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COVID-19: No plans to ease hot zone restrictions, Ford says; Canada has record one-day total of cases – The Sudbury Star

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What you need to know, at a glance

  • Premier Doug Ford says there are no plans to ease ‘hot zone’ restrictions, despite economic disruptions
  • ‘We won’t even have an economy if this continues to spread’
  • Ontario reported 826 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, including 88 in Ottawa
  • The new numbers push Ontario’s total number of infections to 68,353
  • There were nine new deaths, bringing the total to 3,080
  • There are 276 people in hospital with 78 of those in ICU care and 47 on ventilators
  • Ottawa Public Health reported 88 new cases and five new deaths over the previous 24 hours
  • One new outbreak was declared among health care and congregate living facilities, while two more outbreaks were declared in child care and schools
  • Five new cases have been confirmed in sports related outbreaks, for a total of 30
  • A resident of the city-run Centre d’accueil Champlain long-term care home has died in hospital of COVID-19
  • A second staff member at the Garry J. Armstrong long-term care home has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Eastern Ontario’s medical officer of health expected to announce more restrictions on gyms, bars and restaurants
  • Quebec reported 905 infections, bringing the total number of confirmed cases since to 98,226 since the pandemic began.
  • Twelve new deaths were reported – four over the past 24 hours, six between Oct. 16 and 21, and another two on unknown dates
  • The Outaouais region reported 25 new cases and one new death since the last report.
  • Canada recorded a record 2,788 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, the largest increase in infections since the pandemic began
  • “We have to get these numbers down,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said
  • The federal government spending $214 million towards the development of COVID-19 vaccines
  • But PM warns that he doesn’t anticipate a vaccine will be ready this year or in early 2021
  • Nationally, the number of COVID-19 infections topped 209,000 with more than 23,000 active cases
  • The virus has killed 9,862 Canadians.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliott say they have no plans to ease restrictions in the province’s four COVID-19 hot zones of Ottawa, Toronto, Peel and York even as some business owners push back against the economic disruption the measures have caused.

“We won’t even have an economy if this continues to spread and gets up over 1,000 cases (a day),” Ford said Friday at a media briefing in Prince Edward County.

Ford added that he will meet with the province’s medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, and his health team over the weekend to decide if Halton region, west of Toronto, will also be added to the hot zone list.

“I’ll have that answer on Monday,” the premier said. “It’s concerning right now. We’re seeing the numbers go up again.”

Ontario reported 826 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, including 292 in Toronto, 186 in Peel, and 72 in York.

“We’ve been advised by Dr. Williams and his team that these are measures we have to take to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Elliott said.

“The evidence says that if we take these steps now it prevents us from going into a longer period of lockdown with more economic shutdown. While we recognize that this is very difficult for many business owners, this is the advice we’ve received from the public health professionals.”

Friday marks two weeks since the Ontario imposed the modified Stage 2 restrictions in Ottawa, Toronto and Peel and the halfway point in the order’s initial 28-day duration.

The latest numbers represent a slight decline for the province, which reported 841 new cases on Thursday.

Ontario has now had 68,353 confirmed cases since the pandemic was declared. Some 3,080 people have died in the province from COVID-19.

There are 276 people in hospital with 78 of those in intensive care and 47 on ventilators.

The province completed more than 40,000 tests on Thursday, Elliott said. Another 733 cases have now been resolved.

Seventy-seven long-term care homes are battling novel coronavirus outbreaks in Ontario, down three from the day before.

Local

Ottawa Public Health reported 88 new cases and five new death over the previous 24 hours.

It was the highest daily death count since May.

There have been 6,384 total cases, with 676 active. The death toll is at 314.

One new outbreak was declared among health care and congregate living facilities, for a total of 50 outbreaks. Two new outbreaks were reported in child care and schools for a total of 19.

Five new cases have been reported in sports-related outbreaks, for a total of 30.

The city announced Thursday that a resident of the city-run Centre d’accueil Champlain long-term care home has died in hospital of COVID-19. The resident was admitted to hospital on Oct. 13, Donna Gray, general manager of Community and Social Services announced in a memo to members of council.

Gray also informed councillors that a second staff member at the Garry J. Armstrong long-term care home has tested positive for COVID-19.

A group of restaurateurs and other Ottawa business people are planning to protest the provincial ‘hot zone’ restrictions on Saturday with a march from Ottawa city hall to Parliament hill. Unlike most protests, organizers are trying to limit their numbers by capping the number of people who can attend from each business.

“We are not anti-maskers or those looking to counter public health measures, but the contrary,” they say.

Meanwhile, Eastern Ontario’s medical officer of health was expected to announce Friday more restrictions under a local Class Section 22 order. The restrictions, which are milder than the modified Stage 2 restrictions in place in neighbouring Ottawa, won’t come into effect until next week, said Dr. Paul Roumeliotis of the Eastern Ontario Health Unit.

The restrictions limit restaurants to a maximum capacity of 100 with no more than six people per table. Gyms can have no more than 50 people inside at a time and fitness classes are limited to 10 people. Banquet halls and other meeting or event facilities would be capped at 50 people.

The EOHU measures are similar to those enacted by Ottawa Public Health on Sept. 22, two weeks before the province imposed the stricter, more easily enforced restrictions of the modified Stage 2 order. EOHU covers Cornwall, Prescott Russell and the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry.

Roumeliotis was to hold a briefing of his own late Friday afternoon.

Quebec

The number of new cases dipped below 1,000 today, with hospitalizations and ICU admissions dropping.

Quebec reported 905 infections, bringing the total number of confirmed cases since to 98,226 since the pandemic began.

Twelve new deaths were reported – four over the past 24 hours, six between Oct. 16 and 21, and another two on unknown dates.

Among those in hospital, 99 are in intensive care, a drop of two.

The Outaouais region reported 25 new cases and one new death since the last report.

National

Canada recorded a record 2,788 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, the largest increase in infections since the pandemic began.

“We have to get these numbers down. This is serious and everyone must do their part,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. “Your loved ones with pre-existing conditions, your parents your grandparents, they’re counting on you.

“People’s lives are at stake. We can’t afford to be careless or expect that this virus will just go away on its own.”

Nationally, the number of COVID-19 infections topped 209,000 with more than 23,000 active cases, according to figures released Thursday night. Quebec and Ontario account for two-thirds of all active cases. The virus has killed 9,862 Canadians.

The prime minister said that the government is spending $214 million towards the development of COVID-19 vaccines, signing deals with Quebec firm Medicago and British Columbia’s Precision NanoSystems.

Trudeau says the Medicago contract includes the rights to buy 76 million doses of its vaccine, should it meet health and safety standards, as well as funding for a production facility in Quebec City.

Two more American vaccine makers, Moderna and Pfizer, have asked Health Canada to review their products as they undergo clinical trials.

However, Trudeau warns that he doesn’t anticipate a vaccine will be ready to inoculate Canadians against the COVID-19 virus this year or in early 2021.

The prime minister says Canada has also acquired “hundreds of thousands” of rapid test kits from medical company Abbott to be distributed across the provinces and territories.

Two more vaccine makers have asked Health Canada to study their product before it has completed clinical trials.

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-With files from Postmedia and The Canadian Press

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COVID-19 case investigations continue to lag days behind case identification in Manitoba – CBC.ca

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COVID-19 case investigations in Winnipeg are lagging days behind positive test results, contrary to the premier’s claim Manitoba has no more contact-tracing delays.

On Friday, Premier Brian Pallister said tracing delays are a thing of the past in this province.

“There’s zero backlogs on tracking and tracing right now in our province,” Pallister said during an interview that aired on Rosemary Barton Live on Sunday.

Backlogs, however, remain. CBC News has learned public health nurses in the Winnipeg health region started investigating COVID-19 cases on Monday that were identified as positive on Nov. 19 — a delay of four days — and are still working overtime to catch up on caseloads.

This four-day delay represents a vast improvement from October, when COVID-19 patients reported contact-tracing investigations lagging behind positive test results by as much as a week.

It nonetheless remains well behind the 24-hour timeframe epidemiologists have recommended for starting contact-tracing investigations in order to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“A twenty-four hour delay in getting a hold of somebody in a shelter, that’s a disaster,” said a public health nurse who CBC News is not identifying due to fears of repercussions.

WATCH | Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister insists his province’s restrictions are the most stringent in the country:

Delays are particularly important to avoid in Winnipeg, where people living in homeless shelters are disproportionately affected by the pandemic, the nurse said.

“When you get somebody on the phone that’s living on the street and you’re telling them they have COVID, it’s a lot different than calling somebody who’s living at home and have three people in their house.”

Darlene Jackson, president of the Manitoba Nurses Union, said the four-day lag reported by the public health nurse is in line with what she’s hearing from her members. 

“We’re hearing that there is a lag — anywhere from a couple of days, to five days,” said Jackson, adding some public health nurses are required to work evenings and weekends in order to catch up on caseloads.

“We know that public health nurses are still working excessive amounts of overtime. They’re being mandated frequently. They’re working through weekends. They’re not allowed to go home until they finish contact tracing on cases. It’s been it’s been months like this, with no end in sight,” Jackson said.

“I just find it very frustrating. We’re already eight months into a pandemic and it just feels like we’re just trying to get caught up now.”

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer, made it clear on Monday the lag involves the time between the identification of a positive case in a laboratory and the handover of information about that case to public health.

“Almost all cases are reached within 24 hours of the report being reported to public health,” said Roussin, adding some case investigations do not begin until the next day after that.

Province adding contact tracers

Case investigations are one aspect of contact-tracing in Manitoba. The province employs an average of 170 people per day — public health nurses and contractors with the Canadian Red Cross — to conduct these investigations.

The province also pays for an average of 80 people a day to notify contacts of known COVID-19 cases. Statistics Canada has been enlisted for this task.

The third aspect of contact tracing involves follow-up calls to infected patients. These are conducted by 43 staff and volunteers at the COVID-19 Contact Centre, jointly run out of the Deer Lodge Centre by Shared Health and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba chief public health officer, said most case investigations begin within a day of public health learning about them. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

On Monday, Health Minister Cameron Friesen promised to bolster these 203 positions with 143 more workers.

The public health nurse who spoke to CBC News said that won’t help unless the reinforcements have specialized training.

“We need people who have the knowledge and the education to do proper contact-case investigations. It’s more than just calling people and telling them they have COVID,” the nurse said.

“We’re doing health assessments and directing people where to go if their symptoms exacerbate. We’re dealing with people who are structurally disadvantaged, who don’t have home. I mean, those are things that public health nurses know, not somebody answering the phone at a call centre.”

Contact tracers not allowed to work from home

The Manitoba Nurses Union also chastised the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority for not allowing COVID-19 case investigators to work from home.

Public health nurses are being subjected to unnecessary risks at the office — while some are unable to work because they are sick, isolating or caring for children, the union said.

“I do not understand why public health nurses are not allowed to access their files that they need at home and to work from home,” Jackson said.

Roussin, who has urged all employers to allow employees to work remotely, encouraged the WRHA to consider doing the same.

“If you can make it feasible, if you can get the work done by being at home, then I would encourage all employers to to look at that,” he said.

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Confusion remains in B.C. on who can gather in restaurants under COVID-19 restrictions – Global News

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The B.C. Restaurant and Food Association says a new set of COVID-19 restrictions imposed by the provincial government has customers struggling to understand who they are allowed to dine with.

The association’s president Ian Tostenson says restaurants are trying to tell customers to use common sense and follow advice from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, but he says that advice has been unclear.

“There is a lot of confusion as to who can dine out as a result of the last couple of weeks with Dr. Henry,” Tostenson said Monday.

“The spirit of what Dr. Henry is saying is eat with people you trust, eat with people in your bubble. But if you try to define that too much it gets too hard.”

Read more:
‘Kicked when we’re down’: New COVID-19 restrictions hit already struggling B.C. restaurants

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The provincial orders issued last week require diners to only eat with someone from their own household. If someone is single, they can eat with one or two other people who make up their pandemic bubble.

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For example, three friends who are also married cannot all eat together at a restaurant. Another common mistake is parents cannot take their adult child and spouse for a meal at a restaurant if they live in separate households.

“For these two weeks we’re saying stick with your household bubble, and for some people that may mean one or two people who they have close contact with their pandemic bubble,” Henry said Monday.

The biggest challenge to uphold the order is enforcement.

Restaurants are being told not to ask diners whether they are following the rules. Instead, Henry is asking diners to know the rules themselves.


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Christmas events put ‘on hold’ by pandemic


Christmas events put ‘on hold’ by pandemic

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“It is not the restaurant’s responsibility to ask people who they live with, or where they are from,” Tostenson said.

“The more that we increase confusion and uncertainty in the marketplace the harder it is.”

There is growing concern from the province that British Columbians are trying to exploit loopholes in the order. The priority for the government is to crack down of social gatherings if that is in someone’s home or in a restaurant.

Read more:
Your questions about B.C.’s new COVID-19 measures answered

One thing enforcement can do is crack down on organized events in a restaurant like live music.

“There is a tendency to … see these like a speed limit and it says 80 (km/h), and maybe I can go 86. That’s not what these are,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said Monday.

“These are provincial health orders to help us stop the spread of a virus that is harming our loved ones in long-term care and causing great disruption in our society, and these are the things we’re doing together to stop that.”

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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'We are on the verge of significant bankruptcies': Restaurants and pubs struggle under B.C.'s new restrictions – CTV News Vancouver

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VANCOUVER —
New measures introduced last Thursday by Dr. Bonnie Henry meant to curb the spread of COVID-19 by limiting social interactions appear to be having the desired effect, to the detriment of businesses.

At a news conference on Nov. 19, Henry ordered B.C. residents to limit social gatherings to their immediate household, or a small pandemic bubble for those living alone.

“This applies in our homes, vacation rentals and in the community and in public venues, including those with less than 50 people in controlled settings,” Henry said.

She made no specific mention of restaurants or pubs, and Ian Tostenson with the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association said there has been confusion about who can dine out.

“We haven’t seen the latest health order, it hasn’t been written from last week, so as far as we’re concerned, we’re telling people go to a restaurant but go to a restaurant in the spirit of hanging with people you trust in a small bubble,” Tostenson said.

Tostenson estimates over the last 10 days, restaurants have lost about 30-40 per cent of their pandemic sales as those who were confused by the orders chose to stay home.

Henry’s order was an expansion of a previous regional order that only applied in B.C.’s Lower Mainland. During prior news conferences, Henry made clear that while dining out was encouraged, people should only do it with their households.

On Monday, Henry clarified again that she wants British Columbians to spend the next two weeks only socializing in person with others from their household, or a bubble of one or two designated people for those who live alone. That applies to going to restaurants.

The restrictions are also hitting bars and pubs hard. Jeff Guignard with the Alliance of Beverage Licensees estimated business dropped by 50 per cent of pandemic levels.

“So you have people who are down to 25 per cent of where they were in 2019 and that’s just not sustainable. We’re on the verge of significant bankruptcies right now,” he said.

Restrictions are scheduled tin place until Dec. 7.

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