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Canada at risk of another lockdown as coronavirus cases surge – Hindustan Times

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Canada’s two largest provinces have warned they may have to lock down parts of the economy again after a spike in Covid-19 cases.

Quebec, which has had more virus deaths than 40 US states, is an epicenter of the problem. The province has about 5,000 active cases, a 71% jump from the beginning of August, and is on the verge of closing bars and restaurants again in its two biggest cities, Montreal and Quebec City. Hospitalizations went up 26% in six days.

Ontario, the largest province with 14.7 million people, reported 700 new cases Monday, the most ever in a day, though it’s also testing far more people than it was in spring. A group of hospitals called on Premier Doug Ford’s government to revert to stricter “stage two” measures in Toronto and Ottawa, which would mean restricting or closing indoor businesses such as gyms, movie theaters and restaurants.

“It’s up to each of us. Together our collective actions will decide if we face a wave or a tsunami,” Ford said Monday at a news conference during which he pleaded for residents to follow rules and get the flu vaccine — but did not move the province back to stage two.

It’s a reversal of fortune for a country that avoided the summertime spike that hit the US As the pandemic got worse in Sun Belt states, a largely compliant Canadian population hunkered down and wore masks.

Provincial governments, which set the rules for most companies, allowed the vast majority of businesses to open up again, sometimes with capacity limits and new sanitation rules. In Toronto, the financial capital, many restrictions were lifted on July 31.

As Labor Day neared, virus cases started to rise again. They flared in British Columbia, praised for its early handling of the crisis. Nationally, active cases have more than doubled since Sept. 1, to 12,759. Almost 95% are in the four largest provinces, with the greatest problems in big cities.

Six months of restrictions left some Canadians just as restless as their counterparts in the rest of the world. Across the country, the spike in new cases is being driven by social gatherings among people in their 20s and 30s, fed up with social distancing and hoping to take advantage of the last weeks of warm weather.

“What we’ll tell people is: Stay home. We’re going to ask for a considerable social sacrifice,” Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube said in an interview on Radio Canada late Sunday. “There’s going to be difficult decisions for bars and restaurants” he added, as Quebec City and Montreal are about to be declared a “red zone,” the highest level in the province’s alert system.

The greater concern is that Covid-19’s toehold is becoming a foothold just as the country begins its rapid slide through autumn to winter, said Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist at the University of Toronto. This coronavirus survives and stays in the air longer in cold, dry weather, he said — people’s mucous membranes are less effective at filtering it out and infection rates are much higher indoors. Despite a run on fire pits and patio heaters, most policy makers are not expecting Canadians to dine outside in sub-zero temperatures.

Lower Mortality

One bright spot in the situation is the relatively low mortality rate in Canada. With the tragic exception of elder care facilities in Ontario and Quebec, where death rates soared early on, Canada’s fatality rate, per capita, is less than half that of the U.S. since the pandemic began — roughly 25 people per 100,000 population versus 63 in the U.S.

As treatments have improved, along with better protection for the elderly and, crucially, greater testing — and therefore identification — of cases in younger people, so have the mortality numbers.

But while a lower fatality rate is good news, it doesn’t protect hospitals from being overwhelmed by a surge in cases, especially during flu season. And there are significant health consequences with the virus, Furness said.

“If we focus just on the death rate, eventually everyone is going to say this is no big deal,” Furness said. “We should reframe our understanding of Covid as vascular disease that causes widespread brain damage in the population.”

For policy makers and politicians, protecting the hospitals, which already have enormous backlogs of delayed surgeries, and keeping the schools open are key. But the rising numbers threaten disruption on all fronts.

“If politicians do not have the political fortitude to reintroduce some restrictions, then our risk of sliding into something much worse — like the U.K. or Spain — that’s still on the table,” said Furness. Canada needs to implement rapid testing across the country, tighten definitions on “non-essential” travel and hold the line on 14-day quarantine periods for those who have been out of the country, he said.

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7 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health as warning issued for Halloween – Lake Country Calendar

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There are seven new cases of COVID-19 being reported in the Interior Health region overnight, bringing the total in the health authority since the start of the pandemic to 741.

There are currently 87 active cases that are in isolation.

No one is in hospital.

Interior Health is reporting no additional exposures in schools.

Across the province there are an additional 272 cases of COVID-19, with one death and three new outbreaks in the health care system.

There has been a community outbreak declared at Suncor’s Firebag oil sands project, 120 km northeast of Fort McMurray, Alberta, the second time an Alberta oil industry facility has dealt with coronavirus as workers travel in and out to B.C. and other locations.

Dr. Albert De Villiers, chief medical health officer for Interior Health said the health authority has seen an increase in cases as the province moves through the second wave of COVID-19.

“This rise in cases is reflected across B.C. and it is important we all do our part to reduce the risk of further exposures in our communities,” he stated. “The Provincial Health Officer has issued a new order on household visitors, which means households cannot have more than six people of any age visit at one time. The order applies to all gatherings – indoor and outdoor – hosted at households, such as a Halloween or large dinner party, celebration of life, wedding or baby shower.”

De Villiers went on to say while the restrictions pose challenges, everyone is being asked to celebrate Halloween in an alternative way.

READ MORE: Ho, ho, no: Experts advise preparing for a scaled-back COVID holiday season

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272 new cases of COVID-19 reported in B.C., with zero new in Island Health – CHEK

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British Columbia’s health officials have revealed that there have been 272 new cases of COVID-19 over the last 24 hours, with zero of those cases linked to the Island Health region.

The total number of active cases in British Columbia has increased to 2,390 – a rise of 46 from October 29 – while 6,003 residents remain under active public health monitoring.

On Friday, there was one additional death related to the virus, meaning the provincial total over the course of the pandemic is 263.

Dr. Bonnie Henry says that there are currently 78 individuals hospitalized from COVID-19 in B.C. – a decrease of eight since Thursday – with 25 people in intensive care (increasing by one from Thursday).

As of Friday, the total number of cases in British Columbia over the course of the pandemic has been 14,381.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 4,664 cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 8,219 in the Fraser Health region, 256 in the Island Health region, 741 in the Interior Health region, 412 in the Northern Health region and 89 cases of people who reside outside of Canada.

Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a written statement that there have been three new health-care facility outbreaks as of Friday as well. Outbreaks have been reported at Hawthorne Seniors Care Community, CareLife Fleetwood and Queen’s Park Hospital unit 3C NMSK 2.

While three new outbreaks were reported on Friday, another three came to an end. The outbreaks at Fort Langley Seniors Community, The Village and Sunset Manor and Good Samaritan Victoria Heights have been declared over. In total, 24 long-term care or assisted-living facilities and two acute-care facilities have active outbreaks.

Island Health

Active cases within the Island Health region have decreased to 8.

Of those active cases, three are in the South Vancouver Island area, three are in the Central Vancouver Island region, while two are located on the northern parts of Vancouver Island.

Island Health’s COVID-19 numbers as of Oct. 30, 2020. (Island Health)

Southern Vancouver Island includes the Greater Victoria region, Southern Gulf Islands and the Port Renfrew area.

Central Vancouver Island includes the Cowichan Valley, Duncan, Nanaimo, Parksville, Port Alberni and Tofino areas.

Northern Vancouver Island goes from the Comox Valley to Port Hardy but also includes surrounding areas like Alert Bay and Sointula.

Halloween

With Halloween coming up this weekend, Health officials also issued a reminder to British Columbians to stay safe and keep gatherings small.

“As we all enjoy Halloween tomorrow, make it about the treats and not the tricks. Respect homes that are choosing not to participate this year and give everyone the space to stay safe, both indoors and outdoors,” reads a joint statement from Dix and Dr. Henry.

“There are many ways to make fun memories this fall. This weekend is a great opportunity to be outside, enjoying the fall foliage and Halloween decorations.”

According to Dr. Henry and Minister Dix, surveillance will be increased this weekend as authorities monitor for large gatherings.

“Now is not the time for parties or large gatherings in our homes. Instead, let’s spend time with others in a safe way, outside or in venues that have COVID-19 safety plans in place,” reads the joint statement.

Earlier this week, Dr. Henry announced new limitations for the number of people that could visit our homes, restricting gatherings to immediate household members and a “safe six.”

The BC Centre for Disease Control has also released a set of guidelines aimed at helping British Columbians stay safe this year on Halloween.

The BC CDC is advising British Columbians to try to incorporate a non-medical mask or face covering into costumes. With this in mind, officials are suggesting that costume masks should not be worn over non-medical masks or face coverings as that may make it difficult to breathe.

Health officials are asking for anyone trick-or-treating to stay in their own neighbourhoods this year and avoid busy areas or indoors (in places like malls).

It is also being recommended that homeowners find creative ways to hand out treats while keeping physical distance and limiting contact. For any homeowner feeling ill, the BC CDC asks them to turn off their porch lights and stay home.

“Let’s make this weekend a safe and fun experience by keeping our groups small and by practising our COVID-19 sense,” concludes the written statement.

More COVID-19 information

If there is a confirmed COVID-19 case in a school, public health contacts affected school community members directly. Regional health authorities also post school notifications on their websites, providing the date and type of notification (outbreak, cluster or exposure) for impacted schools.

The Island Health school site can be found here.

Island Health’s COVID-19 data breaks down North, Central and South Island case counts and lists the number of days since any new lab-diagnosed cases. You can find the data here along with any public exposures.

According to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Medicine, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide is more than 45.4 million. More than 1.18 million deaths have been recorded.

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Fraser Health outbreaks push active COVID-19 infections in B.C. to all-time high of 2390 – Alaska Highway News

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B.C. has never had more people actively battling COVID-19 infections, as new government data showed a total of 2,390 people suffering with the virus that has spurred a global pandemic. 

That’s 46 more people suffering with the illness than was the case yesterday and it comes as 272 people were newly identified as infected in the past 24 hours. With 10,420 tests conducted, the day’s positive-test rate was 2.6%.

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The hotspot for new infections remains the 1.8-million-resident Fraser Health region, which includes much of the eastern and southern Lower Mainland, including 20 communities, such as Burnaby, Coquitlam, Surrey, Delta, Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack, but not Richmond or Vancouver.

Only about two-thirds of the new cases are from Fraser Health today, however. That’s down from the average in the past week, which had seen about three-quarters of all new cases located in the Fraser Health region. 

Here is the breakdown of all 14,381 detected COVID-19 cases in B.C., by health region, with new cases identified overnight in brackets:
• 4,664 in Vancouver Coastal Health (76);
• 8,219 in Fraser Health (183);
• 256 in Island Health (no change);
• 741 in Interior Health (seven);
• 412 in Northern Health (six); and
• 89 people who reside outside Canada (no change).

The number of COVID-19 patients in hospital fell by six to 78, with 25 of those people having infections serious enough to be in intensive care units. 

The vast majority of those infected are self-isolating at home. Health officials are keeping tabs on a record 6,003 people because those individuals have come into contact with others who are known to be carrying the virus.

The vast majority of COVID-19 patients recover: 11,670, or more than 81%.

One new death was recorded overnight, pushing the provincial death toll from the disease to 263. That leaves 58 patients unaccounted for, and health officials have told BIV that it is likely that they left the province without alerting authorities.

“There has been one new community outbreak, at Suncor Firebag Oil Sands,” provincial health officer Bonnie Henry, and Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a joint statement. “There continue to be exposure events around the province.”

One hospital in Fraser Health, Surrey Memorial Hospital, has had an outbreak for weeks. That health authority earlier this week declared that the outbreak at Delta Hospital is over.

There are three new outbreaks at seniors’ homes and healthcare facilities:
• Hawthorne Seniors Care Community in Port Coquitlam;
• CareLife Fleetwood in Surrey; and 
• Queen’s Park Hospital: Unit 3C NMSK 2.

Three such outbreaks have been declared over: 
• Fort Langley Seniors Community in Fort Langley;
• Sunset Manor in Chilliwack;
• The Village in Langley.

Fraser Health yesterday declared that the outbreak at Good Samaritan Victoria Heights, in New Westminster, is over, and the province confirmed that news today.

Other seniors’ long-term care and assisted living facilities in B.C. that have active outbreaks, include:
• Gateway Assisted Living for Seniors in Surrey;
• Mayfair Terrace Retirement Residence in Port Coquitlam;
• Louis Breyer Home and Hospital in Vancouver;
• Revera Lakeview long-term care home in Vancouver;
• Evergreen Baptist Care Society in White Rock;
• Queens Park Care Centre in New Westminster;
• Three Links Care Centre in Vancouver;
• Royal Arch Masonic Home in Vancouver;
• Haro Park Centre long-term care facility in Vancouver;
• Banfield Pavilion 4 West in Vancouver;
• Peace Portal Seniors Village in Surrey;
• Rosemary Heights Seniors Village in Surrey;
• Zion Park Manor in Surrey;
• Laurel Place in Surrey;
• Amenida Seniors Community in Surrey;
• Baillie House in Maple Ridge;
• Fellburn Care Centre long-term care facility in Burnaby;
• St. Michael’s Centre long-term care facilityin Burnaby;
• Fair Haven Homes Burnaby Lodge in Burnaby; and
• Agassiz Seniors Community in Agassiz.

“As we all enjoy Halloween tomorrow, make it about the treats and not the tricks,” Henry and Dix said.

“Respect homes that are choosing not to participate this year and give everyone the space to stay safe, both indoors and outdoors.”

gkorstrom@biv.com

@GlenKorstrom

 

 

 

 

 

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