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COVID-19 cases in Canada remain on troubling course, Tam says, amid rising numbers – NiagaraFallsReview.ca

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Canada remains on a troubling path for new COVID-19 infections as case counts continue to mount, the country’s top doctor said Saturday.

The most recent infection rates indicate Canada is on track to hit as many as 10,000 new cases a day by next month, Dr. Theresa Tam said.

“If we continue on the current pace, our longer range models continue to forecast significant increases in daily case counts and estimate that there could be up to 10,000 cases reported daily by mid-December,” Tam said in a written statement.

“Right now, we have a window of opportunity to act collectively together with public health authorities to bring the infection rate down to a safer trajectory.”

Canada is currently recording caseloads at about half that level, with the most recent seven-day average standing at 5,335 between Nov. 20 and Nov. 26.

Tam said Canada is also averaging 76 deaths a day and more than 2,100 people in hospital.

People 80 years and older are experiencing Canada’s highest COVID-19 death rate, and there are now more and larger outbreaks in long-term care facilities, hospitals, group living settings, Indigenous communities and remote areas, she said.

“Those developments are deeply concerning as they put countless Canadians at risk of life-threatening illness, cause serious disruptions to health services and present significant challenges for areas not adequately equipped to manage complex medical emergencies,” Tam said.

Her assessment came as case counts continued to soar in numerous provinces.

Quebec set a new single-day record with 1,480 new infections Saturday as the provincial death toll crossed the 7,000 threshold.

Alberta also broke its own record, reporting 1,731 new cases of the virus on Saturday. It also counted five new deaths.

Ontario logged case numbers just shy of Friday’s one-day record as it reported 1,822 new diagnoses in the past 24 hours.

Case numbers also jumped sharply in Manitoba, where officials recorded 487 new infections and 10 new deaths.

Among those who died was a boy under the age of 10, officials said, though they offered no other details.

Saskatchewan reported 197 COVID-19 cases and one death Saturday.

The province ordered the suspension of team sports earlier this week until Dec. 17 after confirmed COVID-19 cases among several minor and recreational hockey teams.

The Saskatchewan suspension applies to hockey and curling leagues and dance studios.

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The Saskatchewan Health Authority posted notices Saturday of COVID-19 exposure risks at curling and recreation centres at Christopher Lake and Shellbrook. Those curling or socializing at either of the two facilities last month must self-isolate for 14 days, the health authority said.

In British Columbia, Fraser Health announced the closure of an elementary school in Surrey after confirming 16 COVID-19 cases.

Newton Elementary School will close for two weeks, said Fraser Health.

B.C. reported a daily record of 911 COVID-19 cases Friday. The province will update its numbers Monday.

People must continue to practise physical distancing, frequent hand washing and staying home as much as possible, said a newly appointed member of B.C. Premier John Horgan’s cabinet.

“I just think it’s important for us to be thoughtful and caring, but at the same time it’s critical that people follow the rules because it’s vital to be able to keep our schools open and keep as many of our business open as possible,” said Ravi Kahlon, whose ministry includes economic recovery.

Figures from New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador show more modest increases of four and two cases, respectively.

Prince Edward Island reported two new COVID-19 cases, but they involved young males aged 10 and 19.

There were 14 new cases in Nova Scotia and five COVID-19 cases in Nunavut.

Tam redoubled her calls for Canadians to heed public health advice, limit their social interactions and practice physical distancing in a bid to bring surging case counts under control.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2020.

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Province pushes on with huge revamp of health care amid pandemic – Winnipeg Free Press

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More than 1,600 workers battling the pandemic braced for more upheaval after the Manitoba government said it would forge ahead with the second wave of health-care restructuring.

Health Minister Heather Stefanson and Mental Health Minister Audrey Gordon announced the plan on Wednesday.

“Key information management and public health roles (will be) consolidated within Manitoba Health and Seniors Care, while an integrated mental health and addictions service (will be) established within Shared Health, Health and Seniors Care.”

“By establishing a solid foundation within Shared Health, we will be able to adopt new and improved ways of delivering care provincially, in ways that improve access to these vital services closer to home for many Manitobans,” Gordon said in a news release.

Responsibility will be given to Shared Health, or another entity to be established by government, for Cadham Provincial Laboratory, Selkirk Mental Health Centre, the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba; as well as some employees who currently work in the Department of Health and Seniors Care, the Department of Mental Health, Wellness and Recovery; and the Department of Central Services. 

The changes were identified by the 2018 health system transformation blueprint, the province said, and the transfer won’t take place before May 20.

The reorganization represents yet another stressful challenge for health-care and front-line workers, who are coping with the challenges of COVID-19, says the head of the Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union.

“It is very concerning that this government would trigger such large-scale disruption for health-care staff and operations in the middle of the ongoing pandemic,” union president Michelle Gawronsky said in an email.

“Many of the impacted members are focused on processing COVID-19 tests. Others are providing mental health and addictions treatment at a time when we know the need for these services has never been greater,” Gawronsky said. Health workers are busy keeping the system going while it is under tremendous strain, she said.

“It is simply unconscionable that the government would add the disruption, anxiety, and risk associated with implementing large-scale restructuring on our health-care system,” Gawronsky said.

Critics said the timing of the announcement and the restructuring — on a day when the news media is focused on the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden and during a pandemic — is telling.

“The government shouldn’t be using the pandemic as cover to try and sneak through significant changes to the health-care system they had planned long before COVID-19,” said NDP Leader Wab Kinew.

He’s especially concerned about “turning the management of Cadham lab upside down during the pandemic.” 

“I don’t think they should be making these huge changes to the very office that is doing the testing for COVID,” said Kinew. “It’s an opportunity for more mistakes to creep into our pandemic response.” 

Pushing ahead with  “transformation” while COVID-19 is raging is “absolutely irresponsible and reckless,” Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont said. The timing of the announcement, he said, suggests the Tories don’t want much publicity.

“It’s inauguration day in the United States. It’s pretty clear what’s going to be the lead story tomorrow… It’s not going to be the fact that the Pallister government, in the middle of a pandemic, is still pursuing more upheaval and more changes to the health-care system,” Lamont said.

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Carol Sanders
Legislature reporter

After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.

   Read full biography

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A look at COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021 – Thompson Citizen

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The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021.

In Canada, the provinces are reporting 41,760 new vaccinations administered for a total of 692,899 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 1,828.264 per 100,000.

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There were 18,975 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 907,515 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 76.35 per cent of their available vaccine supply.

Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis.

Newfoundland is reporting 3,258 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 8,549 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 16.326 per 1,000. There were 2,400 new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 13,575 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.6 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 62.98 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

P.E.I. is reporting 1,684 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,910 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 37.257 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 8,250 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 71.64 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Nova Scotia is reporting 5,344 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 9,175 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 9.402 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 23,000 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 39.89 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

New Brunswick is reporting 2,704 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 10,436 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 13.379 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 17,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 58.71 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Quebec is reporting 10,207 new vaccinations administered for a total of 174,260 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 20.365 per 1,000. There were 16,575 new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 237,125 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 73.49 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Ontario is reporting 13,784 new vaccinations administered for a total of 237,918 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 16.197 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 277,050 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 85.88 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Manitoba is reporting 2,514 new vaccinations administered for a total of 20,265 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 14.717 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 46,290 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 3.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 43.78 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Saskatchewan is reporting 2,658 new vaccinations administered for a total of 27,233 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 23.095 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 29,300 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 92.95 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Alberta is reporting 2,928 new vaccinations administered for a total of 95,243 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 21.636 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 101,275 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 94.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

British Columbia is reporting 5,756 new vaccinations administered for a total of 98,125 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 19.122 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 133,475 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.6 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 73.52 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Yukon is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,347 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 32.278 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 17 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 18.71 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,893 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 41.956 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 16 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 26.29 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Nunavut is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 2,545 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 65.718 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 6,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 15 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 42.42 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

*Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 21, 2021.

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Manitoba doctors prescribe healthy dose of caution when relaxing public health orders – CBC.ca

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Three Manitoba doctors who signed a letter calling for a provincewide lockdown in the fall say easing restrictions too soon and too fast could lead to another surge of COVID-19 cases in the province. 

“Based on what I’m seeing, it seems to me that there’s a very high probability that if we implement all of the lifting of restrictions that were listed, we’re going to be right back with restrictions in, you know, three, four weeks,” said Dr. Anand Kumar, an infectious disease expert and Winnipeg intensive care specialist.

While all of Manitoba is at the critical level on Manitoba’s pandemic response system, the province announced Tuesday it was considering relaxing some of the current health measures, in all regions but the north, as early as Saturday.

Possible changes include allowing people to have two visitors inside their home, five guests outside on their property and increasing the number of people allowed at a funeral to 10.   

The province is also considering allowing stores to reopen, as long as they comply with occupancy limits and physical distancing measures, and removing restrictions on the purchase of non-essential items. 

Additionally, hair salons and barber shops are on the list of businesses that could begin operating again.  

Kumar said one-one-one services like those offered at a hair salon are lower risk as long as safety measures, including masking, are in place. 

However, he said he’d like to see the province wait until the number of new infections reported daily is around 40 or 50, which he thinks would allow for aggressive contact tracing, and a test positivity rate closer to five per cent before making too many changes at once.

Dr. Anand Kumar says loosening restrictions too soon could send the province back into a situation where the health system is overloaded with COVID cases. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

Kumar said new, more infectious variants of COVID-19 have been detected in Canada and the province’s health care system needs to be able to respond if case numbers soar. 

“If you just push the numbers below what will cause overload, it takes very little to go past overload,” said Kumar. “If we get the new infectious variant and we have that level of where we are just managing to handle it, we’re overloaded in two weeks.”

Manitoba reported 154 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, including 70 cases in the northern health region. Winnipeg’s five-day test positivity rate dropped to 6.7 per cent, the lowest it has been since October. Manitoba’s five-day test positivity rate was 9.5 per cent. 

Dr. Kelly MacDonald, an infectious disease expert and professor at the University of Manitoba, said people need to remember that even if infection rates are lower in Winnipeg and parts of southern Manitoba, case numbers are surging in the northern region and the health care system serves the entire province. 

“It doesn’t matter if you’re from Treherne, Man., from Churchill, or from Flin Flon or from Winnipeg. If you need cardiac surgery you need to go to St. Boniface hospital,” said MacDonald. “If that ICU is full of COVID patients, you’re out of luck. So we need to make sure that we, you know, deal with capacity issues for everybody in the whole province.”  

MacDonald said she is among a group of physicians who at the beginning of January cautioned the provincial government against easing restrictions too quickly. 

“My thinking is that if we are going to loosen things up, we should do so in a stepwise manner so that we know what the impact is,” said MacDonald. “And that we let people know that this is a … sort of temporary measure to see the impact.”  

Manitoba’s acting deputy chief public health officer, Dr. Jazz Atwal, said at a news conference Wednesday that the province would be making careful choices about what will be allowed to reopen. 

“We need to take our time to do this, to do it right, so we don’t have to go back and forth. Opening and closing, opening and closing is not something we want to do.”

Dr. Philippe Lagace-Wiens a microbiologist and physician at St. Boniface hospital said he has concerns about allowing large shopping centres like malls to reopen. 

“Even at 25 per cent of capacity, there’s going to be a lot of people congregating there, a lot of people congregating in food courts and things like that,” he said. “I think that is a substantial risk that needs to be reconsidered.”

Dr. Philippe Lagace-Wiens is a medical microbiologist and physician at St. Boniface Hospital. (Philippe Lagace-Wiens/Facebook)

He said Manitobans should remember that even as restrictions ease, they still need to protect themselves against COVID-19. 

That includes wearing masks when visiting with another household, physical distancing, maximizing things like curbside pickup and deliveries and following public health guidelines about gathering sizes. 

“Keep those individuals consistent,” he said. “It can very, very damaging to the process if you decide, ‘I’m allowed to have two people, but I’m going to have two people today, and two different people tomorrow and two different people the day after that.’ At that point, it becomes essentially the same as gathering of a large number of people over time.”

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