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COVID-19: Four Western University students in quarantine after residence outbreak – Timmins Times

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Four students in the same Western University residence building have tested positive for COVID-19, prompting the Middlesex-London Health Unit to declare a coronavirus outbreak.

The infected students live in London Hall, Western said in a statement Sunday night. The residence has 10 floors with 417 beds, according to an online profile.

The outbreak follows one of the largest single-day spikes of cases in London and Middlesex County, as 20 new COVID-19 infections were announced Sunday. The one-day surge was powered largely by people younger than 30.

Last month, 28 Western students were part of an outbreak linked to close contact at London bars and house parties in early September.

“This outbreak highlights the need to limit close contact to only those within your dorm room, maintain two metres physical distance, wear a mask and stay home or in your suite if you feel unwell,” Dr. Alex Summers, the associate medical officer of health, said in a statement Sunday night.

Contract tracers are alerting close contacts of the four students to the positive results to ensure they are tested and quarantined.

Western said all the students are quarantined off-campus, along with some who have been in close contact “out of abundance of caution.”

“Those students who have tested positive are isolating outside of residence. We are delivering them meals, and our staff are in regular contact to ensure students are well supported,” Chris Alleyne, associate vice-president of housing, said.

All students living at London Hall are being notified.

Post-secondary school students in London were asked by public-health officials to remain here over the Thanksgiving weekend, rather than travelling to their hometowns and risking COVID-19 transmission between communities. It’s unclear how many Western and Fanshawe College students followed that advice.

Western students and faculty can be tested at the school’s COVID-19 testing centre, in the student recreation centre, but it doesn’t re-open until Tuesday morning.

mstacey@postmedia.com

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Alberta challenged by dueling narratives over COVID-19: Hinshaw – rdnewsnow.com

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The chief medical officer of health said we can’t live in fear and terror of the virus for months but also can’t abandon efforts to protect the most vulnerable and ensure the health system can continue to meet all Albertans’ health needs.

Hinshaw is asking Albertans to respect COVID-19 and says it “is not just the flu.”

She said it is a novel virus that can overwhelm the health system and weaken essential services.

“Respecting COVID-19 means taking public health advice seriously by taking care of ourselves and communities by taking steps to prevent transmission.”

She also asked for respectful dialogue with those who have different opinions, saying solutions will be found by working together.

Hinshaw reiterated a balance must be found between minimizing the risk of COVID-19 and the harms of restrictions needed to keep the spread manageable.

“We have now crossed a tipping point and are losing the balance we have been seeking,” she warned.

The total number of COVID-19 cases across the province stands at 25,733. There are 3,138 4,477 active cases, up 826 from Friday, and 20,949 recovered cases, up 639.

Red Deer added 14 cases over the weekend and is up to 174. The city has 39 active cases as of Monday.

(With file from Chris Brown – CHAT News Today)

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Mandatory mask bylaw activated as Wood Buffalo hits 51 active COVID-19 cases – Fort McMurray Today

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A sign outside the Superstore in downtown Fort McMurray telling customers about the store’s mask policy on Sept. 13, 2020. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network

SunMedia

The municipality’s mandatory mask bylaw has been activated after Wood Buffalo hit 51 active COVID-19 cases over the weekend. According to Alberta Health, 44 active cases are in Fort McMurray and seven active cases are in Wood Buffalo’s rural areas.

For 30 days, masks will be mandatory inside all indoor public spaces. The bylaw will not be lifted if the region remains over that limit. The bylaw was passed by council on Oct. 13.

A first offence will cost $100, with $200 for subsequent offences. This includes harassing or intimidating someone not wearing a mask due to a valid exemption. Businesses refusing to display signage will be fined $200. Frequent offenders could be fined up to $10,000, depending on the severity of the offence.

The bylaw does not apply to:

  • Anyone eating, drinking or exercising
  • Children under five-years-old
  • Anyone attending or leading religious services, although some religious organizations require worshippers to wear masks
  • Anyone needing to remove a mask to receive a service (for instance, dental work)
  • Caregivers, but only if a mask hurts their ability to care for anyone with a disability
  • Anyone needing physical assistance wearing masks

Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced at a Monday press conference that Alberta Health Services is contacting event organizers if a positive case attended the event. The organizer will forward the information within 24 hours to attendees.

The change is due to pressure put on AHS’ contact tracers because of the sudden rise in COVID-19 cases. Hinshaw said AHS is recruiting more people.

Hinshaw was also asked her thoughts on the sudden wildcat strike from Alberta health care workers that began Monday morning. Delivery of care is not part of her role, she said. However, Hinshaw said patient care could be impacted by the absence of striking workers and staff in COVID-19 quarantine.

“I know Alberta Health Services is working very hard to ensure that COVID precautions are in place, and that continues and whether or not they have to adjust the services that are provided,” she said.

Hinshaw also said private social gatherings in Edmonton and Calgary are now limited to 15 people. This includes birthday parties, house warming parties, wedding and funeral receptions, and retirement parties.

The measure does apply to wedding and funeral ceremonies, worship services, theatres or restaurants.

“Our best hope to avoid needing any further restrictions and to keep businesses recovering and the health system readily available is for all of us to go the extra mile,” said Hinshaw. “I know this is difficult. COVID-19 is a marathon not a sprint and Albertans have been sacrificing and working hard for many months now. But the warning bell is ringing and I want all of us to hear it’s call.”

Provincial COVID-19 updates for October 26:

  • A total of 25,733 people have been infected with the virus. The earliest known COVID-19 case in Alberta was detected in a blood sample collected on Feb. 24. The first case was announced on March 5.
  • Of those cases, 20,949 people have recovered, or roughly 81.4 per cent of all cases. There were 639 new recoveries since Friday.
  • There were 1,440 new cases reported since Friday, bringing the active total to 4,477. There were 364 cases reported on Oct. 23, 572 on Oct. 24, and 504 on Oct. 25.
  • There are 118 cases hospitalized, with 16 people fighting the virus in intensive care units.
  • There have been seven new deaths related to COVID-19, bringing Alberta’s total at 307.
  • 46,139 tests for COVID-19 were completed since Friday. There were 16,367 tests completed on Oct. 23, 17,106 on Oct. 24, and 12,666 on Oct. 25.
  • To date, 1,744,042 tests for COVID-19 have been carried out on 1,245,294 people.

COVID-19 in Fort McMurray:

  • There were four new recoveries in Fort McMurray since Friday, bringing total recoveries to 298 since the first case was reported in the city on March 19.
  • There were 11 new active cases in Fort McMurray since Friday, bringing the known total to 34.
  • Masks in public spaces will become mandatory once the Wood Buffalo region records 50 active cases of COVID-19.
  • There has been one death related to COVID-19 in Fort McMurray reported since Sept. 8.

COVID-19 in rural areas:

  • One new COVID-19 case was recorded in Wood Buffalo’s rural areas, bringing the total active cases to seven.
  • There were no new recoveries in Wood Buffalo’s rural areas since Friday, keeping the total to 64 recoveries.
  • AHS has not confirmed which rural communities had active COVID-19 cases, only community leaders have.
  • Fort McKay’s First Nation and Métis leaders have made it mandatory to wear masks in the community.
  • Masks in public spaces will become mandatory once the Wood Buffalo region records 50 active cases of COVID-19.
  • There have been no deaths related to COVID-19 in the RMWB’s rural areas.

Local COVID-19 cases and outbreaks at schools

  • Information on school outbreaks can be found online from Alberta Health Services. No school in Wood Buffalo has been ordered to close.
  • On Oct. 22, a positive COVID-19 case has been reported in relation to Sister Mary Phillips School. The school has not be classified an outbreak by AHS and remains open.
  • An outbreak is declared when five people at a public site, such as a workplace, test positive for COVID-19. At continuing care centres and schools, the number is two.
  • An outbreak is over when no new COVID-19 cases have been reported after 30 days.

Local COVID-19 workplace outbreaks:

  • Information on workplace outbreaks can be found online from Alberta Health Services.
  • An outbreak at Syncrude’s Mildred Lake site was declared on Sept. 3 when 11 workers tested positive for the virus.
  • An outbreak at Suncor’s base plant was declared on Sept. 4 after five workers tested positive for the virus.
  • An outbreak at Canadian Natural’s Horizon site has been declared.
  • An outbreak is declared when five people at a public site, such as a workplace, test positive for COVID-19. At continuing care centres and schools, the number is two.
  • An outbreak is over when no new COVID-19 cases have been reported after 30 days.

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Record 1440 new COVID cases in Alberta this weekend

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To combat the surge in cases in the province’s two largest cities, a new mandatory 15-person limit is in effect on all social gatherings in the City of Calgary and City of Edmonton.

The South Health Zone saw another 73 cases this weekend with 37 in Lethbridge, 10 in Lethbridge County, nine in Brooks, five in the County of Warner, three in the County of Newell, two in the M.D. of Taber, and one each in Cardston County, County of Forty Mile, Cypress County, and the Crowsnest Pass.

255 infections are currently active in the South Health Zone including 161 in Lethbridge.

“We have now crossed a tipping point and are losing the balance we are seeking,” warned Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw.

To deal with the influx of cases in the Edmonton Zone, up to 30 per cent of non-urgent surgeries in the area are being postponed until further notice.

Seven additional COVID-19 deaths were confirmed with four in the Edmonton Zone and three in the Calgary Zone. 307 Albertans have lost their lives as a result of the virus.

“I don’t ask that you fear COVID-19 but that you respect it. COVID is a novel disease that is not just the flu. It has the ability to overwhelm our health system and weaken essential services if we let it do so. Respecting COVID-19 means taking public health advice seriously and taking care, not only of ourselves but also our communities by preventing transmission.”

Provincially, 118 patients are currently hospitalized and 16 have been admitted to intensive care units.

1,744,042 tests have been completed among 1,245,294 different Albertans.

More details to come.

The regional breakdown for COVID-19 in Alberta is as follows:

  • Calgary zone – 11,345 cases, 1,549 active
    • 139 deaths (three new)
    • 42 in hospital, three in ICU
  • Edmonton zone – 9,210 cases, 2,179 active
    • 98 deaths (four new)
    • 62 in hospital, eight in ICU
  • South zone – 2,268 cases, 255 active
    • 27 deaths
    • Seven in hospital, three in ICU
  • North zone – 1,891 cases, 311 active
    • 35 deaths
    • Four in hospital, two in ICU
  • Central zone – 953 cases, 162 active
    • Eight deaths
    • Three in hospital

The breakdown for the South Health Zone by community is as follows:

  • Brooks – 1,162 cases (nine new), 30 active, nine deaths
  • Lethbridge – 452 cases (37 new), 161 active, two deaths
    • West Lethbridge – 166 cases (11 new), 50 active, one death
    • South Lethbridge – 148 cases (11 new), 50 active
    • North Lethbridge – 138 cases (16 new), 61 active, one death
  • Lethbridge County – 129 cases (10 new), 23 active, one death
  • Cardston County – 108 cases (one new), four active, five deaths
  • Medicine Hat – 90 cases (one new), six active, two deaths
  • County of Warner – 71 cases (five new), six active, one death
  • M.D. of Taber – 50 cases (two new), six active
  • County of Forty Mile – 45 cases (one new), three active
  • County of Newell – 42 cases (three new), seven active, two deaths
  • Cypress County – 38 cases (one new), five active
  • Fort Macleod – 33 cases, zero active, three deaths
  • M.D. of Pincher Creek – 27 cases, zero active, two deaths
  • Crowsnest Pass – Three cases (one new), one active

Source: – Lethbridge News Now

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