Alberta Health Services conducted a number of investigations at a chain of Calgary-based shawarma restaurants after receiving multiple complaints of illness, the health authority confirmed Thursday.
AHS said it received the first complaint related to Jerusalem Shawarma on Dec. 6, and then received more reports from 17 different groups who ate at multiple locations from Dec. 4 until Dec. 12.
The health authority conducted more than 25 inspections at all restaurant locations between Dec. 7 and Dec. 18, at which point it was determined norovirus was the likely cause of the illnesses.
“Public health inspectors discarded potential foods of concern (i.e. cut vegetables, sauces, et cetera), implemented enhanced handwashing procedures and increased disinfection levels and frequencies,” reads a statement from AHS.
The restaurants were not closed down due to the outbreak being attributed to norovirus, according to AHS.
Norovirus is not a serious illness, AHS said, though some individuals may have symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramping. Others may have chills, headaches or a low-grade fever, but symptoms generally subside within one or two days.
Those infected with norovirus can easily spread it to others, AHS said. The illness is spread through contaminated food and drink, and can also be spread when individuals touch surfaces that are contaminated and then place their hand in their mouth.
“Albertans are reminded to stay home when sick, refrain from preparing foods while sick with diarrhea or vomiting, and always wash hands well with soap and warm water before preparing foods or drinks or before eating or drinking,” reads a statement from AHS.
AHS said it is continuing to work with Jerusalem Shawarma to ensure the outbreak is contained and doesn’t pose any further risks.
Public health officials call for tighter restrictions, warn COVID-19 could spiral out of control – CBC.ca
Infectious disease experts say Canadian health authorities must tighten restrictions again or hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 will increase exponentially in the coming weeks.
Echoing comments made Tuesday by Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam, who said Canada is at a crossroads in its pandemic battle, experts in public health are urging governments to take decisive action to prevent the current resurgence of the virus from spiralling out of control.
Canada reported 1,248 new cases Wednesday, and on Tuesday the country’s most populous province, Ontario, reported its highest number of new cases since early May.
Tam outlined projections that show new cases could climb to 5,000 daily by October if we continue on the current course.
“To date, we’re not moving fast enough to get ahead of this,” said Dr. Michael Gardam, an infectious disease physician based at a Women’s College Hospital in Toronto. “I think we’re being lulled into a false sense of security because of the low numbers of hospitalizations and deaths [relative to earlier in the pandemic]. But they will come in the next six weeks or so.”
He said asking people nicely to tighten their social circles is not going to be enough.
“I think that appealing to people’s better natures — that, hey, you should be careful and you should make sure you limit your contacts — I don’t think that that’s going to work, to be perfectly frank.”
Gardam said Canadians grew fatigued with the restrictions imposed on their social circles earlier in the year and won’t be eager to return to them unless pressed.
“I think we’re going to have to be a lot more forceful,” he said.
That means demanding Canadians tighten their social circles, and backing that up with enforcement.
“I would argue that we need to be very cautious, like we were back in March, in order to weather the storm from all the increased contacts that we’ve had.”
Right now, “people are playing fast and loose with bubbles all over the place,” said Gardam.
If you increase the number of contacts that you have, this is going to go to hell real quick.– Michael Gardam, infectious disease physician, Women’s College Hospital
Instead, he says we need to rethink social bubbles now that school is in session again.
“We’re all going to have to pay the price because our kids are in school now. So what are we giving up?
“If you want to keep the restaurants open and bars, maybe you have to give up your private gatherings,” he said. “Because if you just increase in every dimension, if you increase the number of contacts that you have, this is going to go to hell real quick.”
The actions taken in the next two weeks could change the trajectory of the months to come, said Laura Rosella, an associate professor at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health,
“There’s a lot of things with this pandemic that we can’t control, but we might be able to control who we interact with, especially socially, and who’s in our bubble,” said Rosella, who holds a PhD in epidemiology.
“I would encourage everyone to rethink what their bubbles are given the new situation, especially if something’s changed, if someone’s gone back to work, someone’s entering a school situation and especially if vulnerable people are in their bubbles.”
Rosella said her advice to Canadians is to “really think through what is absolutely necessary” when it comes to interactions with others.
More than a blip
Rosella said Canadians can’t afford to ignore the changes happening with COVID-19.
“We’re not in the August situation anymore. There’s clearly an uptick of cases,” said Rosella, “The fact that we’re already on that trajectory tells me that the likelihood of this being just a small blip, that we’re not going to notice and we can carry on, is pretty low.”
“We are going to experience a significant increase that we’re going to have to manage and react to. It could be worse if we do nothing. And if we act, we could minimize the impact of it.”
Dr. Samir Gupta, a clinician-scientist at St. Michael’s Hospital and an assistant professor in the department of medicine at the University of Toronto, said getting a handle on this COVID-19 surge means returning to restrictions implemented earlier in the pandemic.
Speaking with Heather Hiscox on CBC Morning Live Wednesday, Gupta said Canadians “need to start making similar sacrifices to the ones we made the first time around,” which was successful with flattening the curve in the spring.
Without enforcement, “we risk overwhelming our health-care system capacity … [and getting] into real trouble,” he said.
“We don’t want to have to turn people away and not be able to take care of people who are sick with this virus. And that’s the biggest risk we face.”
30 of 42 new Manitoba COVID-19 cases are in Winnipeg, as more possible exposures announced – CBC.ca
Winnipeg’s growing active COVID-19 caseload jumped again on Wednesday, when 30 of Manitoba’s 42 new cases of the illness were people who live in the capital city.
The update in a provincial news release came with a familiar plea to people living in or visiting Winnipeg: wash your hands, reduce the number of people you see from outside your household and stay home when sick.
There are now 418 active COVID-19 cases in Manitoba, with 335 of those — 80 per cent — in Winnipeg.
Wednesday’s update also came with more warnings about public places in Winnipeg that have had possible COVID-19 exposures. Several more bars and restaurants and a college are now among the places where people may have been exposed to the illness.
The new exposures include Earls restaurant in St. Vital (on Sept. 15 from 5:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.), Leopold’s Tavern in River Heights (on Sept. 15 from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.) and a trivia night at Wee Johnny’s Irish Pub in the Exchange District (on Sept. 15 from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.).
Possible exposures were also announced at Local Public Eatery downtown (on Sept. 15 and 16, though no times were provided) after exposures were previously announced at the restaurant on Sept. 11 and 12. More information about possible public exposures is posted on the Manitoba government’s website.
Anyone who was at those places on the listed dates and times should watch for symptoms; if any develop, those people should immediately get tested for COVID-19 and self-isolate, the release says.
Late Wednesday, the Winnipeg School Division said a cohort of students at Grant Park High School was in self-isolation as someone at the school had tested positive.
Health officials told the school division that the person did not contract the virus in the school and risk to other students is considered low, division spokesperson Radean Carter said in an email.
One cohort at the school will begin self isolation while awaiting further instruction from public health, Carter said.
In a letter posted online, public health officials said the person was at the school on Sept. 15, 16 and 17 and that the affected class has been moved to remote learning.
A case of COVID-19 has also been linked to Red River College’s Notre Dame Campus in Winnipeg, the college said in an email to students on Wednesday afternoon.
The school got word from public health officials about the positive test on Wednesday, the message from chief human resource officer Melanie Gudmundson said. The person did not have symptoms while on campus, and the risk of further spread at the school is considered low, the email said.
One classroom has been closed for deep cleaning and disinfection, and everyone who was in that space on the day the sick person was there has been sent home, the email said.
On top of the 30 cases in Winnipeg, an additional six of the new cases announced Wednesday are in the Southern Health region. A further three are in the Prairie Mountain Health region, two are in the Interlake-Eastern health region and the remaining one is in the Northern Health region, the news release says.
Manitoba’s COVID-19 test positivity rate — a five-day rolling average of the number of tests that come back positive — jumped to 2.2 per cent from 1.8 per cent on Tuesday, the release says.
There are 11 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Manitoba, including five people in intensive care. That’s up from eight people in hospital and two people in intensive care on Tuesday.
19th death confirmed Tuesday
A resident of Winnipeg’s Parkview Place care home has died of COVID-19, the company that runs the home confirmed on Tuesday. The person’s death, which was not included in the province’s update, was Manitoba’s 19th coronavirus-linked fatality.
A spokesperson for the province said public health doesn’t announce or comment on COVID-19 deaths until investigations are complete.
As of Tuesday, seven residents and one staff member at the Winnipeg care home had tested positive for COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the outbreak at the Rideau Park Personal Care Home in Brandon, Man., is now over, the province’s release on Wednesday says.
The site has been moved down from critical red to caution yellow in the province’s colour-coded pandemic response system.
To date, 1,674 cases of the illness have been identified in the province and 1,238 people have recovered.
Two other deaths linked to COVID-19 were announced in Manitoba on Monday.
One was a woman linked to the outbreak at the Brandon Regional Health Centre’s Assiniboine Centre, Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said.
The other was a man connected to a communal living setting in the Southern Health region, Roussin said.
The number of confirmed cases of the illness linked to the outbreak at John Pritchard School in Winnipeg had reached 20 people, health officials said on Tuesday, nearly triple what it was a week earlier.
Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman urged the province to mandate face masks across the province on Tuesday, though he acknowledged the city could bring in the new rules in Winnipeg on its own.
Earlier this week, the province announced a partnership with Dynacare, a private testing lab, which is expected to more than double how many COVID-19 tests Manitoba can do.
On Tuesday, 1,703 more COVID-19 tests were done in Manitoba, bringing the total completed in the province to 170,045.
'We're in crisis mode': Infectious disease specialist calls on residents to reduce activities during second wave COVID-19 – CTV Edmonton
As the second wave of COVID-19 continues in Ottawa, an infectious disease specialist is calling on residents to take precautions into their own hands.
“Right now, we’re in crisis mode,” said Dr. Abdu Sharkawy, CTV News Infectious Disease Specialist, in an interview with CTV News Ottawa.
“Only do what you have to do. I don’t want to use the term lockdown, but I think you really have to reduce your social circle,” said Dr. Sharkawy.
Speaking with CTV Morning Live Wednesday morning, Dr. Sharkawy said until the second wave of the virus settles down, people should be limiting trips and avoiding any special gatherings that aren’t essential.
“It’s not business as usual, every decision that you make, whether it’s work, school, socially related or otherwise it’s going to have an impact throughout your community,” said Dr. Sharkawy.
“Let’s take it upon ourselves, everybody needs to be accountable.”
Meanwhile, the idea of a second lockdown is a worrying one for some small businesses, like the King Eddy in the Byward Market.
“I’m not really sure who could survive another lockdown to be honest with you,” said Johnny Bonney, assistant general manager of the King Eddy.
Bonney said with the recent spike in COVID-19 cases and the second wave of the virus affecting the city, business has already declined.
He’s hopeful to be able to continue to welcome patrons safely.
“We’re doing everything we can to make it safe, and to continue for it to be safe, not only for our customers, but for our employees, so I think people should be able to dine out with confidence,” Bonney said.
Ottawa Public Health said due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases it would consider new closures and restrictions, but with a targeted approach to address possible sources of COVID-19.
Ottawa Public Health’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches told Council that she does not want to have to shut things down.
Public health officials call for tighter restrictions, warn COVID-19 could spiral out of control – CBC.ca
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