Cases of COVID-19 have once again spiked in Manitoba, as provincial health officials announced 110 new cases on Tuesday.
These new cases bring the total number of COVID-19 cases in Manitoba since March to 3,491, which includes one case removed from the total due to duplication.
The cases announced on Tuesday include:
- two cases in the Interlake–Eastern health region;
- 11 cases in the Northern health region;
- two cases in the Prairie Mountain Health region;
- seven cases in the Southern Health–Santé Sud health region; and
- 88 cases in the Winnipeg health region.
The province said there are currently 32 people in hospital, including six people in intensive care. The number of deaths related to COVID-19 remains at 42.
The five-day test positivity rate in Manitoba crept back up slightly to 4.3 per cent as of Tuesday.
The province said there are 1,746 active cases in the province, along with 1,703 recoveries – however, Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer, has said these numbers may not be accurate due to a back log in reporting.
The Winnipeg region continues to have the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Manitoba, with 2,113 total cases since March.
The Winnipeg Metropolitan Region is now under the orange or restricted level on the province’s pandemic response system, which includes increased restrictions.
This comes as Canada’s second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the country’s total case count past the 200,000 mark on Monday.
The majority of Canada’s cases are in Ontario and Quebec, though cases have been rising across the country.
APPOINTMENT-BASED TESTING NOW AVAILABLE IN MANITOBA
The province had 2,149 COVID tests completed on Monday, bringing the total number of lab tests done since February to 228,713.
The province has also announced the introduction of appointment-based testing is launching in Manitoba on Tuesday.
The province said people are now able to make an appointment to book a COVID-19 test by calling 1-855-268-4318 or by going to the government’s website.
For now, the province said appointments will only be available at three sites, including 604 St. Mary’s Rd., 2735 Pembina Hwy., and 1181 Portage Ave.
The rest of the testing sites in the province are still working on a first-come, first-serve basis.
-with files from CTV’s Devon McKendrick and The Canadian Press’ Paola Loriggio
Canadians now owe more than $2 trillion, Equifax says – CBC.ca
Consumer demand for credit intensified in the third quarter, driven chiefly by increases in mortgage balances and new auto loans, according to data released Monday by credit reporting agency Equifax.
Mortgage balances and new auto loans were up 6.6 per cent and 11.7 per cent year over year, respectively, according to Equifax. Overall average consumer debt increased 3.3 per cent compared with the third quarter of last year.
Rebecca Oakes, assistant vice-president of advanced analytics at Equifax Canada, said in an interview that growth in mortgages last quarter was especially high, with the largest increase among people under 35. That trend comes even as economic fallout from the pandemic and associated lockdown measures hit young people especially hard.
“In terms of new mortgages, that could be refinancing, or it could be brand-new, first-time home buyers or it could be people moving house,” Oakes said. “That was actually the highest value that we’ve seen ever.”
The increased demand for auto loans in the third quarter could have been a result of pent-up demand from people who had to wait to buy cars later in the year, Oakes said.
Total debt $2 trillion
The figures in Equifax’s report are drawn from banks and other lenders that provide data to the credit rating agency.
Equifax pegged total consumer debt at $2.04 trillion, while Statistics Canada reported in June that household debt had reached $2.3 trillion, with $1.77 in debt for every dollar of household disposable income.
More than three million consumers have chosen to use payment deferral programs since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Equifax. Since the start of this year, some banks have offered consumers the option to suspend their loan payments for several months, in recognition of the financial strain the pandemic has created for many households.
However, under the payment deferral programs, interest continues to accrue during the months for which payments are suspended.
The percentage of balances where credit users have missed three or more payments was at its lowest level since 2014, with deferral programs likely masking the true delinquency rates, according to Oakes.
NDP calls on Ford gov't to expand asymptomatic COVID-19 testing to all schools in hard-hit neighbourhoods – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News
NDP MPPs are calling on the Ford government to conduct widespread COVID-19 testing at all schools in the province’s hardest hit neighbourhoods after asymptomatic testing at an East York elementary school unearthed 19 previously undetected infections.
Members of the official opposition are urging the provincial government to immediately deploy resources to facilitate voluntary testing centres inside schools in Ontario neighbourhoods with high COVID-19 positivity rates.
“Doug Ford is trying to save a buck by underserving the hardest hit areas,” NDP Deputy Leader and Brampton Centre MPP Sara Singh said in a news release issued Monday.
“He has been refusing to send extra help to hot spots, because he wants to do things on the cheap. That’s resulting in longer, deeper lockdowns and more devastating illness. We need help to end this nightmare, and stop the virus from hurting our loved ones.”
On Sunday, it was revealed that asymptomatic testing at one Thorncliffe Park elementary school resulted in 18 students and one staff member testing positive for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
In a letter sent to parents yesterday, the principal of Thorncliffe Park Public School said Toronto Public Health detected the cases after 433 tests were processed on Thursday and Friday.
Thorncliffe Park is one of the neighbourhoods in the GTA that has been hardest hit by the pandemic.
Speaking at a news conference on Monday afternoon, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said that the data indicate that community transmission in Thorncliffe Park is substantially worse than the transmission happening within the school.
“I think it should be noted that the principal within this school has communicated that the positivity rate compared from the community to the school is quite vast. In the community, it is roughly 16 per cent positivity whereas in the school it is roughly four per cent,” he said.
“There is a four time increase of transmission happening in the community notwithstanding that those schools are right at the heart of those neighbourhoods.”
He said the disparity indicates that there is “something right happening” when it comes to the “layers of prevention” occurring in the public school system.
“The fact that hundreds of students and staff have gotten tested in this school in conjunction with the local public health unit, I think underscores that the plan in place is working hard to mitigate any further spread,” Lecce said.
“This morning, including the data points from Thorncliffe, 99.9 per cent of Ontario students are COVID-free and that continues to underscore the importance of following public health advice and it really I think demonstrates the importance of keeping schools open, which is our plan for 2021.”
Roughly 14 per cent of the province’s 4,828 publicly funded schools have at least one reported case of COVID-19 and at least four schools are currently closed as a result of outbreaks of the disease.
Province changed testing guidelines last week
Just last week, the province adjusted its COVID-19 testing guidance for school staff and students in Toronto, York Region, Peel Region and Ottawa to allow voluntary asymptomatic testing.
The province also offered school boards in the regions an additional $35 million to strengthen public health measures.
The testing pilot, which is in place for four weeks, was implemented to better track how the virus is spreading in and around schools.
Since late September, Ontario’s assessment centres would not test asymptomatic people unless they were linked to a known case.
The NDP called the funding and four-week testing program a “half-measure.”
“Some students in some regions may be able to get tests. According to the government, the location and method for testing will vary between regions and cities, regions will have to develop their own plan,” the NDP said in a news release last week.
“Ford’s still trying to cheap out on testing students, teachers and staff, and that’s not good enough.”
Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health, said the cases at Thorncliffe Park Public School are “concerning but not surprising.”
“Those numbers are obviously concerning. We know that that is one of the neighborhoods in the city of Toronto that has high rates of COVID-19 transmission,” she said at a news conference on Monday afternoon.
“That is one of the schools that was chosen for this testing initiative and when we have a lot of COVID-19 in the community, by its nature it spills into the schools.”
She said the province is continuing to work with Toronto Public Health to identify measures that will help prevent further spread of the virus in the city’s schools.
Infectious diseases specialist Dr. Abdu Sharkawy called the discovery at Thorncliffe Park Public School an “important” one.
“We know that children tend to be minimally, if not symptomatic at all, but they appear to be quite good at spreading this,” he told CP24 on Monday.
“So we need to be quite aware of whether or not there is any asymptomatic signal within our younger children to prevent that from spreading to others in a multi-generational household or others who are certainly going to be at a higher risk if they acquire COVID-19 and become a lot sicker.”
Sharkawy said he hopes the province continues to expand asymptomatic testing in schools.
“There are a lot of asymptomatic people out there who are infected with this virus and unfortunately until we ramp up our testing capacity and ideally target areas that appear to be harder hit, we won’t really know the extent of the disease that’s out there,” he said.
“I think that this was actually an important finding. I don’t think it is one that should create too much alarm amongst people sending their children to school but I hope it is a pilot program that will catch on, especially in other areas that are hard hit.”
Canadian consumer debt tops $2 trillion: Equifax Canada – BNN
Consumer debt in Canada topped $2 trillion this fall, driven largely by increased demand for mortgages and car loans, according to Equifax Canada.
In its latest quarterly report, Equifax found total consumer debt rose 3.8 per cent to $2.041 trillion in the third-quarter of 2020 compared to the same period last year.
“Homebuyers are largely the reason why we’ve crossed over the $2 trillion threshold,” Rebecca Oakes, assistant vice president of advanced analytics at Equifax Canada, said in a release Monday.
“Car sales have also rebounded in the last few months. With manufacturer and auction house shutdowns there has been a temporary shortage of vehicle availability in some areas.”
Mortgage balances rose 6.6 per cent year-over-year, while new car loans increased 11.7 per cent compared to the same period last year. Meanwhile, average credit card spending returned close to pre-pandemic levels, according to Equifax.
While the 90-day delinquency rate for non-mortgage debt fell to 0.98 per cent, the lowest level since 2014, Equifax noted some worrying signs.
“The low delinquency rates we’re currently seeing are likely being masked by deferral programs,” Oakes said, adding deferral programs saw uptake from over three million consumers since the start of the pandemic.
“There are some warning signs in early-stage delinquency on credit cards where consumers have missed one or two payments that we’re closely monitoring.”
According to Equifax, 12 per cent of new credit products in the third-quarter were opened by consumers who took advantage of a deferral program.
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