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Alberta launches new contact tracing app to fight COVID-19 pandemic – CityNews Calgary



EDMONTON (660 NEWS) — A new mobile application has been released by the Alberta government to help slow transmission and reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The new program named ABTraceTogether is a voluntary program that uses Bluetooth to log interactions as an “encrypted digital handshake.”

“This happens when two phones, which each have the app, get within two metres of one another for an overall total of 15 minutes within a 24-hour period of time,” Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Friday.

Those who acquire the app and later test positive for the virus are asked to voluntarily upload encrypted data to Alberta Health Services (AHS) contact tracers.

This allows AHS tracers to use that information to track down people who had close contact with the infected person.

“The faster Alberta Health Services contact tracers can inform expose people or closed contacts, the quicker we will be able to prevent potential outbreaks and identify when Albertans must self-isolate,” Hinshaw added.

“These tactics yield valuable data that can help us get a better understanding of how the disease spreads and what underlying factors can contribute to cases of severe disease.”

Since Alberta reported its first COVID-19 case in March, Hinshaw says they have learned a lot about the virus.

Older people with the illness remain at high risk of severe symptoms, however, the average age of cases in the province is 41.5 years.

Investigations also uncovered the conditions that tend to be present in cases with severe disease. Hinshaw said they looked at whether cases had been previously diagnosed with cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, respiratory disease, and immune deficiency.

They also looked at cases reported to have obesity or a history of smoking.

“From the data so far, we’ve found that people between the ages of 30 and 64 are more likely to have a severe outcome, needing hospital or ICU treatment, or in the worst outcome, leading to death, if they had at least one of these health conditions.”

Among this age group, investigators found two-thirds of hospitalized cases, and almost three-quarters of people who died of the virus had at least one of those conditions.

More details have emerged about the most common symptoms of COVID-19, which include:

  • Cough being found in 62 per cent of all cases
  • Sore throat in 33 per cent
  • Fever 28 per cent

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Ontario confirms 57 new COVID cases today, removes 24 old cases – OrilliaMatters



Public Health Ontario reported 57 new COVID cases today, and has also removed 24 previously-reported cases from the cumulative case count.

According to a Tweet by Ontario’s health minister, Christine Elliott, a “routine data cleanup” revealed some cases had been double reported and that resulted in Toronto Public Health reporting a negative case report of -21 cases today. Three more health units reported -1 case. 

Although there were 57 more positive results reported by the province’s regional health units, the 24 cases removed brought the net case increase down to 33.

There were no new deaths reported today. 

Windsor-Essex County reported the highest case increase with 10 new cases included in today’s epidemiology summary. Peel and Ottawa both reported seven new cases and Southwestern (Oxford, Elgin, St. Thomas) reported eight new cases. 

Based on the information included in the provincial summary, there are 952 active cases of COVID-19 in Ontario, including 60 individuals who are hospitalized with the coronavirus. There are 21 COVID patients in intensive care units and 12 patients on ventilators. 

To date, Public Health Ontario has reported 40,194 cases of COVID-19, with 36,456 of those cases (90.7 per cent) now listed as recovered, and 2,786 cases (6.9 per cent) ending in death.

Since yesterday’s report, the province reported 21,581 more COVID tests have been completed. 

As of yesterday, Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit has reported 667 cases of COVID-19 to date, with 636 of those cases located in Simcoe County. 

There are 618 cases now recovered and 37 people have died in the region. The health unit indicates there are 12 active cases in the region – all in Simcoe County. There is one person from New Tecumseth still in hospital recovering from COVID.

The 12 active cases include residents from Barrie (5), Bradford (1), New Tecumseth (3), Innisfil (1), Essa (1), and Ramara (1). 

In Simcoe-Muskoka, the incidence rate for the coronavirus is 112.2 cases per 100,000 people in the population. 

Case breakdown by municipality for Simcoe County as of Aug. 10

MunicipalityTotal casesRecoveriesDeathsIn HospitalLast case reportedIncidence rate*
Barrie20118214 Aug. 10134.6
Bradford W-G13412112 Aug. 4311.9
New Tecumseth848011Aug. 10202.7
Innisfil5352  July 23132.5
Orillia19172 July 3053.8
Collingwood1616  July 2066.7
Wasaga Beach15141 June 1965.2
Clearview981 July 2760.9
Springwater15141 July 2071.4
Midland1212  July 2466.9
Oro-Medonte972 Aug. 438.6
Adjala-Tosorontio99  June 1677.2
Essa18161 Aug. 675.3
Ramara1211  Aug. 5115.6
Tiny66  July 16not released
Tay99  July 23not released
Penetanguishene871 July 23not released
Severn77  July 27not released

*Incidence rate is number of cases per 100,000 people in the local population.

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Lineups begin early as Brandon residents wait for coronavirus tests – Global News



The first person in line at the Brandon coronavirus test site was there at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday.

By 8 a.m., at least 40 cars had joined the line behind him, all in an effort to avoid the massive lineups seen the day before.

The site opened at 8:45 a.m.

People waiting in line Monday at the Brandon drive-thru community testing site at the Town Centre Parkade waited for hours.

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A cluster of cases in Brandon over the past several days has people scrambling to be tested in the Manitoba city.

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Dr. Brent Roussin, the province’s chief public health officer, said Monday there were now more than 60 known cases in one cluster in Brandon, and there were 196 active cases in the province, which is a record high.

Read more:
Manitoba sees 16 new coronavirus cases Monday, province seeing indication of community transmission: Roussin

A second testing site in Brandon will open on Wednesday at the Keystone Centre grounds with hours of operation the same as the Town Centre location, said Prairie Mountain Health.

“Clients may choose the site they prefer to go to (Town Centre or Keystone Centre), however they may be re-directed to the other site in order to help balance lineups and shorten wait times,” PMH said in a statement.

“PMH asks individuals who are not symptomatic or who have not been directed by Public Health or

Occupational Health to be tested, to please refrain from coming to the Brandon test sites at this time.”

One woman in line Tuesday morning told Global News the increase of cases was bound to happen.

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“A lot of people did let their guard down, and that’s why we’ve got a few cases,” she said. “It’s nothing that we can’t control.”

— with files from Abigail Turner

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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More COVID cases among Manitoba meat plant staff, but no closure planned – Red Deer Advocate



BRANDON, Man. — Manitoba’s top doctor says stricter regional restrictions are possible as a cluster of COVID-19 cases in the province’s second-largest city grew to 64, with more than a third them workers at a hog-processing plant.

Maple Leaf Foods said Monday that 23 of its employees in Brandon had tested positive for COVID-19, though neither the company nor public health officials believe the virus has been spreading within the workplace.

Manitoba reported 16 new cases on Monday, bringing the provincial total to 558. There are currently 196 active infections.

Chief Medical Officer Brent Roussin said there is some evidence of community transmission in Brandon, though most cases are linked to a known source.

“Our approach is to not have widespread restrictions, (but to) take a much more surgical approach,” Roussin said.

“So we haven’t been looking at anything specifically right now. That’s always obviously on the table.”

He said officials have been closely monitoring the Maple Leaf plant, though there’s nothing to suggest virus spread within the facility.

“The company is going beyond public health recommendations and is having a larger number of workers self-isolating than what was recommended by public health,” Roussin said.

“We’re in regular communication with the company, which has been quite co-operative and continues to share information with us.”

Maple Leaf vice-president Janet Riley said pandemic protocols include daily health and temperature screening, mandatory face coverings and social distancing.

“Public health officials support our view that our workplace remains safe and that there is no reason to suspend operations,” she said in an emailed statement.

“Simply put, based on all the evidence, COVID-19 is not being spread at our plant. It is important to note that 144 members of our Brandon plant team have tested negative for COVID-19.”

United Food and Commercial Workers Local 832, which represents 2,000 Maple Leaf employees, has been calling for a brief halt to operations until outstanding COVID-19 tests for known virus contacts come back.

Union president Jeff Traeger said some of the positive cases have been among people working the same shift in the same department at Maple Leaf.

“And so I think it’s either a very strong coincidence or maybe they haven’t gotten it right — I don’t know.”

Either way, he said the plant should take a pause given how many workers carpool and take public transit to and from work.

Traeger said aside from refusing a shutdown, Maple Leaf has done a good job acting on recommendations to make operations safer. He added the company, union and government are discussing setting up testing at the plant.

He said the union is trying to avoid the “worst-case scenario” seen at the Cargill cattle slaughterhouse south of Calgary this spring, where nearly half the workers tested positive for COVID-19.

Traeger said workers, many of whom came to Canada as temporary foreign workers, are “absolutely terrified.”

“A large, large percentage of them have contacted the union office looking for a way to not go to work, but of course they’ve all got bills to pay.”

Brandon Mayor Rick Chrest said the Maple Leaf plant is by far the single biggest private employer in the community, but he would support a temporary closure if public health officials deemed it necessary.

The same goes to any possible broader lockdowns for the region.

“Throughout this, we have deferred to public health experts to really provide the direction and we’ve carefully and deliberately followed their lead from the very beginning of the pandemic,” Chrest said in an interview.

“These people have the expertise and the skill and training and experience to be able to lead us on this.”

— By Lauren Krugel in Calgary

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on August 10, 2020

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