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Alberta medical experts call for mandatory COVID-19 restrictions based on hospitalization numbers

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Two Alberta medical experts say the province should bring in mandatory restrictions to combat rising COVID-19 cases and the high number of people being treated for the illness in hospitals.

With 3,203 active cases and 116 people in hospital, including 16 in ICU beds, there’s enough evidence that voluntary restrictions are not working, said Leyla Asadi, an infectious disease specialist in Edmonton.

“If our metric is increasing hospitalizations, which we’re definitely seeing, then we are responding to transitions that occurred several weeks ago,” Asadi said. “So I think that those factors definitely suggest that we need to be looking at mandatory restrictions.”

A potential second wave of COVID-19 could become a tsunami based on the current number of cases, said Dr. Tehseen Ladha, a pediatrician and assistant professor at the University of Alberta, who also wants to see mandatory measures introduced.

“This is a time that requires some rules and regulations in order to keep us safe,” Ladha said. “And that simply hasn’t happened. I’m really hopeful it will happen soon, because things are snowballing. And they’re going so fast that even if restrictions are put in place now, things are still going to peak very high.”

On Tuesday, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health said hospitalization rates don’t meet the thresholds that would trigger mandatory restrictions.

“Putting in mandatory restrictions, again, is something that we absolutely have on that list of things to do if we start to see our health-care system being impacted beyond what it can achieve,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said.

“We have seen an increase in our hospitalizations, and in the past few days we have had more people in hospital with COVID than we ever have before. So while we have not met that trigger, it is critical that we all work together.”

Hinshaw introduced voluntary measures on Oct. 8, nearly two weeks ago. Since then cases have continued to increase, as have hospitalizations.

Asadi would like to see gatherings restricted to 10 people, and wants to limit restaurants to 50 per cent of their capacity, along with a curfew on alcohol sales or a temporary closure of bars.

She said Albertans would be understanding if restrictions were introduced for a limited time to help decrease the number of cases in the province, as happened back in April.

“Huge sacrifices were being made at the time, and nobody wants to go back to that level of stringency,” Asadi said. “But I think Alberta and its institutions have shown that they’re more than able to respond appropriately, like the lab has ramped up its testing dramatically. They’ve hired a lot more contact tracers.

“And I also think that the sooner we act, the less strict we may need to be in the long run.”

Ladha said economic concerns and civil liberties may be reasons for not introducing mandatory restrictions, but she worries things will get worse if no further action is taken.

“If some restrictions aren’t put into place right now, the impact on the economy long term, if we have to return to a full lockdown, will be much, much more damaging than if we are able to put in no more minimal restrictions on a rolling basis to keep things under control.”

‘A matter of debate’

Hinshaw said it’s a matter of debate whether mandatory measures should be introduced now versus waiting for hospitalization metrics to be reached.

“There are always risks and benefits,” she said. “If we were to put in place mandatory measures right now, we would be putting them in place before we knew if we were able to turn that tide without the mandatory measures.

“We know that restrictions have an impact on other aspects of people’s health. And if we don’t need to use mandatory restrictions, then that would be the ideal scenario where we can get through this with people’s collective efforts and mitigate the impact on all those other determinants of health that we know are so important.”

Source: – CBC.ca

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RELEASE: COVID concerns at Signal Brewery – Quinte News

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Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) is advising individuals who attended Signal Brewery (Corbyville) between November 19 – December 4 that they may have had an exposure to COVID-19. HPEPH is in the process of investigating multiple cases of COVID-19 that were present at the restaurant during this time frame. Signal Brewery has closed voluntarily while the investigation is underway.

All individuals who attended Signal Brewery between November 19 – December 4 are:

  • Advised to seek testing immediately for COVID-19, even if you do not have symptoms.
    • Book an appointment online for the Belleville or Trenton testing centre. You can also call 613-961-5544).
    • For other testing options, please visit hpepublichealth.ca/getting-tested-for-covid-19/
    • When seeking testing, please provide investigation number 2238-2021-51372 to the testing centre.
  • Monitor closely for symptoms of COVID-19.
  • If symptoms develop, even mild ones such as a runny nose or sore throat, isolate at home and away from others, and seek testing again, even if you were negative the first time.

While HPEPH does not typically disclose the location of COVID-19 cases in order to protect individuals’ privacy, this information is disclosed when needed to meet public health objectives such as prompt notification of potential contacts and reducing the risk of further transmission. HPEPH is in the process of contacting identified high-risk contacts related to these cases. All high-risk contacts will be instructed by HPEPH to self-isolate immediately and to get tested.

“I am urging individuals who attended Signal Brewery on these dates to seek testing, even if they do not have symptoms, in order to protect those around them,” says Dr. Ethan Toumishey, Acting Medical Officer of Health at HPEPH. “All residents are asked to remain vigilant and protect one another – and this includes getting tested if advised, staying home and getting tested if you have symptoms, and limiting your close contacts. If you are not vaccinated, get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

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WECHU issues additional COVID-19 measures | CTV News – CTV News Windsor

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The Windsor Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) has issued a letter of instruction, aiming to address a surge in COVID-19 cases.

With cases of COVID-19 climbing steadily in the past month, local health officials say they are once again putting in place restrictions to curb the spread of the virus.

According to the health unit, the updated letter addresses the key settings associated with COVID-19 transmission identified through ongoing case investigations, which have identified social gatherings as an area of significant concern.

In particular, the revised Letter of Instruction contains the following additional measures:

  • Social gatherings limited to 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors.
  • Added measures for wedding receptions and the social events tied to funerals and religious services.
  • Limiting indoor capacity for bars and restaurants to 50% of their total occupancy.
  • Strict adherence to face covering requirements in all public settings.

Without further intervention, WECHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Shanker Nesathurai believes cases can reach levels similar to those seen at the same time last year.

“We are very worried that we are already seeing this surge of cases in advance of the holiday season and its associated social gatherings,” said Nesathurai. “Immediate action needs to be taken by all residents to address the known sources of transmission which are social gatherings, both in homes and in the community.”

The updated changes go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 10. 

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INQUINTE.CA | Health unit warns of COVID exposure at Signal – inquinte.ca

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