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BC ramps up COVID-19 testing as active cases near 800 – Vanderhoof Omineca Express

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B.C. has recorded 68 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours.

That brings the total number of active confirmed cases as of Wednesday afternoon (Aug. 19) in the province to 798, health officials confirmed.

A further 2,452 people are under active public health monitoring due to possible exposures to others who are infected with the novel coronavirus.

Of the 4,745 people who have tested positive since January, 3,749 people have fully recovered.

“Currently, 10 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19, four of whom are in intensive care,” Health Minister Adrian Dix and B.C.’s deputy provincial health officer, Dr. Réka Gustafson, said in a joint statement. “The remaining people with COVID-19 are recovering at home in self-isolation.”

There have been no new COVID-related deaths, keeping the total fatalities to 198 people.

On Wednesday, two Lower Mainland health authorities announced the expansion of testing centres – increasing the number of hours open and increasing staff on site to assist with administering COVID-19 tests.

“Testing for COVID-19 is an important part of our provincial pandemic response,” Dix and Gustafson said.

“We continue to step up the capacity, in each health region and in our labs, to match our public health activities.”

Those who suspect they have developed symptoms – no matter how mild – are being urged to self isolate and contact HealthLink BC at 811 to arrange for an assessment and test.

“If public health has advised you to self-isolate because you have been exposed to COVID-19, please follow their advice,” the statement reads. “Even if you have no symptoms, a negative test does not mean you can shorten the period of self-isolation.”

READ MORE: B.C. teachers’ union calls for remote learning option, stronger mask mandate

ALSO READ: Doctors brace for viral overload between cold and flu season and COVID-19

“COVID-19 has meant doing things we have never done before. But let’s not forget this is not forever, only for now. Let’s continue to stay strong and push our curve down to where it belongs.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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More flu vaccine being ordered by Ministry of Health – 620 CKRM.com

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With flu season right around the corner, the Ministry of Health is purchasing more over a third more  vaccine than last year to meet what is expected to be an increase in demand.
In a release from the Saskatchewan government Tuesday morning, Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab says it is always a good idea to receive the influenza vaccination but it is particularly important during the pandemic as receiving the vaccine will help prevent the spread of influenza.”
Another enhancement to the seasonal influenza immunization program is the addition of no cost access to the high dose vaccine for personal care home residents 65 years of age or older.  Long-term care residents in the same age bracket will receive the high dose vaccine at no cost again for the third year.
Flu shots are recommended for those at higher risk, including seniors, people with underlying chronic health conditions, children under five and pregnant women.  Seniors often have chronic health conditions (like heart or lung disease or diabetes) and weaker immune systems, which makes them particularly vulnerable to complications from influenza.
There will be modifications to where and how flu shots will be administered this year.  To accommodate public health precautions due to COVID-19, there will be increased physical distancing and sanitization procedures.  Details will be available when the fall immunization program gets underway in mid-October.

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Renfrew County and District Health Unit declares second wave of COVID-19 – OttawaMatters.com

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Renfrew County and District Health Unit’s acting Medical Officer of Heath, Dr. Robert Cushman, has declared the region has entered its second wave of COVID-19 infection.

Dr. Cushman says it is clear they are in the midst of the second wave, citing “COVID fatigue” as the main factor.

He also encourages residents to remain vigilant and continue to wear masks, physically distance, washing hands, and maintaining a social bubble to avoid returning to lockdown.

 

In the meantime, no additional students, staff or close contacts from Fellowes High School tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday or Monday.

This comes as Renfrew County saw 45 cases of COVID-19 throughout the pandemic, including one death.

 

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More than 1,850 Calgary students and staff self-isolate due to COVID-19 – CBC.ca

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Hundreds of students and staff at Calgary schools are currently self-isolating due to potential exposure to COVID-19. 

Schools reopened in-person classes just a few weeks ago. As of Monday, there were 126 confirmed cases at 81 schools across Alberta.

Of those schools with positive cases, 19 are classified as outbreaks, which means there have been two or more positive cases at the school.

Once a case is confirmed, the current protocol is to have an entire classroom self-isolate for the mandated 14 days. 

I recognize that having an entire class isolated has a significant impact on parents and families, and I understand that there’s frustration on the lack of ability to plan.– Dr. Deena Hinshaw

Alberta Health is not currently tracking the total number of students and staff affected, but Calgary’s two school districts were able to share how many in each community have been ordered to quarantine.

As of Monday afternoon, 1,400 students and more than 90 staff with the Calgary Board of Education were self-isolating. 

The Calgary Catholic School District could only provide numbers accurate to Thursday, when 356 students and 22 staff were self-isolating. 

Those numbers do not include students home with symptoms like a cough, or runny nose.

Across Alberta, about 742,000 students are enrolled at more than 2,400 schools. In Edmonton, at least 1,000 students and staff were in isolation as of Friday.

Thousands of parents across the province are also faced with potentially needing to stay home from work, find child care or educate children at home with little warning, after a positive case in the classroom. 

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said on Monday that she has heard concerns from parents about the impact of their children suddenly needing to isolate for two weeks. 

“I recognize that having an entire class isolated has a significant impact on parents and families, and I understand that there’s frustration on the lack of ability to plan,” she said.

“Right now we are taking a very cautious approach, so when there is a single infectious case in a classroom, that entire class is asked to stay home for that 14-day period, and we are watching very closely our experiences with those class cohorts to understand how we can be more targeted so we don’t have to have the whole class stay home in future.”

Even if students test negative for COVID-19 after a classmate tests positive, they can’t return to class until the 14-day period is over as it could take time for the illness to manifest.

What’s really critical for schools is that schools don’t become a place where transmission happens.– Dr. Deena Hinshaw

Hinshaw said there are important health benefits to children from being in school, and said the numbers of school-aged students who have tested positive overall is more of an indicator of community case counts than in-school transmission.

To date, three schools have recorded cases of in-school transmission of the coronavirus.

Hinshaw said the number of weekly cases in school-aged children hit its peak when the province hit its highest case-count in mid-April, when 216 children aged five to 19 had COVID-19. At that point schools had already been closed for weeks. 

Since schools reopened, numbers in that age group increased to 183 in the week of Sept. 9 to 15, and decreased this past week to 122.

“What’s really critical for schools is that schools don’t become a place where transmission happens,” she said. 

She also said the province is working to increase testing speeds for students who are self-isolating due to displaying symptoms of COVID-19, so they can quickly get back to class.

“We recognize that getting test results as quickly as possible, and getting tested as quickly as possible, both of those are really important.”

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