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As countries around the world start re-imposing coronavirus restrictions amid spikes in new cases, Canadian politicians and health officials are warning that parts of the country may soon enter a second shutdown.
However, infectious disease physician Dr. Zain Chagla says the second lockdown will not look like the first.
“We’re very different than we were in March, we had no clue how deep this was going to spread into our communities, there was hospital issues in terms of health care utilization, and we really had limited testing and didn’t really understand where this disease was transmitted within our community,” Chagla explained in an interview with CTV’s Your Morning on Thursday.
“So we had to really do something very global to get things to work.”
Now, Chagla said provincial health authorities have a better grasp on what measures work in mitigating the risk of COVID-19.
While Canada’s case numbers are rising, Chagla said the country has access to reasonable testing, healthcare systems aren’t currently overloaded and both the public and officials understand that private, indoor gatherings are largely contributing to the spread of the virus.
He added that having these factors under control gives Canada the opportunity to thoughtfully prepare for a second wave and another possible shutdown.
“We have the luxury of sitting here and actually making some very precise changes to see if we can keep transmission down afterwards, rather than putting everyone through what we did in March and April,” Chagla said.
To avoid a repeat scenario, he explained that policymakers need to keep COVID-19 messaging positive and consistent, plan creative long-term solutions for outdoor facilities, and closely monitor allowable gathering sizes.
“We’re going to have ebbs and flows but these sorts of solutions, what we’re going to be doing for the months and going into the winter and even further than that, are going to have to be sustainable and so that’s where the positive messaging comes from,” Chagla said.
Chagla added that there is a misconception about who is transmitting the virus. He says “there’s a big thought” that recent spikes are all young people that are partying together but in reality, “it’s still families that are having get-togethers” such as weddings and other celebrations where the virus is spreading.
“All of us kind of need to be messaged positively to say ‘OK, [COVID-19] is still here. We can protect our communities. We can do things safely’,” he said.
To help with this, Chagla said outdoor facilities and restaurants need to be better equipped to allow Canadians to safely socialize especially as the country heads into the winter months.
“Making more outdoor facilities gives us the recognition that we need to socialize. We need to actually be around people and there is a way to do it safely with a few more layers, but sparing what’s going to happen to the medical system,” Chagla said.
Additionally, Chagla said policymakers should not impede Canadians’ ability to get tested, but also not encourage over-testing.
As long lines are being reported at COVID-19 testing centres across the country, the federal government has pledged billions in funding to address the issue and improve other pandemic measures.
Infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch told CTV News Channel that the testing wait times stem from a combination of factors, including limited testing capacity and an increased desire from the population to receive a test.
Bogoch said in an interview on Thursday that these factors need to be addressed amid the current rise in cases.
“The capacity currently is significantly better than what it was in for example March or April of this year, but clearly it’s not where it needs to be,” he said.
New testing centres have recently opened in Edmonton and Laval, Que. while another is slated to open soon in Brampton, Ont. However, Bogoch said this still might not be enough.
To address the capacity issue, Bogoch said provinces may have to change their messaging around testing.
“Given the snapshot that we’re in right now, maybe it’s best for messaging to focus on people to get tested if they’re either at risk for getting this infection, if they have any signs or symptoms of infection regardless of how mild, or if they’ve had any possible exposures to this infection,” Bogoch explained.
“Certainly those individuals should be prioritized, but in the same breath of course, you shouldn’t be turned away from a testing centre,” he added.
Amid the testing issues, Chagla says monitoring gathering sizes remains key in managing Canada’s recent COVID-19 spikes.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford is expected to announce that the province will lower limits on social gatherings in its hotspots to stem recent increases in COVID-19 cases. Ford said that the “highest fines in the country” will be put in place to stop people from breaking the regulations but Chagla says the move does not go far enough.
“I think that’s a good symbolic gesture, but there does need to be some enforcement unfortunately for some of these people that take things out of control and lead to a significant public health event,” Chagla said.
Bogoch told CTV News Channel that rolling back gathering limits in Ontario’s hotspots is the “right move.”
“We clearly can’t continue on at the status quo, and there clearly needs to be measures to limit transmission, especially in Toronto, Peel and Ottawa. That’s a smart move,” Bogoch said in an interview on Thursday.
He added that the province will see some benefit from the rollback, if the implementation of the new gathering limits are clearly communicated and enforced.
While Ontario rolls back its gathering limit, Bogoch said other provinces experiencing outbreaks should follow suit.
“We’re seeing widespread community transmission in four provinces. Clearly, we need to clamp back down to get this virus under control,” he said.
“What does clamp down mean? It’s not entirely clear. Different provinces are taking different steps, but it’s obvious that we need to take action now to prevent these cases from rising.”
Last week in Quebec, the government said police can hand out tickets, ranging between $400 and $6,000, to those who don’t have a face covering in indoor public spaces or on public transit.
The province also announced several measures in addition to the fines, including the banning of karaoke and obliging bars to keep registers of clients as infection numbers rise.
In response to its increase in cases, B.C. ordered the immediate closure of nightclubs and banquet halls and reduced restaurant hours last week after daily COVID-19 case numbers were consistently above 100.
“I think we need to all start rethinking about what we need to do to get us through the next few months as a community together, and these are some of the things that we’ll need to put aside for now,” B.C. health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry explained at a news conference.
Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam reminded Canadians at a press conference on Tuesday to take precautionary measures if they must socialize, including having hand sanitizer readily available, wearing masks or other face coverings, and cleaning common areas before and after the event.
“The key message is that the time to act is now across the board in terms of reducing some of the contacts you’ve had over the summer months,” Tam said.
Trudeau says pandemic 'sucks' as COVID-19 compliance slips and cases spike – CBC.ca
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today he understands that Canadians are increasingly frustrated by “annoying” measures designed to curb the spread of COVID-19, but he’s urging people to stay the course as cases continue to climb in some parts of the country.
Canada is in the grips of a second pandemic wave. Some provinces — notably Alberta, B.C., Ontario, Manitoba and Quebec — are now seeing case counts larger than those reported in the spring, at the onset of the pandemic.
“This sucks, it really, really does,” Trudeau told a COVID-19 press briefing this morning. “It’s going to be a tough winter. It’s easy for us to want to throw up our hands … it’s frustrating to have to go through this situation.
“Nobody wanted 2020 to be this way, but we do get to control how bad it gets by all of us doing our part.”
Trudeau said Canadians must get this latest pandemic wave under control or risk putting their Christmas festivities in jeopardy.
“Unless we’re really, really careful, there may not be the kinds of family gatherings we want to have at Christmas,” he said.
After a summer lull, the death count in Canada has also started to climb. Hospitalizations and the number of people in intensive care units (ICUs) remain at manageable levels in most regions, despite the cresting caseload.
Some Toronto-area hospitals are nearing 100 per cent capacity as they grapple with both COVID-19 cases and other patients.
Data indicates that younger, healthier people — who are more likely to recover without medical intervention — are driving the COVID-19 spike during this round of the pandemic.
Dr. Howard Njoo, the deputy chief public health officer, said there’s no doubt that Canadians are tired of the restrictions that have upended their social and economic lives for the better part of eight months.
“What we’re seeing around the world is people are suffering from COVID fatigue,” Njoo said.
Another full lockdown is not necessary at this point, he said.
“We want to get back to as normal as possible, the functioning of society,” he said, adding Canada needs to find the “sweet spot” where new cases of COVID-19 don’t threaten to overwhelm the health care system.
Asked if governments bear any responsibility for conflicting messages from federal and provincial leaders and local public health officials about how Canadians should go about their daily lives during the pandemic, Trudeau said the situation on the ground in the provinces and territories varies greatly and does not demand national uniformity.
WATCH: Trudeau questioned about public confusion over pandemic messaging
Trudeau said Ottawa is not intent on plunging the country into another shutdown — and the country is better equipped to handle this wave than it was in March and April.
“We have a better understanding of COVID-19. We have better tools to deal with COVID-19 and we can be a little more targeted but, yeah, that means a little more complication in our messages,” Trudeau said.
“It’s frustrating to see friends at the other end of the country doing things you’d love to be able to do but you can’t.”
Trudeau said that when his six-year-old son Hadrien recently asked him if COVID-19 would with us “forever,” he assured him the pandemic would end — but its impact will depend on Canadians doing their part in the short term by wearing masks wherever possible, keeping a two-metre distance from others and avoiding large social gatherings altogether.
“We need to do the right thing, we need to lean on each other, we need to use all the tools that we can,” he said.
Trudeau sounded a positive note today, too, saying that Canada has placed orders for tens of millions of possible vaccine candidates. He said pharmaceutical companies are developing promising treatments.
“Vaccines are on the horizon. Spring and summer will come and they will be better than this winter,” he said.
All told, the federal government has secured 358 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines — an insurance policy if some of the vaccines in development prove to be ineffective in clinical trials.
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world Tuesday – CBC.ca
People in British Columbia and Alberta’s two largest cities are facing tighter restrictions around some social gatherings after an uptick in COVID-19 cases.
Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Monday that while she has often spoken about the need to “balance between minimizing the risk of COVID-19 and minimizing the risk of harms of restrictions,” the province is now “losing the balance we have been seeking.”
The temporary measure, which caps attendance at 15 for events where people will be “mixing and mingling” like parties and baby showers, applies in the Calgary and Edmonton areas.
Alberta has reported a total of 25,733 cases since the pandemic began, with 4,477 of those listed as active cases. As of Sunday, health officials reported 118 people were being treated in Alberta hospitals, with 16 of those patients in ICU beds.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer in British Columbia, also placed restrictions on gatherings on Monday, with a focus on events in people’s homes. Henry said gatherings are now limited to people in an immediate household, plus their so-called “safe six” guests.
WATCH | Dr. Bonnie Henry said mask-wearing is expected in public in B.C.:
“This is a bit of a sobering weekend for us,” she said after provincial health officials reported 817 new cases since Friday.
B.C. has reported a total of 13,371 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began, with 2,325 of the cases considered active. The most recent information from health officials said 77 people were in hospital with 26 in intensive care.
What’s happening across Canada
As of 7 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Canada had 220,213 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 184,303 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 9,973.
Manitoba’s provincial public health officer also urged people to avoid gathering in large groups, saying many of the 100 new cases reported in the province on Monday linked back to social gatherings — including Thanksgiving.
Dr. Brent Roussin said if the province’s trajectory continues, health officials expect to have a total of more than 5,000 cases by the end of the week. The province had 4,349 cases as of Monday, with 2,117 considered active. There were 80 people in hospital, with 15 in intensive care.
WATCH | Manitoba frustrated by rise in COVID-19 cases:
Roussin wasn’t the only Manitoba official with words of warning. Premier Brian Pallister expressed frustration on Monday at people with too many close contacts as cases increase.
“Grow up and stop going out there and giving people COVID,” the premier said.
Saskatchewan reported 54 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing the total number of reported cases in the province to 2,783, with 650 of those considered active cases.
In Ontario, a region west of Toronto is waiting for word on whether tougher measures will be imposed by the province as part of the effort to fight COVID-19. Dr. David Williams, the province’s chief medical officer, said while neither he nor Halton Region’s local medical officer are ready to make a decision on tighter measures for the area, they will be watching case counts and other metrics closely in the coming days.
Quebec Premier François Legault moved Monday to extend restrictions on people living in so-called red zones until Nov. 23, saying daily COVID-19 case numbers and deaths are still too high to allow an easing of limits in places like Montreal and Quebec City.
WATCH | How health authorities are trying to balance restrictions and COVID-19 caseloads:
In Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick reported three new cases on Monday, bringing the total number of active cases in the province to 60. Health officials in both Nova Scotia and Newfoundland reported one new case, while there were no new cases reported in Prince Edward Island.
There were two new cases reported in Yukon on Monday, and a mine in Nunavut reported that two workers who had been reported as presumptive cases were confirmed as positive for COVID-19. The workers were flown to their home province of Quebec and instructed to self-isolate.
What’s happening around the world
A case count maintained by Johns Hopkins University put the number of COVID-19 cases around the world at over 43.5 million as of Tuesday morning with over 29.2 million cases considered recovered. The Baltimore, Md.-based institution’s count of deaths stood at more than 1.1 million.
In the Americas, the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the United States is at a two-month high, straining health-care systems in some states.
The White House said on Tuesday it saw a potential deal on COVID-19 stimulus funding in “coming weeks,” casting doubt on whether a deal could be struck with Congress before the Nov. 3 election. A spokesperson for Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday that she was hopeful an agreement could be reached ahead of the election, but noted that there were still major issues that needed to be addressed.
In the Asia-Pacific region, China reported the highest number of asymptomatic infections in nearly seven months. China detected 137 new asymptomatic coronavirus cases on Sunday in Kashgar in the northwestern region of Xinjiang after one person was found to have the virus the previous day — the first local new cases in 10 days in mainland China.
Hong Kong announced it would reopen public beaches and increase the number of people allowed to sit together in bars and restaurants starting Friday as the city continues to unwind strict COVID-19 rules put in place in July.
In India, authorities reported 36,470 newly confirmed coronavirus infections. That’s the lowest one-day tally in more than three months in a continuing downward trend. In its report Tuesday, the country’s health ministry also listed 488 new fatalities from COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours, raising the overall death toll to 119,502.
The case number reported Tuesday is the lowest since India had 35,065 newly confirmed infections on July 17. Last month, the country hit a peak of nearly 100,000 cases in a single day, but daily infections have been decreasing since then.
In Europe, many governments prepared on Tuesday to introduce new restrictions to try to curb a growing surge of coronavirus infections across the continent and provide economic balm to help businesses survive the pandemic.
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets across Italy on Monday to vent their anger at the latest round of restrictions, including early closing for bars and restaurants, with demonstrations in some cities turning violent.
In neighbouring France, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin warned the country to prepare for “difficult decisions” after some of the strictest restrictions currently in place anywhere in Europe have failed to halt the spread of the disease.
South Africa remained the hardest hit country in Africa, with more than 716,000 recorded COVID-19 cases and more than 19,000 deaths according to the Africa CDC.
People in Iran, the hardest-hit country in the Middle East, faced new daily records of infections and deaths. Authorities have ordered residents in Tehran to wear masks in public, and many public sector workers in the capital have been told to stay home every second day.
Canada adds 2,531 new coronavirus cases, but new data shows record weekend surge
Canada reported another 2,531 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus Monday, but new data from over the weekend reveals the country posted a far higher number a day earlier — shattering the daily record.
Backdated cases reported Monday by Alberta and British Columbia, who take weekends off from announcing testing data, show Sunday’s true total of new cases nationwide was 3,004.
It’s the first time over 3,000 cases have been reported in a single day across the country.
Saturday’s true daily total was nearly as high, at 2,932 new confirmed infections.
To date, Canada has reported 219,982 cases of COVID-19, although 184,306 of those patients have recovered from the disease.
Over 11.2 million tests have been performed to date. The weekend testing data shows an average three per cent positivity rate each day among new tests performed.
The national death toll has risen to 9,973, after 27 new deaths were reported Monday. Some of those deaths are historical, including in Quebec, while the deaths reported by Alberta and B.C. date occurred between Friday and Monday.
Alberta and British Columbia both set new records over the weekend, their data revealed on Monday. While Alberta surpassed 500 daily cases for the first time on Sunday, the previous day saw B.C. break a new threshold of over 300 cases.
Alberta reported another 504 new cases for Monday alone, bringing the province’s total to 25,733. Its death toll climbed to 307 after seven deaths over the weekend, while 20,949 patients have recovered.
“Alberta, we have a challenge,” chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said while announcing the new numbers.
“We have now crossed a tipping point and are losing the balance we have been seeking,” she added.
British Columbia’s public health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry called her own province’s weekend numbers “sobering.” She also announced new limits on social gatherings, including inside private homes.
“We have seen a notable increase in transmission of COVID-19 as a direct result of social gatherings in private homes,” she said.
“To get through our COVID-19 storm it requires all of us to do our part.”
There were 207 new cases confirmed in B.C. Monday, for a new total of 13,140 lab-confirmed cases. An additional 231 “epidemiologically linked” cases have not been confirmed through testing, but are part of the province’s grand total.
Three new deaths were reported over the weekend, taking the death toll to 259, and 10,734 recoveries have been confirmed to date.
Heading east, Saskatchewan reported 54 new cases and no new deaths. The province has seen 2,783 cases with 2,108 recoveries to date, while the death toll remains at 25.
Manitoba saw another 100 new cases, while an additional death was reported for a total of 55. There have now been 4,349 cases so far, yet 2,177 of those patients have recovered.
Ontario announced another 851 new cases — Monday’s highest provincial total — and six more deaths, bringing the province’s count to 71,224 cases and 3,099 deaths. A total of 60,839 people have recovered from the virus.
In Quebec, 808 new cases were reported along with 10 new deaths, although only two of them occurred over the past 24 hours. The province has seen 100,922 cases, 6,153 deaths and 85,822 recoveries to date.
Nearly every Atlantic province reported at least one new case on Monday, with no new deaths in the region. Prince Edward Island, which has seen 64 cases to date with only one active case remaining, has not reported data since Friday.
New Brunswick announced three new cases for a total of 331 to date. Six people have died to date in the province, while 265 have recovered
Nova Scotia saw one new case, bringing its total to 1,101 infections. Out of those, 65 have died and 1,031 others are considered recovered.
One new case was also reported in Newfoundland and Labrador, which has now seen 291 cases and four deaths to date, with 282 recoveries.
In the territories, the Yukon added two new cases to its total, which now sits at 22. Fifteen of those cases have recovered, while no deaths have been reported to date.
The Northwest Territories has seen nine cases to date, yet all but one of them have recovered. No cases were announced Monday.
Nunavut remains free of local coronavirus cases, although several infections have been confirmed among out-of-territory workers at a pair of local mines. Officials say those are not considered local cases and have been counted by their home jurisdictions.
The new surge in coronavirus cases across the country comes as the federal government comes under scrutiny for its spending amid the pandemic.
Opposition MPs on Monday voted for a motion approving a parliamentary probe of government contracts for supplies, remedies and vaccine candidates. The Liberal government argued revealing the sensitive contracts could jeopardize future deals.
Worldwide, the novel coronavirus has infected at least 43.4 million people and killed more than 1,157,000, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
The United States continues to lead the world in both confirmed cases, at nearly 8.7 million, and deaths, at over 225,000.
India is close behind in cases with 7.9 million, followed by Brazil at nearly 5.4 million.
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