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B.C. clamps down on COVID-19 enforcement with fines for party hosts, guests –



VANCOUVER — Property owners and organizers can be fined $2,000 for hosting events found in violation of public health orders in British Columbia under stronger enforcement measures announced Friday.

The fines can be levied for hosting a gathering in excess of 50 people, failing to keep the contact information of everyone who attends an event, or inviting more than five guests into a vacation rental property, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth told a news conference.

A party with fewer than 50 people is not necessarily legal, he added, since all other public health measures must still be followed.

“Police have their discretion, but if you have 38 people crammed into a kitchen and, you know, there’s no social distancing (taking) place, then clearly that’s in violation of the order and the owner would be subject to a $2,000 ticket,” he said.

Farnworth said “problematic” guests may also face $200 tickets for behaviour that could include refusing to leave when directed or disregarding COVID-19 safety plans at restaurants and other businesses.

B.C. reported 90 new positive tests for COVID-19 on Friday, pushing the number of active cases to 824, including 13 people who are hospitalized.

And for the second day in a row, two more people in the Fraser Health region died after contracting the novel coronavirus, bringing the death toll in B.C. to 202.

In a statement, officials said public health workers are monitoring 2,594 people as a result of exposure to known cases of COVID-19, up by 20 from the day before.

There have been 4,915 cases of COVID-19 reported in B.C. so far.

The province is enlisting liquor, cannabis and gaming inspectors, as well as conservation officers and WorkSafeBC investigators, to help issue the violation tickets for the duration of the pandemic.

It’s also working with local governments to revoke business and liquor licences where violations occur, said Farnworth.

“The province is building a comprehensive and integrated compliance and enforcement regime to put a halt to bad actors in all corners of B.C.,” he said.

B.C. is taking stronger action because the behaviour of a small minority of “selfish individuals” is putting vulnerable people at risk across the province, Farnworth said.

“We can’t let the bad decisions made by a few erode the progress that we have made together.”

Deputy provincial health officer Dr. Reka Gustafson said Thursday the majority of the latest cases of COVID-19 are still being detected in younger adults.

Vancouver Coastal Health has launched a campaign in response to that trend, which includes tips for visiting restaurants, spending time with friends, playing recreational sports, heading to the beach, going on road trips and practising safe sex during the pandemic.

In a release on Friday, the health authority’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Patricia Daly, said the reopening of restaurants and bars, where many young adults work, has contributed to the rise.

But, she said, partying is another factor.

“We’re seeing transmission take place in nightclubs in particular, but also at bars and restaurants, while boating and in other indoor social settings,” Daly said in a statement.

“It’s the way people act and interact in these settings that’s problematic: sharing food and drinks, speaking loudly and in close proximity if there’s background noise, and not social distancing among strangers, especially if they’ve been drinking alcohol.”

At a COVID-19 briefing in Ottawa on Friday, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said the federal government is also planning to step up messaging aimed at young people next week.

She said Ottawa is working to reach young people through non-traditional media and the best way to measure success will be looking at whether infection rates go down.

BC Ferries and TransLink, Metro Vancouver’s transportation network, are also taking further action to stop the spread of COVID-19. Starting Monday, non-medical masks or face coverings will be mandatory for passengers on both transit services.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 21, 2020.

Brenna Owen, The Canadian Press

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Toronto Public Health preparing for second wave of COVID-19 – 680 News



New daily COVID-19 cases are looking very similar to when the virus brought our daily lives to full-on standstill.

The bulk of Sunday’s new cases came in Toronto and the Peel Region, but data suggests the York region now could also be an emerging hotspot with 38 infections that day alone.

Toronto Public Health is preparing for a resurgence of COVID-19, and on Monday will present the board of health with three possible scenarios of what a second wave could look like.

Scenario one would see peaks and valleys, which public health describes as a series of small waves, and could require a reinstitution of public health measures.

The second scenario warns of a large wave in the fall or winter and one or more smaller subsequent waves in 2021, which would require the reinstitution of lockdown measures in an attempt to reduce the spread of infection and prevent the healthcare system from being overwhelmed.

Scenario 3 predicts a slow burn, with no clear wave pattern. Public health says this would not require further lockdowns.

Monday’s meeting is scheduled for 9:30 a.m.

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Sore throat, runny nose among symptoms removed from student health checklist, province confirms –



The list of symptoms parents are urged to screen their kids for each morning before they send them to school has gotten shorter.

Since the reopening of schools across the province, parents have been asked to monitor their children for symptoms of COVID-19, with districts releasing a daily health checklist. Fever, chills, and shortness of breath are among the 17 symptoms parents were told to screen for.

Kids that exhibited any of the symptoms were urged to stay home.

But that list of symptoms has been reduced, B.C.’s Ministry of Health has confirmed. Ten symptoms have been removed, including sore throat, runny nose, headache, and fatigue. Districts have since released updated daily health checklists.

“This was a recommendation from public health to remove some of the symptoms, given the very low probability of these symptoms by themselves indicating COVID,” the ministry said in an e-mailed statement.

“They are also very common in children so there are concerns that it would unnecessarily exclude children,” said the ministry.

The bulk of the symptoms removed from the daily health check for students are still included in both B.C.’s self-assessment tool and the B.C. Centre for Disease Control’s list of COVID-19 symptoms.

Some parents concerned

Parents like North Vancouver’s Amitis Khorsandi say the sudden change has reignited health concerns she had before sending her five-year-old to kindergarten. She fears some COVID-19-positive students could slip through the cracks.

“A lot of people made tough decisions to go back to school, and we’re all taking a risk to send our kids … and then within a week, or less than a week, the rules have already changed,” she said.

Parents are asked to screen children for the following symptoms daily:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Cough or worsening of chronic cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of sense of smell or taste
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting

The following symptoms have been removed from the daily checklist:

  • Sore throat
  • Runny/stuffy nose
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle aches
  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
  • Dizziness, confusion
  • Abdominal pain
  • Skin rash or discolouration of fingers and toes

The ministry says it’s still important to seek medical assessment if children are exhibiting a combination of symptoms.

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Will there be a twindemic? Fighting COVID-19 means fighting the flu – Ottawa Citizen



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The flu presents its own dangers. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, there are an average of about 12,200 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths related to the flu every year. Based on laboratory testing, there were 42,541 cases of seasonal influenza in 2019-2020.

“Everyone should get the flu vaccine this year,” Wilson said. “It’s a no-brainer.”

Concern about a potential twindemic is not overblown, epidemiologist Dr. Jeff Kwong said.

“Most health care workers would say we’re barely managing in a normal flu season. We’re always on the verge of collapse. If you add COVID, we’re in big trouble,”  said Kwong, a professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto.

“The biggest problem with how we view influenza is that there are other respiratory viruses circulating,” he said. “The flu is a whole bunch of viruses with a whole bunch of different presentations. They’re impossible to distinguish without lab tests.”

If people let down their guard on measures to prevent the transmission of COVID-19, such as wearing masks, physical distancing and hand hygiene, there will be a twindemic, Kwong said.

“If people keep having parties, we’ll have influenza. But, if you can control COVID, you can control influenza.”

It is also possible, but rare, to be infected with flu and COVID-19 at the same time. A study published in June in the Journal of Medical Virology found that, among 1,103 patients who had been diagnosed with COVID‐19 in three hospitals in Istanbul, Turkey, six were diagnosed as also being infected with influenza. Co-infected patients have been reported in China, Germany, Iran,  Japan, Spain and the United States.

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