With businesses and fitness facilities across the province reopening in the second phase of Alberta’s economic relaunch strategy, strict health guidelines are being followed to ensure the safety of customers and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As health measures like physical distancing and extensive cleaning are implemented, some are raising the question of whether Alberta businesses can request proof of a customer’s negative COVID-19 test before delivering a service.
According to Alberta Health officials, businesses in the province cannot ask patrons for proof of a negative COVID-19 test.
“If an organization decides to collect customer information during the COVID-19 pandemic, they are advised to understand their authority to collect personal information and be able to cite their authority under Alberta’s Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA),” Alberta Health spokesperson Tom McMillan said in a statement.
“Under PIPA, an organization would not be able to request the collection of COVID[-19] test results as that would be beyond what is considered reasonable to provide the product or service.”
McMillan added that anyone with concerns can file a complaint with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.
Crush Camp, a gym in Calgary’s East Village, instated a proof policy for negative tests, which members were informed of through an email on Friday.
According to owner Emily Slaneff, the new policy was meant for clients who live at Verve, a nearby residential tower and the site of a COVID-19 outbreak with 34 total cases as of Friday.
“We had heard there were over 30 cases and so we took precautions to ensure that we were keeping our members safe and our staff safe,” Slaneff said. “Of course, with news like this, we knew there would be questions, and we just wanted to take the overly cautious and proactive approach.”
Slaneff said some people had been asked to leave classes, without penalty, as a result of the new policy.
“Our members have been very responsible and very respectful, and we’ve also heard from members who don’t live in that building but who just appreciate that we’re being proactive and keeping everybody safe,” she said.
Later Friday, Global News spoke with Slaneff again, informing her of Alberta Health’s response.
She said the information the gym has received is changing rapidly, and the facility will follow provincial recommendations to keep staff and members safe.
According to Alberta Health, there is little value in businesses asking for evidence that customers have tested negative for COVID-19.
“Any test only captures a snapshot in time,” McMillan said in a statement. “A COVID-19 test detects whether an individual is symptomatic with the virus at that moment. It does not prevent someone from contracting the virus in the future.”
Anybody who tests positive for COVID-19 is legally required to self-isolate and should not be outside their home, McMillan added.
Wanting proof of negative tests ‘not inconceivable’
Alberta daycares operate under a similar model, and keep records of a registered child’s pre-existing conditions.
As per provincial guidelines, if a child shows symptoms of COVID-19, they must get tested for the virus and test negative before returning to the daycare.
“It’s not inconceivable that some businesses may want to do this. Or certain businesses, like a daycare, that it might even make sense for them to do it because the risk of transmission is high,” said Dr. Lorian Hardcastle, associate professor at University of Calgary’s faculty of law and Cumming School of Medicine.
“What I worry about is businesses deciding to do this on an ad hoc basis.
“Businesses that may not be in the business of collecting very much consumer information may not have the privacy processes in place, the infrastructure, the policy, to protect that information in the way that we normally expect our health information to be protected.”
COVID-19 testing is available to all Albertans, and will soon be offered at community pharmacies.
Source:- Global News
HPE Public Health issues order to protect farm workers – Quinte News
- Ensuring that appropriate accommodations and adequate essentials such as food, water, laundry, and cleaning supplies are provided to any farm workers in isolation.
- Ensuring workers have appropriate access to health care services and other supports.
- Implementing consistent work teams/groups to minimize number of contacts throughout the work day.
- Conducting active screening of workers on a daily basis.
- Maintaining physical distancing requirements as best as possible.
- Ensuring appropriate isolation of farm workers, when required, to reduce potential transmission of COVID-19, in alignment with current provincial guidelines.
- Ensuring that workers from any area where there is community transmission of COVID-19 have tested negative within 48 hours prior to beginning work.
COVID-19 in Ottawa: From April spike to June plank – CTV News Ottawa
Data suggest the COVID-19 pandemic curve has flattened in Ottawa and the gradual reopening of businesses has not yet had an impact.
Ottawa’s COVID-19 case count rose steadily in June, but at a much slower pace than previous months. By the latter half of the month, as the economic reopening began to take hold, daily reports of new cases were in the low single digits.
Here is a look at how the pandemic has progressed in Ottawa, 16 weeks since it began.
Cases spike in April
The first case of COVID-19 in Ottawa was confirmed on March 11. The total case count rose slowly during the latter half of March, but quickly ramped up in April. 1,178 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Ottawa during the month of April and 73 people died.
Each day, the number of active cases rose, as new, laboratory-confirmed cases outpaced the number of recoveries. By the end of April, there were 673 known active cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa, according to data from Ottawa Public Health.
Since the end of April, the rise in the total number of cases has slowed and more people began to recover.
May saw the curve’s direction change, but it was also a tragic month for many families in the city.
Curve flattens in May at great cost
Between May 1 and May 31, Ottawa saw an increase in new cases of roughly half the rate seen in April, with 590 new confirmed infections. During that same month, the number of resolved cases jumped dramatically. At the start of May, 805 COVID-19 cases in Ottawa were considered resolved; by May 31, that number doubled to 1,610.
May, however, was also the deadliest month for the disease in Ottawa since the pandemic began, with 168 deaths, many of them in the city’s long-term care homes.
Many of the deadliest outbreaks in long-term care homes began in April, but lasted through the month of May.
Curve plateaus in June
If April was the pandemic’s spike, then May was the hammer that would flatten the curve in June.
According to data from Ottawa Public Health, June has been a plank month. The number of COVID-19 cases and deaths has still been increasing, but at only a fraction of the pace seen in April and May.
There were 132 new lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 between June 1 and June 30, with 19 new deaths.
Active cases continued to fall to a low of 40, though data from June 30 showed a slight increase in the number of active cases, from 40 to 46.
Recoveries continued to increase, but the rate of recovery was also much slower. OPH reported 175 new resolved cases in June, as opposed to 805 in May.
Many of the deadliest outbreaks at long-term care homes officially came to an end in June. Ottawa’s deadliest outbreak, at Carlingview Manor, was officially declared over on June 18. The outbreak claimed 60 lives in the home. The outbreak at Madonna Care Community, where 47 residents and two workers died, ended June 8.
By the end of June, only two outbreaks remained active.
The data suggest fewer people are contracting the virus, accounting for the slower rate of not only new cases, but recoveries as well. The testing figures provided by Ottawa Public Health show that testing remains strong and fewer positive cases are being returned.
At the start of June, as many as three per cent of all tests came back positive. By the end of the month, that number had dropped to 0.3 per cent.
Laboratories returned more than 19,000 test results between June 1 and June 28, for an average of 680 tests per day.
However, OPH notes that those who did contract the virus in June were still getting it from the community, and not from a close contact or institutional outbreak.
According to the data, two-fifths of all new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ottawa in June are believed to be the result of community spread.
The rate of hospitalizations also fell in June. At the start of the month, 39 people were in hospital with COVID-19 complications. By the end of the month, there were two, with one in intensive care.
Full details can be seen at Ottawa Public Health’s COVID-19 Dashboard page, which is updated daily.
Holding the line in July
Ottawa’s medical officer of health, Dr. Vera Etches, says Ottawa has done well to flatten the curve of COVID-19, but the risk of a second wave is real.
“We are seeing second waves emerge in other parts of the world and, while we are fortunately in a much better position here in Ottawa at this point, we are also at risk of a second wave,” Dr. Etches said in a statement on June 29. “We can watch other countries and communities to learn about what works to control COVID19 and adapt approaches to what is appropriate for our city.”
A recent outbreak at a Kingston, Ont. nail salon has led to 30 cases in that city. None of the affected individuals have been hospitalized, but it shows how easily one case can turn into dozens. Recently lifted lockdowns in some parts of the U.S. have been reinstated as cases continue to surge south of the border.
With 40 per cent of all new cases in Ottawa linked to community transmission, Dr. Etches said all of these figures are based only on what has been confirmed by laboratories.
“Currently case numbers are steady, outbreaks are decreasing and we are maximizing testing and contact tracing capacity. This is good news, but the positive case numbers you see updated on our website every day are still just a fraction of the infections truly present in the community,” Dr. Etches said.
“The risk of an increase in COVID19 cases and outbreaks is real. Modelling data shows that a decline of just twenty per cent in public control measures could lead to a second wave. Our actions influence whether a second wave occurs and its severity. Ottawa residents have already shown that they are capable of doing what needs to be done to keep the virus at a manageable level.”
The next step for Ottawa could be a mandatory mask order. Those rules are already in place in Kingston and set to go into effect in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit’s jurisdiction. The City of Toronto also recently passed a by-law making masks mandatory in indoor public spaces starting July 7.
The Ontario government is currently discussing how to move regions into the third stage of its reopening framework. Health Minister Christine Elliott said she is waiting for another week’s worth of data before going ahead.
Stage 3 would allow the size of public gatherings to increase and all workplaces to open, according to provincial guidelines.
Why some people don't want to take a COVID-19 test – The Conversation AU
Last week, outgoing chief medical officer Brendan Murphy announced all returned travellers would be tested for COVID-19 before and after quarantine.
A positive test result, together with contact tracing, gives public health authorities important information about the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, in a community.
So why might people at higher risk of a positive result be reluctant testers? And what can we do to improve testing rates?
The many reasons why
Reluctance to be tested for COVID-19 is not unique to returned travellers in hotel quarantine or people living in “hotspot” suburbs.
That can be for a variety of reasons.
A medical test result is not a neutral piece of information. People may refuse medical testing (if they have symptoms) or screening (if no symptoms) of any type because they want to avoid the consequences of a positive result.
Reasons may relate to potentially losing money or work
Many reasons for avoiding testing are likely to be structural: a casualised workforce means fewer workers with sick leave and a higher burden associated with having to isolate while waiting for test results. After a COVID-19 test in NSW, for instance, this can take 24-72 hours.
Then there’s the issue of precarious work. If people can’t attend work, either waiting at home for test results or recovering from sickness, they may lose their job altogether.
In the case of hotel quarantine, a positive result on day ten will mean a longer stay in isolation. Hotel quarantine is not an easy experience for many, particularly if quarantining alone.
An extension of time at a point where the end is in sight may be a very difficult proposition to stomach, such that avoiding testing is a preferable option.
Another structural issue is whether governments have done enough to reach linguistically diverse communities with public health advice, which Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton recently admitted may be an issue.
Through no fault of their own, may people who don’t speak English as a first language, in Victoria or elsewhere, may not be getting COVID-19 health advice about symptoms, isolation or testing many of us take for granted.
People might fear the procedure or live with past traumas
Reasons may be personal and include fear of the test procedure itself (or fear it will hurt their children), distrust in government or public health systems, and worry about the extent of public health department scrutiny a positive result will bring.
People may also feel unprepared and cautious in the case of door-knocking testing campaigns.
COVID-19 can also lead to social stigma, including blame and ostracism, even after recovery.
As with any health-related decision, people usually consider, consciously or not, whether benefits outweigh harms. If the benefit of a test is assumed to be low, particularly if symptoms are light or absent, the balance may tip to harms related to discomfort, lost income or diminished freedoms.
Should we force people to get tested?
Forcing a person to undergo a test contravenes that person’s right to bodily integrity. This is the right to make decisions about what happens to your own body, without outside coercion.
It also involves medical personnel having to override their professional responsibility to obtain voluntary and informed consent.
Some states have indicated they will introduce punishments for refusing testing. They include an extension of hotel quarantine and the potential for fines for people not willing to participate in community testing.
Forced testing will backfire
We don’t think forced testing is the way to go. A heavy-handed approach can create an antagonistic and mistrustful relationship with public health institutions.
The current situation is not the only infectious disease emergency we will face. Removing barriers to participating in public health activities, in the immediate and long term, will enable people to comply with and help build trusted institutions. This is likely to create an enduring public good.
Victoria is trying to make testing easier. It is offering a test that takes a saliva sample rather than a nasal swab, which is widely perceived to be unpleasant.
This may encourage parents to have their children tested. The test is less sensitive, however, so the gains in increased uptake may be lost in a larger number of false negatives (people who have the virus but test negative).
Ultimately, we need to understand why people refuse testing, and to refine public health approaches to testing that support individuals to make decisions in the public interest.
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