Unfortunately, new and active COVID-19 case counts continue to climb to new heights in B.C.
There are also two new healthcare outbreaks, six flights and two Metro Vancouver stores confirmed cases, and 10 schools have reported cases.
Meanwhile, a new and more comfortable means of collecting test samples is being introduced in B.C. for children.
At a news conference in Vancouver, B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced some unfortunate news: B.C. set a new record with 165 new cases today (which includes two epi-linked cases). The previous high was 139 cases on September 10.
The number of active cases continues to ascend. At the moment, there are 1,705 active cases (up 91 cases from yesterday’s 1,614 active cases), which is also a new record.
Hospitalized cases are slightly down to 57 people today in hospital (three less patients than yesterday), with 22 of those patients in intensive care units (one less than yesterday).
Of these patients, B.C. Health Minister Dix said that there are 26 in Vancouver Coastal Health, 23 in Fraser Health, seven in Northern Health, and one in Island Health.
The number of people being monitored by public health also continues to decrease—down from 2,966 people yesterday to 2,949 people today.
Unfortunately, one new death was announced, bringing the total number of fatalities to 220 people who have died from COVID-19-related causes during the pandemic.
A total of 5,719 people have recovered from the virus.
During the pandemic, B.C. has recorded a cumulative total of 7,663 cases, which includes 3,937 cases in Fraser Health, 2,714 cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, 489 in Interior Health, 241 in Northern Health, 196 in Island Health, and 85 people who live outside Canada.
Unfortunately, there are two new healthcare outbreaks. Both are in acute care units in Fraser Health, one at Delta Hospital and the other at Peace Arch Hospital in White Rock.
Fraser Health declared the Delta Hospital outbreak on September 16, stating that two patients tested positive in one unit, which has been temporarily closed to admissions. Enhanced cleaning and contact tracing is underway.
Accordingly, there are 16 active outbreaks in healthcare (11 in longterm care facilities and five in acute care facilities), with a total cumulative number of 802 cases (478 residents and 324 staff) involved in healthcare outbreaks during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Dix also said that B.C. conducted a record number of tests during the pandemic on September 16: a total of 7,674 tests.
Loblaw has reported two of its stores in the Lower Mainland have staff who have tested positive.
An employee who tested positive last worked at the Westgate Centre location of Shoppers Drug Mart (20395 Lougheed Higway) in Maple Ridge on September 3.
Meanwhile, a staff member at the Real Canadian Superstore (7559 King George Highway) in Surrey, who tested positive, last worked there on September 11.
The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) has added two international and four domestic flights confirmed with COVID-19:
September 11: Aeromexico 696, from Mexico City to Vancouver;
September 11: Lufthansa 492, from Frankfurt to Vancouver;
September 11: Air Canada 8328, from Vancouver to Winnipeg;
September 11: WestJet 133, from Calgary to Vancouver;
September 12: WestJet 711, Toronto to Vancouver;
September 13: WestJet 711, Toronto to Vancouver.
For affected row information, visit the BCCDC webpage for public exposures.
Anyone at these locations or on these flights should monitor themselves for 14 days after the date of visit or flight date. If you develop symptoms, immediately self-isolate and contact 811 for testing information.
As announced yesterday, provincial health authorities have begun reporting potential exposure incidents at schools.
Fraser Health reported eight exposure events in schools.
One was at an exposure incident at Delta Secondary on September 11.
Two were at private schools: Khalsa School (elementary school at Old Yale Road location) on September 1 and 4, and Khalsa Secondary School in Surrey on September 9 and 10.
Five incidents were at public schools in Surrey:
Johnson Height Secondary from September 8 to 11;
Panorama Ridge Secondary on September 8;
Sullivan Heights Secondary on September 8;
William Watson Elementary on September 10;
Princess Margaret Secondary on September 11.
Interior Health listed Stanley Humphries Secondary School in Castlegar had one student on September 11 who has tested positive.
Northern Health listed École Frank Ross Elementary in Dawson Creek with an exposure event from September 10 to 11.
There weren’t any exposure incidents at schools reported in Island Health or Vancouver Coastal Health.
A new made-in-B.C. method of collecting samples for testing—one of the first of its kind in the world—is being introduced for testing school-aged children.
As an alternative to collecting samples from the nose with swabs, children and youth swish and gargle sterile salt water before spitting it into a tube, or by using a swab to collect a sample from their nose.
The nose swab is used for younger children or those who are unable to follow the swish, gargle, and spit instructions.
The BCCDC adds that children can practice at home how to swish, gargle, and spit.
Henry said that this new method will be more efficient because it doesn’t take as long to do as the nasal swab test.
However, due to limited supplies, she said they are focussing on children because “we know right now it’s going to be very critical for children if they start showing symptoms of COVID-19 and they’re in a school setting, many of them will need to get tested so it’s a way to try and facilitate that and make that easier right now.”
She said that this collection method needs to be done at a health centre assessment centre. In addition, she explained that the test itself remains the same but this is a different means of collecting samples.
On Oct. 8, Quebec introduced new public health measures for regions under the province’s highest COVID-19 alert level, shuttering gyms, putting limits on team sports and making masks mandatory for high school students.
Last week, Legault hinted that some red zone restrictions would remain in place even as the initial 28-day lockdown in Montreal and Quebec City come to an end on Wednesday.
Legault, Health Minister Christian Dubé and Dr. Horacio Arruda, Quebec’s director of public health, are to hold a news conference this afternoon.
2:08 Quebec gym owners, athletes in COVID-19 red zones brace for 2nd shutdown
Quebec gym owners, athletes in COVID-19 red zones brace for 2nd shutdown
A coalition of Quebec gyms, yoga studios and other recreational activity centres are threatening to reopen at the end of the week, even if the province extends the 28-day partial lockdown.
Such facilities have been closed since Oct. 8, as part of a series of measures imposed by the government to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Premier François Legault has scheduled a news conference for 5 p.m. today, where he is expected to extend many of the measures imposed earlier this month in red zones.
Owners of fitness facilities say they have spent thousands of dollars to ensure their locations are safe and that their clients depend on exercise to keep physically and mentally healthy.
In a statement issued Monday, the group — which says it numbers more than 200 — says they will reopen Oct. 29 regardless of what the government decides.
“All the sanitary measures in force will be respected,” the statement said.
“If the government by then can prove to us, through studies, that we are the source of the outbreak, we will reverse it.”
Question of mental and physical health, owners say
Dan Marino and Christian Ménard, two of the men representing the coalition, both have shared social media posts publicly that provide misleading information about COVID-19.
For example, Marino has shared posts on his Facebook page that question the effectiveness of masks and minimize the dangers of the novel coronavirus. Ménard has asked people to sign a petition against Quebec’s mandatory mask law.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Marino said It would be unacceptable for gyms to stay closed.
“I have heard from too many people who are in distress,” said Marino who owns Mega Fitness Gym in Quebec CIty. “It’s mental and physical health.”
Dany Laflamme, owner of Nova Gym, a martial arts centre in Quebec City, said customers are calling every day.
“It’s truly sad. My customers are my family,” he said.
The Canadian provinces hardest hit by the global COVID-19 pandemic released sobering numbers on Sunday, with Quebec’s overall case count passing the 100,000 mark and Ontario registering more than 1,000 single-day cases for the first time since the start of the worldwide outbreak.
Despite registering comparable daily tallies, the two provinces long at the epicentre of Canada’s COVID-19 outbreak appeared to be on opposite trajectories.
Public health experts noted that Quebec’s long-standing high case counts appeared to be levelling off, while stressing the week ahead will be crucial to bring Ontario’s surging numbers back under control.
Quebec health officials reported 879 new cases, bringing the province’s total to 100,114 infections. The province also recorded 11 additional deaths attributed to the virus, for a total of 6,143.
“Comparing the past two weeks, we see that the number of cases is stable, but remains high,” Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube said on Twitter, urging people to make an effort to reduce transmission of the virus.
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The province’s recent COVID-19 numbers are more encouraging than they were last month, however, said Helene Carabin, a professor at Universite de Montreal.
Carabin said Quebec’s COVID-19 reproduction number, which measures the virus’ ability to spread, is slowly creeping lower — a positive sign that indicates people are following public health guidelines.
“The population has clearly understood that in order to limit transmission, we have to be more careful,” she said in an interview.
“We’re going in the right direction, unlike what was the case in September. Now what it tells us is that probably we will continue to have to keep being very careful during the winter months for it not to creep up.”
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s top public health officer, said in a statement Sunday that a “resurgence” of COVID-19 continues across the country.
Tam said there is a concern that Canada has not yet seen the full impact of the recent increase in COVID-19 cases, as hospitalizations and deaths generally lag behind case numbers.
Quebec’s COVID-19 cases leveling off but this week will be crucial to bring Ontario’s surging numbers back under control. #COVID-19 #Ontario #Quebec
Canada had 215,879 total cases of COVID-19 as of Sunday, including 9,940 deaths.
Manitoba announced 161 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday and the deaths of four people — two of which were related to an outbreak at a Winnipeg long-term care home where 17 people have now died.
Saskatchewan reported 60 new cases, down from its record-high of 78 that was set on Saturday, and no new deaths have been reported since Oct. 11.
Public health officials in Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case of COVID-19, while officials in New Brunswick reported two new infections and two additional deaths.
In Ontario, which recorded more than 1,000 new cases in a 24-hour period on Sunday for the first time since the pandemic took hold, at least one medical expert voiced concerns about the overall trend of the provincial figures.
The province reported 1,042 new COVID-19 cases, breaking the previous day’s single-day peak of 978 new infections. It also reported seven new deaths related to the novel coronavirus.
“Obviously no one wants to see 1,000 new cases per day,” said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist and researcher at Toronto General Hospital.
Bogoch said that while the cause of the recent spike is not entirely clear, the week ahead will offer a critical window for assessing the province’s progress in combatting the pandemic.
“Are we going to start to see a plateau in these numbers, reflective of a successful policy implementation in the hotspots in Ontario,” Bogoch asked, referring to major metropolitan regions where the bulk of the province’s latest cases have been concentrated.
“Or will we see a continuing growth in the number of new cases per day?”
Both Ontario and Quebec have reimposed restrictions over the past several weeks to try to contain the spread of the virus during the second wave of the pandemic.
Several regions of Quebec, including Montreal and Quebec City, were placed under the highest COVID-19 alert level, which forced the closure of bars and other public venues.
Quebecers in high-risk areas have also been told to avoid seeing anyone who does not live in their household.
In Ontario, Premier Doug Ford has promised to provide an update on Monday on whether the Halton and Durham regions would join Toronto, Peel, Ottawa and York in “modified Stage 2” of the province’s economic reopening plan.
Indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people in Stage 2 regions, and gyms, casinos, cinemas and other venues in those areas must also be closed.
Public health officials across Canada have urged people to be extra vigilant during the second wave of the pandemic, as colder weather pushes people indoors.
In her statement, Tam said influenza and other respiratory infections place an added strain on hospitals in the fall and winter months, making it even more important to heed preventative measures.
“Right now, doing the best thing to keep our family, friends and community safer means keeping safely apart,” she said.
On Sunday, 278 people were hospitalized in Ontario due to the virus, including 79 in intensive care. In Quebec, 551 hospitalizations were recorded, of which 97 were in intensive care.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 25, 2020.
–with files from Holly McKenzie-Sutter in Toronto, Rob Drinkwater in Edmonton and Michael MacDonald in Halifax.
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