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Correctional officer contracts COVID-19 after brief encounters with infected individuals

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TORONTO —
A case study of a correctional officer who tested positive for COVID-19 despite having no sustained exposure of at least 15 minutes with any infected individual is providing new evidence that the virus can be transmitted in brief encounters.

The study, released Wednesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, has prompted them to expand their definition of a “close contact.”

On July 28, the study states, six incarcerated or detained individuals who had not yet received their COVID-19 results arrived to a Vermont correctional facility from out of state, and were transported to a quarantine unit. In the process, all six — who were not displaying any COVID-19 symptoms — briefly interacted with a 20-year-old correctional officer.

The six tested positive for COVID-19 on July 29. In the contact tracing process, officials looked at every interaction the six had while they would have been infectious, and determined that the 20-year-old correctional officer was not a close contact who needed to be quarantined, according to the Vermont Department of Health’s rules, since he had never been within two metres of any of them for 15 minutes.

Thus, the correctional officer continued working — until August 4, when, at the end of his shift, he started feeling the symptoms of COVID-19, including a loss of smell and taste, a cough, a headache and shortness of breath, among other symptoms.

He tested positive for COVID-19 on August 11.

In order to find out how the correctional officer had contracted the virus, officials observed video surveillance on July 28 to tally up the time the officer had spent within two metres of any of the six individuals who had COVID-19.

“Although the correctional officer never spent 15 consecutive minutes within 6 feet of an [incarcerated person] with COVID-19, numerous brief (approximately one-minute) encounters that cumulatively exceeded 15 minutes did occur,” the case study stated. “During his eight-hour shift on July 28, the correctional officer was within six feet of an infectious [incarcerated person] an estimated 22 times while the cell door was open, for an estimated 17 total minutes of cumulative exposure.”

The study added that while the six incarcerated or detained people wore cloth face masks during some of these interactions, there were a few interactions in a cell doorway or the recreation room where they did not wear a mask.

The correctional officer was wearing a face mask and eye goggles at all times.

Since the officer had no travel-related exposure or any other known close contact exposures, officials surmised that he’d contracted the virus during one of his interactions on July 28.

A “close contact” according to the CDC is someone who was “within six feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 2 days before illness onset.”

In the wake of this study, they are adding to the definition anyone who spends 15 minutes cumulatively within six feet (two metres) of an infected person, even if those 15 minutes are the result of numerous brief interactions, and not in one go.

Fifteen minutes has never been the make-or-break length of time that is necessary for an exposure — there is no magic number detailing exactly how long it takes the virus to successfully make the jump from one body to another.

There are numerous factors that contribute to the risk of contracting COVID-19, and the 15-minute mark is merely a benchmark to allow officials to categorize at what point exposure is most likely, in order to know how to prioritize resources for contact tracing.

In Canada, the official COVID Alert app also uses the 15-minute rule, only alerting those who were closer than two metres for more than 15 minutes to a person who tested positive.

The risk of exposure can be minimized or increased by a number of things, including physical proximity, whether they’re in an enclosed space, whether there is adequate ventilation and air flow, as well as whether both individuals are wearing masks, among other factors.

The case study concluded by advising that public health officials consider the extra risk of cumulative exposure due to brief interactions in settings where frequent interaction within two metres of a person is necessary, such as within a correctional facility.

Sourec:- CTV News

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News Releases | COVID-19 Bulletin #268 – news.gov.mb.ca

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Need More Info?

Public information, contact Manitoba Government Inquiry: 1-866-626-4862 or 204-945-3744.

Media requests for general information, contact Communications Services Manitoba: 204-945-3765.

Media requests for ministerial comment, contact Communications and Stakeholder Relations: 204-794-0732.

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Ontario parents can soon apply for 2nd COVID-19 payout, should come before holidays – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Ontario parents will soon be able to apply for their next COVID-19 cheque from the provincial government and should receive the funds before the holidays.

On Friday, Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced the application portal to receive the second payout will open “within the next week.”

“It’s part of a broader effort to get money in the pockets of parents ahead of the holidays,” he said. “We know it’s tough. We are going to be there for parents and for the kids.”

The second payment was initially announced when the province tabled its budget earlier this month.

Parents of children aged 12 or younger will again be able to receive a one-time payment of $200 per child, and $250 for children 21 years of age or younger with special education needs.

This is the second payout from the province to Ontario families during the COVID-19 pandemic. The first payout came in the spring.

The payments are meant as “a measure of relief” for those affected by outbreaks of the disease in schools and for those choosing to learn at home.

The government will spend $380 million on the second payout to parents, on top of the $378 million from the first round.

Last week, the province announced that Ontario schools will not have an extended winter break.

On Friday, Lecce said the government is doing everything possible to keep students, staff and parents safe amid the second wave of the disease.

“The chief medical officer of health made a determination that at this time (an extended winter break) is not required,” Lecce said. “His belief is that our schools remain fundamentally safe, with 99.9 per cent of kids in the province COVID-19 free.”

“If the circumstances change – as you know, I acted to close schools, the first in the country, and I obviously will act to add new layers of prevention, or take additional recommendations from public health.”

Premier Doug Ford and Lecce announced on Thursday that students at participating schools in Ontario COVID-19 hot spots will be able to get tested for the disease regardless of whether or not they are experiencing symptoms.

As of Friday, 4,470 lab-confirmed positive cases of the novel coronavirus have been confirmed in Ontario schools. There are 671 schools across the province that have reported an infection and six of those schools currently remain closed.

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Black Friday comes with a warning in Manitoba – CBC.ca

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The Manitoba government sent out a stern reminder Friday morning that its public health orders must be heeded.

Black Friday, one of the biggest shopping days of the year, typically has crowds of people lining up well before stores open, but with a strict COVID-19 lockdown in place this year, the province wants the public to know that “personnel empowered to enforce public health orders will be out in full force.”

Anyone who breaks public health orders faces fines of $1,296 for individuals to $5,000 for business.

A news release from the province also urged Manitobans against leaving the province to shop in places where the restrictions aren’t as stringent.

In its release, the province noted a handful of new fines recently handed out, including in the Duck Mountain region, where $1,296 tickets were given to each of four hunters from Ontario for failing to self-isolate upon entering Manitoba.

A $5,000 fine went to Costco on McGillivray Avenue in Winnipeg for selling non-essential items on Thursday, while a ticket in the same amount was handed to the Church of God, south of Steinbach, for holding a service on Nov. 22.

Under current public health orders in Manitoba:

  • Anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or been exposed to COVID-19 by a close contact must self-isolate.
  • Anyone arriving in Manitoba is required to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival to reduce the spread of COVID-19, with some exceptions.
  • Wearing a mask in all indoor public spaces is required, in addition to maintaining the required social distance of two metres in all indoor and outdoor public spaces. The fine for not wearing a mask is $298.
  • Gatherings at private residences are restricted, with some exceptions.
  • Gatherings of more than five people at any outdoor or indoor public place or in the common area of a multi-unit residence are prohibited, with some exceptions.
  • Retailers allowed to remain open must only sell essential items in person.
  • Businesses must limit the number of members of the public at the business to 25 per cent of the usual capacity of the premises or 250 persons, whichever is lower.
  • Places of worship must be closed and drive-in religious services are not permitted.

Despite the rules, the province said there are videos circulating widely on social media that show individuals gathering in groups larger than permitted. Anyone who knows the individuals involved is asked to call the COVID tip line at 204-945-3744 or toll-free at 1-866-626-4862.

Manitobans can also report compliance and enforcement issues online.

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