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COVID-19 cases confirmed at two more Winnipeg schools

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WINNIPEG —
The province is advising of confirmed cases of COVID-19 at two more schools in Winnipeg.

Tuesday evening, the province announced there had been a confirmed case of COVID-19 at St. Maurice School on September 17 and 18, and at Emerson School on September 16 and 17.

The province said that staff at St. Maurice School, which is a private K-12 school in Winnipeg, and Emerson School, an elementary school in Winnipeg, is working with public health officials.

The WRHA said staff at both schools had immediately closed off the areas used by the infected persons. These areas were not used again until after cleaning and disinfection occurred.

“Be assured that public health investigations to identify individuals who may have been exposed begin within 24 hours of a confirmed laboratory test,” the province said. “Anyone identified as a close contact will be contacted and provided instructions for self-isolation (quarantine). Testing may also be recommended.”

The province said the exposures for both schools are assessed as low risk and the infection was not acquired at the schools.

The province did not say if any cohorts within the schools have been affected.

CTV News will update this story when more information is available.

Source: – CTV News

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Active COVID-19 cases in Calgary zone exceed 1,000 – Calgary Herald

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Sixteen of the 70 ICU beds allocated for COVID-19 patients are currently in use in Alberta, which marks 23 per cent of available space.

Due to the rise in case numbers, delayed wait times for test results and an increase in flu and cold symptoms, the province has placed more restrictions on asymptomatic testing.

“We must take further action,” said Hinshaw. “Effective immediately, we will be pressing pause on all asymptomatic testing in those who have no known exposure. This is an important and necessary step to help us reduce testing wait times, get results to Albertans and limit the spread.”

Asymptomatic testing was only available for priority groups before Tuesday’s announcement.

Alberta’s top doctor said Alberta has seen a handful of examples of gatherings gone wrong in recent weeks, adding to the provincial COVID-19 case count.

She noted a Calgary “superspreader” wedding linked to at least 49 cases, a workplace gathering connected to nine cases, and a party where one-third of the attendees have tested positive.

“COVID-19 really does love parties and we need to keep this in mind while planning or attending social events,” said Hinshaw, reminding Albertans to keep gatherings small while following all public health guidance.

There are no immediate plans for the government to implement additional measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 as cases grow, unlike other provinces such as Ontario that have rolled back relaxed directives.

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Manitoba seeking nurses, health-care aides, contact tracers in fight against COVID-19 – CBC.ca

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Manitoba is appealing to the public for help filling a number of nursing and health care aide jobs to assist in the fight against COVID-19.

People from all health-care disciplines are asked to apply, including current and former nurses, and people with comparable training, said Shared Health’s Chief Nursing Officer Lanette Siragusa in a news release on Monday.

“These are unprecedented times and we are appealing to everyone who has chosen a career in caring to consider how they can help,” she said.

“Right now, some of Manitoba’s most vulnerable citizens need our help. Whether you are a student just starting your career, are already working in our health system or are looking to step back into patient care after some time away, we have a role for you.”

Jobs are available for people with varied levels of training and experience, including health care students, new graduates as well as current and former health care workers, Siragusa said.

Although there is a need for nurses and health care aides in personal care homes, there are also positions in areas like contact tracing, call centres and testing sites.

Staff are provided with personal protective equipment, training and support. Every precaution is taken to ensure their safety, according to the release.

People with health-care education, as well as those with comparable training including dietitians, spiritual health providers, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, social workers and others are invited to apply.

“Across the province, compassionate and caring individuals have stepped up to ensure we are able to continue offering the services and support needed by those most vulnerable in our community, but we need additional help in a variety of direct care and behind-the-scenes areas,” Siragusa said.

This comes after Manitoba New Democratic Party (NDP) Leader Wab Kinew shared health-care vacancy numbers in western Manitoba during question period Thursday.

The NDP obtained information from Prairie Mountain Health last week showing that 22 per cent of licensed practical nurse positions were open as of August, as well 19 per cent of registered nursing positions and 16 per cent of nurse practitioners jobs.

In addition, 15 per cent of home-care aide and health-care aide positions were sitting vacant.

Meanwhile, the Manitoba Nurses Union (MNU) says nurses are working well below baseline staffing, at times hovering around half their normal complement.

MNU says nurses are being mandated to work overtime at Parkview Place, a private care home run by Revera which is currently experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak. 

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Alberta medical experts call for mandatory COVID-19 restrictions based on hospitalization numbers – CBC.ca

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Two Alberta medical experts say the province should bring in mandatory restrictions to combat rising COVID-19 cases and the high number of people being treated for the illness in hospitals.

With 3,203 active cases and 116 people in hospital, including 16 in ICU beds, there’s enough evidence that voluntary restrictions are not working, said Leyla Asadi, an infectious disease specialist in Edmonton.

“If our metric is increasing hospitalizations, which we’re definitely seeing, then we are responding to transitions that occurred several weeks ago,” Asadi said. “So I think that those factors definitely suggest that we need to be looking at mandatory restrictions.”

A potential second wave of COVID-19 could become a tsunami based on the current number of cases, said Dr. Tehseen Ladha, a pediatrician and assistant professor at the University of Alberta, who also wants to see mandatory measures introduced.

“This is a time that requires some rules and regulations in order to keep us safe,” Ladha said. “And that simply hasn’t happened. I’m really hopeful it will happen soon, because things are snowballing. And they’re going so fast that even if restrictions are put in place now, things are still going to peak very high.”

 On Tuesday, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health said hospitalization rates don’t meet the thresholds that would trigger mandatory restrictions.

“Putting in mandatory restrictions, again, is something that we absolutely have on that list of things to do if we start to see our health-care system being impacted beyond what it can achieve,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said.

“We have seen an increase in our hospitalizations, and in the past few days we have had more people in hospital with COVID than we ever have before. So while we have not met that trigger, it is critical that we all work together.”

Hinshaw introduced voluntary measures on Oct. 8, nearly two weeks ago. Since then cases have continued to increase, as have hospitalizations.

Asadi would like to see gatherings restricted to 10 people, and wants to limit restaurants to 50 per cent of their capacity, along with a curfew on alcohol sales or a temporary closure of bars.

She said Albertans would be understanding if restrictions were introduced for a limited time to help decrease the number of cases in the province, as happened back in April.

“Huge sacrifices were being made at the time, and nobody wants to go back to that level of stringency,” Asadi said. “But I think Alberta and its institutions have shown that they’re more than able to respond appropriately, like the lab has ramped up its testing dramatically. They’ve hired a lot more contact tracers.

“And I also think that the sooner we act, the less strict we may need to be in the long run.”

Ladha said economic concerns and civil liberties may be reasons for not introducing mandatory restrictions, but she worries things will get worse if no further action is taken.

“If some restrictions aren’t put into place right now, the impact on the economy long term, if we have to return to a full lockdown, will be much, much more damaging than if we are able to put in no more minimal restrictions on a rolling basis to keep things under control.”

‘A matter of debate’

Hinshaw said it’s a matter of debate whether mandatory measures should be introduced now versus waiting for hospitalization metrics to be reached.

“There are always risks and benefits,” she said. “If we were to put in place mandatory measures right now, we would be putting them in place before we knew if we were able to turn that tide without the mandatory measures.

“We know that restrictions have an impact on other aspects of people’s health. And if we don’t need to use mandatory restrictions, then that would be the ideal scenario where we can get through this with people’s collective efforts and mitigate the impact on all those other determinants of health that we know are so important.”

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