seven of the deaths are connected to outbreaks at long-term care homes, including a man and a woman in their 80s at Fairview Personal Care Home.

The deaths also include a woman in her 70s linked to the outbreak in the GA3 unit at Health Sciences Centre, a man in his 80s linked to the Villa Youville personal care home, a man in his 80s linked to the Charleswood Care Centre, a man in his 80s linked to Golden Links Lodge, a woman in her 90s linked to St. Norbert Personal Care Home, a man in his 90s linked to the Bridgepark Manor assisted living facility, and a Winnipeg woman in her 90s.

Manitoba’s test-positivity rate is 13.4 per cent, a slight increase of 0.1 percentage points from Sunday but still lower than at any other point last week.

Outbreaks at the Women’s Correctional Centre in Headingley and the Keeyask Generating Station near Thompson have been declared over. 

New outbreaks have been declared at the Lakeshore General Hospital in Ashern and West Park Manor Personal Care Home in Winnipeg.

The Winnipeg health region produced the majority of new cases, with 207 confirmed infections, while the Southern Health region had the second most, with 53. The rest of the cases were in the Northern Health region (46), Interlake-Eastern health region (23) and Prairie Mountain Health region (14).

Manitoba has now had 16,825 confirmed coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, with 9,260 reported as still active, although that number is likely inflated due to a backlog in clearing recovered cases.

A boy under 10 is the youngest person to die of COVID-19 in Manitoba, health officials announced on Saturday.

Two Manitoba churches, Church of God and Springs Church, held drive-in services on the weekend, in violation of public health orders capping gatherings at five people and ordering religious services to move online.

Winnipeg School Division teachers will walk thousands of students through an in-class exercise on Tuesday that’s meant to simulate what it could be like if the entire school system is suddenly forced to learn remotely.

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57 cases of COVID-19, one death reported in Niagara after the weekend –



The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Niagara increased by 57 over the weekend, counting Monday’s numbers, but without making a significant impact on the number of active cases across the region, which right now sits at 204.

The daily breakdown:

Saturday: 18

Sunday: 25

Monday: 14

The region said Monday’s number is not complete, as the reporting had left some cases out, and cautions that Tuesday’s numbers therefore might look higher.

NRPH also reports one new COVID-19-related death on Monday, bringing the region’ss death toll to 84.

One outbreak in a health-care facility was also declared over.

There are 7 active outbreaks in long-term care facilities and 11 other outbreaks.

Ontario update:

Public Health Ontario has confirmed 1,746 new cases of COVID-19 today, which is 38 fewer than yesterday. There were more than 1,700 cases reported on both Saturday and Sunday.

Of today’s new cases, most are confined to the Greater Toronto Area. There are 390 new cases confirmed in Peel Region, 622 cases in Toronto and 217 in York Region; that represents 1,229 — or 70 per cent — of the new lab-confirmed cases reported over the past 24 hours.

The agency also reported eight more deaths related to the coronavirus over the past 24 hours. Yesterday, 24 deaths were reported.

More than 1,320 cases have been resolved since yesterday. 

Over the past 24 hours, 39,406 tests were completed, which is about 14,600 fewer than the record number of tests processed Friday.

According to today’s data, the positivity rate is 4.4 per cent; that means 4.4 people out of every 100 people tested have the coronavirus.

Since the start of the pandemic, public health labs in Ontario have processed more than 6.2 million COVID-19 tests.

Throughout Ontario, there are 618 people currently hospitalized with the coronavirus, but the agency notes that a number of hospitals (approximately 40) did not submit data for Nov. 28.

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Ontario logs more than 1700 new cases of COVID-19 as positivity rate inches higher – CTV Toronto



Ontario is reporting more than 1,700 new COVID-19 infections Monday morning as the province’s positivity rate inches closer to five per cent.

Health officials added 1,746 cases, which is up slightly from the 1,708 infections added a day earlier.

With 39,406 tests completed in the last 24 hours the province’s COVID-19 positivity rate stands at 4.6 per cent, the highest it’s been since last Wednesday. The number of tests processed is down considerably from the province’s daily testing goal of 50,000 which it exceeded for three straight days prior. 

Monday’s report brings the total number of COVID-19 infections in Ontario to 116,492, including deaths and recoveries.

Eight more deaths were recorded in the previous day pushing the province’s COVID-19 death toll to 3,656.

As well, 1,320 cases are now considered to be resolved by the ministry of health. At least 98,639 people who contracted COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic have since recovered.

Most of the cases added Monday were found in people between the ages of 20 and 39. Those 645 lab-confirmed infections push the case total for that age group to 42,460, the most in the province.

Another 526 cases were reported in people between the ages of 40 and 59 while 234 cases were logged in people 19 years of age and younger.

At least 233 cases were documented in people between the ages of 60 and 79 and 106 cases were found in those 80 years of age and older.  

Toronto reports record number of cases, Windsor-Essex moves to ‘red zone’

A record 622 cases were reported in Toronto , one of two areas currently observing the lockdown measures of the province’s COVID-19 framework.

Peel Region is also under lockdown and reported 390 new cases.

York and Durham regions both reported new case numbers in the triple digits and are currently in the province’s “red zone,” which places a cap on indoor gatherings and non-essential activities.

The City of Hamilton, Halton and Waterloo are also observing the same restrictions and all reported new case numbers in the double digits.

Windsor-Essex reporter 38 new cases and moved into the “red zone” earlier this morning.

There are currently 618 patients in Ontario hospitals with COVID-19. Of those, 168 are being treated in an intensive care unit and 108 are on a ventilator.

Some 39,000 COVID-19 tests remain under investigation.

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