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COVID-19: Ontario reports 1,707 new cases; disease spread at 'critical point,' says Elliott – Ottawa Citizen

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In the public health unit regions surrounding Ottawa, the total number of people who’ve had a case of COVID-19 confirmed rose by seven in Eastern Ontario, by six in Hastings Prince Edward, by two in Leeds, Grenville & Lanark and by one in Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington.

In other news, the province announced $550,000 in support for two companies with plans to add to the supply of made-in-Ontario surgical masks — Viva Healthcare Packaging in Toronto and Ckdpack Packaging in Straffordville.

The funding is being made available through the Ontario Together Fund, a pandemic initiative that’s allowed businesses to apply for money to pivot to PPE production.

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Ottawa Public Health reported a new outbreak of COVID-19 Tuesday involving one staff member at the city-run Carleton Lodge long-term care home.

There are 22 ongoing outbreaks of the virus in local health care or congregate living institutions, as well as three in Ottawa schools, and five in community settings (three workplaces, one community organization and one social event).

OPH reported one new COVID-19 death Tuesday, bringing the number of local lives lost to the disease to 376.

With 34 new cases reported Tuesday, the number of active cases now sits at 351.

There are 24 Ottawans hospitalized with COVID-19, (unchanged from the previous day), with one person in ICU.

Quebec

Quebec reported 1,177 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday.

Twenty-eight new deaths were reported, including three over the past 24 hours. Another 22 deaths occurred between Nov. 24 and 29, one happened before Nov. 24 and two more on unknown dates.

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Health officials in Ontario investigating whether second COVID-19 care home outbreak is linked to U.K. variant – The Globe and Mail

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Paramedics transport a person from Roberta Place, a long term seniors care facility which is the site of a coronavirus disease outbreak in Barrie, Ont. on Jan. 18, 2021.

CARLOS OSORIO/Reuters

The U.K. variant of COVID-19 behind a devastating outbreak at a long-term care home in Barrie, Ont., is also being investigated as the possible source of infections at a second facility in the region.

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit announced on Sunday that it has received another laboratory-confirmed case for the highly contagious variant first detected in the United Kingdom. This individual was in close contact with a person who is part of a COVID-19 outbreak at Bradford Valley Care Community, Charles Gardner, Simcoe Muskoka’s medical officer of health, told reporters.

“So just to be clear, we only have the one laboratory confirmation today with regards to this situation,” Dr. Gardner said, adding that the health unit is pursuing further testing to determine whether anyone who lives or works at the Bradford Valley long-term care home has the variant known as UK B 1.1.7.

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A total of six residents and three staff members at Bradford Valley have tested positive for COVID-19.

U.K. variant of COVID-19 at Barrie, Ont. long-term care home infects all but two residents

The individual who has tested positive for the U.K. variant is also connected to a retail outlet that provides curbside service where two positive cases of the virus have been confirmed. “We are investigating that as another point of contact in the community,” Dr. Gardner said.

The outbreak of the virus at the Bradford long-term care home began on Jan. 14 and is well under control at this time, he said in a statement.

However, he added, “the possibility of this being due to the U.K. variant needs to be assessed and managed, given its increased transmissibility.”

The 230-bed home is owned by Sienna Senior Living, one of Canada’s largest operators of for-profit long-term care homes.

“We are being extremely vigilant in our monitoring for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and are taking all of the necessary steps to protect the safety of our residents and team members,” Sienna’s chief medical officer Andrea Moser said in the statement.

The latest development follows the announcement on Saturday that a genome sequencing test identified the U.K. variant in six COVID-19 samples taken from Roberta Place, a long-term care home in Barrie where a devastating outbreak has infected all but two residents and killed 40 as of Sunday. An essential caregiver has also died of COVID-19 and 86 staff have tested positive.

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Health unit probing second possible UK variant outbreak in region – OrilliaMatters

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NEWS RELEASE
SIMCOE MUSKOKA DISTRICT HEALTH UNIT
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The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) was informed late yesterday by Public Health Ontario Laboratory of an additional individual with the United Kingdom (UK) variant of COVID-19 within the region.

This individual had close contact with a person who is also part of a COVID-19 outbreak at Bradford Valley Care Community, a long-term care home (LTCH) in Bradford West Gwillimbury. As such, SMDHU is currently investigating if this outbreak is also due to the UK variant of COVID-19.

“Given this situation, we are working together in partnership with the residence to implement additional measures to contain the spread while pursuing the necessary tests to determine if it is the UK variant of COVID-19 that is the cause of this outbreak,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, SMDHU’s Medical Officer of Health.

SMDHU is investigating all other connections to the individual who tested positive for the UK variant, including a curbside-only retail setting.

The COVID-19 outbreak was declared at Bradford Valley Care Community on Jan. 14. As of Jan. 23, four residents out of 230, and three staff out of 260, have tested positive for COVID-19; further testing will be done to determine if this is the UK variant. While the outbreak is well under control at this time with a relatively low case count, the possibility of this being due to the UK variant needs to be assessed and managed, given its increased transmissibility.

“We are being extremely vigilant in our monitoring for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and are taking all of the necessary steps to protect the safety of our residents and team members, said Dr. Andrea Moser, Sienna Senior Living’s Chief Medical Officer. “We are working proactively with Public Health and community partners as fighting the virus will require everyone’s expertise and teamwork.”

The intensified case and contact measures being taken include extending the isolation duration for cases and close contacts, more readily identifying close contacts, and quarantining all household contacts of confirmed or probable cases as quickly as possible.

On Jan. 15, most of the residents in Bradford Valley Care Community were provided with vaccination by SMDHU staff as a protective measure against COVID-19.  As of Jan. 16, the residents of all the LTCHs in Simcoe Muskoka have been offered their first dose of immunization against COVID-19. Although many of the staff have received their first vaccination, steps are being taken to ensure that all of them will have access to the vaccine at this time.

“Approximately 60 per cent of team members and 96 per cent of residents at Bradford Valley have received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine,” said Dr. Moser. “We appreciate all the efforts from our partners in the community with the rollout of the vaccine and will continue working closely with them as additional doses are available for deployment.”

People are reminded to continue to strictly follow public health measures to reduce and prevent transmission of the virus: wear a mask, physically distance from those outside your household, wash your hands frequently, leave your home only for essential reasons (in keeping with the provincial Stay at Home Order), and if you have symptoms self-isolate at home and get tested for COVID-19.”

For more information, visit SMDHU’s COVID-19 Vaccine and Immunization web page or call Health Connection to speak with a public health professional weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturdays 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 705-721-7520 (1-877-721-7520). More information about the vaccine and immunization can also be found at ontario.ca.

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'Do not make plans,' warns Henry in plea to stem Family Day travel – Richmond News

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“We won’t be at a place where we can travel.”

That was Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s message Friday, Jan. 22, responding to questions over whether the province’s plan to vaccinate 4.3 million people by October would open up non-essential travel to British Columbians over the next several months.

“We know there are a lot of celebratory events coming up like Chinese New Year. We need those to remain low-key, virtual events this year,” she said.

Until at least the summer, Henry said travel should remain essential with a focus on staying local and “looking at experiencing what we have in B.C. for people in B.C.”

But on Thursday, Premier John Horgan rejected calls for a ban on interprovincial travel, after seeking a legal review on a potential border lockdown to stem the transmission of COVID-19.

Finding that much of the current interprovincial travel is work-related, and therefore essential, it cannot be restricted, Horgan stated in a written statement.

Current public health orders require masks in public indoor spaces and limit social gatherings to a single household or “core bubble” until at least Feb. 5 at midnight. They do not, however, restrict movement across the province.

“Public health officials tell us what is most important is for everyone to obey health orders, wherever they are, rather than imposing mobility rules,” he said. “Therefore, we will not be imposing travel restrictions at this time.”

On Friday, Horgan said his government would “be guided by the science.”

Pointing to his own affinity for attending lacrosse games as well as B.C.’s 150th anniversary since Confederation this summer, Horgan said, “We’re not making plans right now, and British Columbians shouldn’t be making plans right now.” 

“As we get more information, as the vaccination plan rolls out and we see the impact on case counts… we’ll be in a better position to make those decisions.” 

Horgan also said Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Herman is working on a plan to open up campgrounds across the province for the summer season.

As Henry put it: “Once we get to the summer, we’re probably going to be in a different position. Whether we’ll have access to international travel? That is not as sure.”

She added: “We know that there are billions of people who do not have access to vaccinations and that this virus is still creating great risks in many communities around the world.” 

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