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Canadians urged to keep COVID-era Thanksgiving gatherings small, virtual – Chemainus Valley Courier

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As the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic washes over the country, Canadians from coast to coast are being asked to limit the size of their Thanksgiving gatherings or keep them entirely virtual.

With daily case counts continuing to rise in several provinces, increased restrictions came into effect in some hot spots heading into the long weekend.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has urged people to stick to their immediate households, saying it’s too risky even to expand the celebration to the current indoor gathering limit of 10 people.

The message came as the province imposed harsher restrictions on the hard-hit areas of Toronto, Ottawa and Peel Region.

In Quebec, where nearly every community along the St. Lawrence River is now considered a “red zone,” Health Minister Christian Dube said Thursday that police would be installing checkpoints on the roads leading into some areas of the province.

Even in the so-called “Atlantic bubble,” where case counts have been creeping upwards of late, officials are urging people to limit their gatherings to their immediate circle of 10 people.

“Nova Scotians have made changes to their daily lives to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, and it’s no different for Thanksgiving,” Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, said in a statement.

“When deciding who to invite, consider the impacts on family and friends who may be more vulnerable and adjust your Thanksgiving celebrations to be as safe as possible.”

B.C. Premier John Horgan also noted that the holiday would look different this year, though he encouraged British Columbians to celebrate “creatively and safely.”

“Because of COVID-19 we will be connecting in smaller groups, or virtually, or on the phone,” Horgan said in a statement.

“We are stronger together. Happy Thanksgiving.”

READ MORE: B.C. CDC releases Thanksgiving, Halloween tips for COVID-safe fall celebrations

The Canadian Press


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St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto declares COVID-19 outbreak among ER staff – Toronto Star

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TORONTO – Another hospital in downtown Toronto has declared an outbreak of COVID-19 among its staff.

Unity Health says there are five active coronavirus cases among emergency room staff at St. Michael’s Hospital.

In a statement Tuesday evening, the health network says “no patient cases have been identified to date” and the risk of patient exposure is low.

However, it recommends anyone who visited the ER at St. Michael’s within the last two weeks to self-monitor.

The hospital is one of four in Toronto that have declared COVID-19 outbreaks in recent days.

The others are St. Joseph’s Health Centre, Toronto Western Hospital and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

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

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CDC redefines what counts as close contact for coronavirus, adds short encounters – Global News

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U.S. health officials Wednesday redefined what counts as close contact with someone with COVID-19 to include briefer but repeated encounters.

For months, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said close contact meant spending a solid 15 minutes within six feet of someone who tested positive for coronavirus. On Wednesday, the CDC changed it to a total of 15 minutes or more — so shorter but repeated contacts that add up to 15 minutes over a 24-hour period now count.

The CDC advises anyone who has been in close contact with a COVID-19 patient to quarantine for two weeks.

Read more:
Coronavirus vaccine may not be initially recommended for kids, U.S. CDC says

The change may prompt health departments to do contact tracing in cases where an exposure might previously have been considered too brief, said Dr. William Schaffner, a Vanderbilt University infectious diseases expert.

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It also serves notice that the coronavirus can spread more easily than many people realize, he added.

The definition change was triggered by a report on that case of a 20-year-old Vermont correctional officer, who was diagnosed with a coronavirus infection in August. The guard, who wore a mask and goggles, had multiple brief encounters with six transferred prisoners before test results showed they were positive. At times, the prisoners wore masks, but there were encounters in cell doorways or in a recreational room where prisoners did not have them on, the report said.


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Coronavirus: COVID-19 vaccine unlikely before late 2021, CDC director says


Coronavirus: COVID-19 vaccine unlikely before late 2021, CDC director says

An investigation that reviewed video footage concluded the guard’s brief interactions totalled 17 minutes during an 8-hour shift.

The report didn’t identify the prison but Vermont officials have said that in late July, six inmates tested positive when they arrived at the Marble Valley Correctional Facility in Rutland.

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In a statement, CDC officials said the case highlights again the importance of wearing masks to prevent transmission, and that the agency’s guidance can change as new information comes in.

Read more:
White House blocks new coronavirus vaccine guidelines that would delay approval

“As we get more data and understand this COVID we’re going to continue to incorporate that in our recommendations,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said at a press conference in Atlanta.

The CDC also says close contact can include hugging and kissing, sharing eating or drinking utensils with someone infected, and providing home care to someone who is sick. Someone sneezing or coughing on you also counts.

The risk of spread is considered to be lower outdoors, but the CDC guidance update “makes scientific sense,” said Dr. Michael Saag, an infectious disease researcher at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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New Brunswick reports fourth COVID-19 death, 6 new cases – CTV News Atlantic

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HALIFAX —
New Brunswick reported its fourth COVID-19-related death, as well as six new cases in the Campbellton region (Zone 5), on Wednesday.

Public Health confirms that an individual between the ages of 70 and 79 died Wednesday in Zone 5 (Campbellton region) as a result of underlying complications, including COVID-19.

“The loss of another person in our province related to COVID-19 is not news we ever want to have to share,” said New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs in a news release. “I, along with all New Brunswickers, send sincere condolences to the family and friends of this individual, as well as to everyone who continues to be impacted by the recent outbreaks.”

“I ask all New Brunswick to join me in extending our heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and loved ones of the deceased,” added Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health. “It has been difficult to witness the unfolding outbreak in the Campbellton-Restigouche region.”

In addition to the death, New Brunswick is reporting six new cases of COVID-19, all in the Campbellton region. The individuals are all self-isolating and the cases are under investigation.

The new cases involve:

  • One individual under the age of 19
  • One individual in their 30s
  • Two people in their 40s
  • One individual in their 50s
  • One individual in their 60s

Nine previously reported cases are now considered recovered, dropping the total number of active cases in the province to 92, with 57 of those reported in the Campbellton area (Zone 5).

CASE OUTLOOK

The number of confirmed cases in New Brunswick is 319 and 223 cases are considered recovered, leaving 92 active cases in the province. There have been four deaths in the province.

Five patients are hospitalized, with one in an intensive care unit.

As of Tuesday, 94,322 COVID-19 tests have been conducted.

The number of cases are broken down by New Brunswick’s seven health zones:

  • Zone 1 – Moncton region: 93 confirmed cases (33 active cases)
  • Zone 2 – Saint John region: 32 confirmed cases (1 active case)
  • Zone 3 – Fredericton region: 60 confirmed cases (1 active case)
  • Zone 4 – Edmundston region: 8 confirmed cases
  • Zone 5 – Campbellton region: 120 confirmed cases (57 active cases)
  • Zone 6 – Bathurst region: 3 confirmed cases
  • Zone 7 – Miramichi region: 3 confirmed cases

SECOND CASE CONFIRMED AT DALHOUSIE SCHOOL

Dalhousie Regional High School is reporting its second positive case of COVID-19 in just over a week. 

The school confirmed the case in a letter to parents on Tuesday. 

The case is not connected to the first positive case at the school, which was first confirmed on Oct. 12.

ZONE 1 AND ZONE 5 REMAIN IN ORANGE PHASE

Both Zone 1 (Moncton region) and Zone 5 in New Brunswick remained in the orange phase Wednesday, but it is anticipated that Zone 1 will return to the yellow phase this week.

There are 33 active cases in Zone 1, but Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health, has said the novel coronavirus appears to be contained, and, if current trends continue, the Moncton region will return to the yellow phase this Friday. 

Zone 5 will remain at the orange level, however. 

VEHICLE TRAFFIC INFORMATION

New Brunswick’s online dashboard includes information about vehicle traffic attempting to enter the province.

On Tuesday, 1,807 personal and 1,530 commercial vehicles attempted to cross the border into the province.

Of the vehicles attempting to cross the border, 29 were refused entry, for a refusal rate of 0.9 per cent.  

This is a developing story, more to come.

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