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COVID-19 counts continue to rise as Canada approaches 300,000 cases – Saanich News

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Canada’s COVID-19 hot spots reported minor declines in daily infections on Sunday, but health officials urged people to remain cautious as the country rapidly approaches the 300,000-case mark and overall trends remain worrisome.

The national case count stood just shy of 296,000 after daily tallies in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec declined from Saturday’s record-setting levels.

Alberta reported 991 new cases of COVID-19 and six deaths, while Ontario reported 1,248 new cases and 29 deaths. Health authorities in Quebec, meanwhile, logged 1,211 new cases and 15 additional deaths.

Those figures declined from 1,026, 1,585 and 1,448 cases, respectively, a day earlier.

Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube said the slight decline was “encouraging,” but said ongoing vigilance around public health protocols will be critical if residents want to contain the spread of the virus.

“I think it’s encouraging to see that we can have a good day, but it’s going to take several good days,” Dube told reporters during a Sunday morning news conference in Montreal.

“I’m going to let the next days bring us more good news, but in the meantime, we need to continue to follow safety measures,” he said.

The virulence of the novel coronavirus was dramatically demonstrated in Nunavut over the weekend, where territory-wide case counts more than doubled over the past 48 hours.

The 10 new cases reported on Sunday, all linked to an outbreak in the community of Arviat, took the overall total to 18. Arviat’s first positive diagnosis was only confirmed on Friday.

“Due to the number of cases of COVID-19 in Arviat, anyone … who left the community on or after Nov. 2 is being asked to immediately isolate for 14 days wherever they are,” territorial Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson said in a statement.

Canada’s top doctor also urged residents not to let their guard down in indoor settings as winter approaches.

Dr. Theresa Tam has exhorted Canadians to be more proactive in their efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19 to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed in the weeks ahead.

Despite the modest decline in several infection hot spots, numbers continued to soar in much of the country.

In Manitoba, new COVID-19 cases surged to 494 on Sunday compared to 237 the day before. The province reported 10 new deaths, seven of which were linked to an outbreak at a Winnipeg care home where dozens of residents have died.

Shortly after the province reported the spike in infections, Justice Minister Cliff Cullen criticized Manitobans who attended a rally on Saturday to protest against mandatory masks and other lockdown measures.

The event in Steinbach, Man., about 60 kilometres south of Winnipeg, was “incredibly unfortunate, dangerous and wrong,” Cullen said in a statement.

He urged residents to follow public health guidelines and warned that law enforcement officers would ticket anyone found breaking the rules.

Meanwhile, Saskatchewan reported 181 new COVID-19 cases and two new deaths on Sunday. The numbers bring the provincial total to 31 deaths since the pandemic began.

Premier Scott Moe said Sunday that more measures could be coming to fight COVID-19 in the province in addition to those already slated to take effect this week.

Effective Monday and for the next 28 days, masks will be mandatory in indoor public spaces in any community with more than 5,000 residents. Restaurants and bars must also stop selling alcohol by 10 p.m. and make sure everyone has finished their drinks by 11.

After the new measures were announced on Friday, hundreds of doctors who signed a letter earlier in the week urging stronger action penned a new missive saying the new rules don’t go far enough.

In Atlantic Canada, two new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Nova Scotia on Sunday, and three new infections were reported in New Brunswick.

Newfoundland and Labrador also recorded two new cases, including an overseas contract worker for the province’s Crown-owned energy corporation.

-with files from Rob Drinkwater in Edmonton and Shawn Jeffords in Toronto.

Jillian Kestler-D’Amours, The Canadian Press


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N.B. could have COVID-19 vaccine by January. Now comes deciding who gets it first – CBC.ca

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All things considered, it’s a good problem to have: eight months into managing the COVID-19 pandemic, Public Health officials in New Brunswick now must start sorting out who to vaccinate first.

It won’t be easy, given that the number of New Brunswickers old enough to be considered high-risk far exceeds the number of doses coming in the first wave of vaccines early next year. 

The province could receive enough doses for 60,000 people early in January. 

But the number of people over the age of 60 — the point at which the risk of serious COVID-19 impacts increases dramatically — is more than 200,000.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell said choosing who will be at the front of the line will be a complicated calculation.

“That’s the point of prioritizing,” she said. “We know there’s not going to be enough, and this is going to be the most complex immunization program ever delivered in this country and around the world.” 

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell says choosing who will be at the front of the line will be a complicated calculation. (Submitted by the Government of New Brunswick)

Federal distribution plan based on population

The federal government has agreed to distribute the first batch of vaccines, due in the first three months of 2021, using a formula roughly based on population.

With enough doses for three million people, that would translate into about 60,000 New Brunswickers vaccinated by April.

Russell said she and her counterparts federally and in other provinces have agreed on a general plan that will be hammered into place in time for expected regulatory approval of the first vaccines next month. 

Distribution could begin as early as January. 

“I think long-term care nursing home facilities would be priority one, certainly, as a very vulnerable section of our population,” said Premier Blaine Higgs.

The New Brunswick Association of Nursing Homes said there are 4,800 beds in its member homes.

“I think you would move quickly into the health-care workers and protecting them, and then the likely next step would be seniors,” Higgs said.

Premier Blaine Higgs thinks long-term care nursing homes would be ‘priority one’ for getting the vaccine in New Brunswick. (CBC News file)

Nursing home workers would account for 4,800 doses

First responders would also be near the top of the list, Higgs said.

“And then you just kind of work through the age demographics.”

Vaccinating unionized nursing home workers around the province would require more than 4,800 doses.

That’s how many members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees work in more than 50 nursing homes, according to union spokesperson Simon Ouellette. 

Vulnerable people should be prioritized, but so should the people who work with them.– Simon Ouellette, CUPE spokesperson

Five long-term care or nursing homes have been hit by outbreaks in New Brunswick.

Some nursing home workers, including maintenance and cleaning staff, must move from room to room, creating the risk of becoming a super-spreader, Ouellette said.

“Vulnerable people should be prioritized, but so should the people who work with them.”

There are also 1,875 doctors in the province, according to Dr. Jeff Steeves, president of the New Brunswick Medical Society. The New Brunswick Nurses Union estimates 6,400 nurses are in the workforce now.

Those doctors include emergency department and critical care physicians who are potentially exposed to COVID-19 frequently.

“Those most exposed to those being ill are going to need it first,” Steeves said.

New Brunswick Medical Society president Dr. Jeff Steeves says ER doctors and critical care physicians are potentially exposed to COVID-19 frequently and so should be among the first to get the vaccine. (New Brunswick Medical Society)

People with chronic conditions on high-priority list

And there are 950 ambulance paramedics who are “seeing folks that they don’t have a really good understanding of when they initially respond about what may or may not be wrong with them,” said Chris Hood, executive director of the Paramedic Association of New Brunswick.

“The association feels strongly that to protect the members, who are obviously in short supply, and to protect the public that they serve, they should be one of the first groups to be done,” he said.

Russell said New Brunswickers with chronic conditions are also “somewhere on that list” of high-priority patients.

According to the New Brunswick Health Council, 11.6 per cent of adults in the province have been diagnosed with asthma and 11.4 per cent have been diagnosed with diabetes, two conditions that COVID-19 can quickly make life-threatening.

Russell said Indigenous people will also be a high priority because COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on them.

But it’s possible the federal government, which has responsibility for Indigenous issues, will hang on to a small percentage of vaccine doses and do that itself, along with immunizing some military members and federal inmates.

She said the goal is to have 75 per cent of the province vaccinated, enough to create herd immunity in the population. She doesn’t see that happening until next fall or later.

Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Dominic Cardy said he would support immunizing school children soon after the high-priority groups are done. (Submitted by the Government of New Brunswick)

Cardy wants schoolchildren to follow high-priority groups

Higgs said Thursday that the fact some people will want to wait to ensure the vaccines are safe could make the process easier.

“There’s a number of people that want to be vaccinated early, and there are probably others that want to kind of wait a bit,” he told CBC’s Power and Politics. “So it may not be a rush to the front of the line immediately.”

Last week Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Dominic Cardy said he would support immunizing schoolchildren soon after the high-priority groups are done. 

“We’re seeing, unfortunately, in the last few months, a significant increase in the number of young people who are becoming not just infected with COVID-19 but are then passing it on,” he said.

“Younger people get less sick, but they can be just as efficient a disease vector as anyone of any age, so I’d certainly argue that. I think that would make sense.”

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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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