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COVID-19 outbreak declared at farm in Norfolk County

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NORFOLK COUNTY —
An outbreak of COVID-19 has been declared at a Norfolk County farm after public health says three migrant workers have tested positive for the virus.

The three are now in hospital, 26 others are showing symptoms and awaiting results, while 140 people are in self-isolation.

Haldimand-Norfolk Public Health says the migrant workers at Scotlynn Group in Vittoria served their two-week self-isolation period when they first arrived. The risk of transmission from them is no different than anyone else in the community, according to officials.

Scott Biddle, the president of Scotlynn Group, says he wants to make sure no one else has COVID-19.

“We’ve shut down, we’ve disinfected, we’ve cleaned the facilities, harvesters, picklers, and we went a step further and isolated everybody,” he said. “We brought in 207 migrant workers from Mexico and did the self isolating for 14 days as instructed by the health department.

“It’s been about 25 days now that they’ve been out and working.”

Haldimand-Norfolk’s medical officer Dr. Shanker Nesathurai says that if someone had COVID-19, they would have cleared it during the two-week period.

The next step, according to Nesathurai, is contact tracing.

“The goal of the public health service ultimately is to try to contain the number of cases and identify people that might be exposed,” he said.

Biddle adds that the workers stay contained on the farm and only go to the grocery store before hours.

“They have no real other interaction with the community,” he said.

Testing is underway for those who live at the three affected residences, other farm employees, and some community members.

“Although this is a challenge, it is a manageable challenge,” said Nesathurai.

Food safety and security expert Sylvain Charlebois says consumers do not need to be concerned about the outbreak at the farm.

“You have a better chance of getting sick from salmonella or E.coli than COVID-19,” he said.

Biddle says they are waiting for negative test results before they can get back to business.

Source: – CTV News

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Edited BY Harry Miller

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Health officials fear fast-spreading UK variant behind COVID-19 outbreak at second Ontario long-term-care home – The New Hamburg Independent

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Teen working in long-term-care home identified as Yassin Dabeh, a Syrian refugee who fled to Canada for a better life – Toronto Star

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Nearly five years ago, Yassin Dabeh’s family fled war-torn Syria for a better life in Canada.

Now the family has been confronted with the unspeakable horror of watching Dabeh become the youngest person in the Middlesex-London area to die after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

Dabeh, 19, worked as a contract cleaner at the Middlesex Terrace Long Term Care home in Delaware, Ont., just west of London, and died after contracting the virus, said Mohamad Fakih, a businessman and philanthropist, who spoke with the young man’s father.

“In 2016, they arrived as immigrants from Syria,” said Fakih, CEO of Paramount Fine Foods, who reached out to the grieving family to offer financial assistance for the funeral. “He said that the community came together and paid for the funeral.”

Fakih said the teenager, who had three brothers and one sister, died on Thursday and was buried on Friday.

To honour Dabeh’s life in his own way, Fakih asked the organizers of a biweekly community outreach event in which 500 meals are cooked for those in need in Regent Park, if Sunday’s event could be held in Dabeh’s memory. They agreed.

Fakih said Dabeh’s father cried when he told him the meals would be served in his son’s honour.

“People need to feel that they’re not alone, especially if they’re refugees,” said Fakih, an immigrant himself who came to Canada from Lebanon more than 20 years ago. “We want to show them that … Canadians, we’re all one big family and they’re not alone. He was very appreciative, the father.”

Details around Dabeh’s death, and its cause, are still emerging.

Dr. Alex Summers, Middlesex-London Health Unit’s associate medical officer of health, told the Star he couldn’t confirm Dabeh’s identity, but only that a male between the ages of 10 and 19 who worked at a long-term-care home had died after testing positive for the virus.

“Obviously a death amongst somebody recently diagnosed with COVID in this age group is a surprise to many and something that is tragic,” said Summers, adding that the deceased was the youngest individual in the health unit region to have died after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

“The public health unit investigation is primarily on understanding where individuals contracted an infectious disease such as COVID and where it might be spread and trying to intervene to limit transmission,” he noted.

He said that the case in question was considered “resolved,” meaning that the patient was no longer infectious.

“Certainly COVID as a virus can have implications for people well beyond whether or not somebody’s infectious,” Summers said. “Sometimes the repercussions can extend beyond the infectious period certainly. In this instance, all I can share is unfortunately a person of that age recently diagnosed with COVID has passed away.”

According to the Middlesex-London Health Unit, an outbreak was declared at the Middlesex Terrace Long Term Care Home on Dec. 23 and remains “active.” The number of infections at the home is not published.

In the health unit as a whole, there have been 601 COVID-19 cases, 292 of which have been among residents and 309 in staff members, as well as 79 deaths.

Mary Raithby, CEO of APANS Health Services, the company that owns the network of homes to which Middlesex Terrance belongs, said in an email to the Star that “we extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Yassin.”

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“Out of respect for their loss and grief, we are declining any interview or statement requests at this time,” she said.

Unifor Local 302, which represents employees at Middlesex Terrace, told the Star that Dabeh was not one of its members, but that it sends its “deepest sympathies to this young man’s family and friends.”

Some politicians took to social media Sunday to express their thoughts on Dabeh’s death.

On Twitter, federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh called Dabeh’s death “a tragedy.”

“Essential workers are at risk every day,” Singh wrote. “Paid sick days, faster vaccine rollout and access to PPE are needed urgently — to save lives.”

“My sincerest condolences to this young man’s family, friends, & loved ones — and all victims of COVID-19,” tweeted London mayor Ed Holder. “The virus doesn’t discriminate based on age, gender, race, religion, or creed. Everybody needs to take this seriously, otherwise anybody can find themselves at risk.”

Samir Sinha, director of geriatrics at the Sinai Health System and University Health Network, said the vast majority of young people who get COVID-19 experience mild, asymptomatic courses. But he said there is a very small segment of young people who get serious and hard-to-treat bouts of the virus that require hospitalization.

“One of the biggest reasons people die due to influenza is not actually due to influenza but because influenza can actually trigger other issues,” he said. “For a lot of older people, influenza can actually trigger a pneumonia or a co-infection with something like pneumonia. It can also, if you have something like heart disease, trigger you to actually have a heart attack or other things.”

Sinha noted that it is really hard to say at this stage what may have happened to Dabeh.

“It could have been something completely unrelated … or it might have been that COVID-19 triggered something else or caused something else to get worse.”

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Dentists, teachers disappointed they won’t be prioritized for vaccine in B.C. – Global News

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Dentists, bus drivers and teachers are among the essential workers who are disappointed they won’t be given priority to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in British Columbia.

B.C. rolled out its vaccination plan on Friday, revealing that after the most vulnerable groups have been immunized, shots will be given out according to age, with the oldest residents first in line.

That means many people who have not been able to work from home during the pandemic, including grocery store workers, police officers and mail carriers, will have to wait to get the vaccine along with others in their age group.

Read more:
Boost school safety if B.C. teachers won’t get COVID-19 vaccine early, union says

The British Columbia Dental Association has written a letter to Premier John Horgan strongly urging him to include dentists in Stage 2 of the vaccination plan, alongside family doctors and medical specialists.

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“Dentistry is an essential service. More importantly, dental care, including aerosol-generating dental procedures, are provided to patients who cannot wear a mask during treatment,” said association president Dr. Anthony Nadolski in the letter.






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B.C. teachers and grocery store workers won’t get COVID-19 shots early


B.C. teachers and grocery store workers won’t get COVID-19 shots early

“B.C. dentists continue to do everything they can to ensure dental offices are safe for patients and staff. Early access to vaccines will ensure continued access to urgent and emergency dental care.”

Other agencies such as the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have included dentists and dental workers in Stage 2 along with doctors and specialists not directly involved in providing care to COVID-19 patients, Nadolski added.

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More recently, Ontario included dentistry in its second stage because dentists generally provide in-person care and many dental procedures are urgent and cannot be delayed, he said.

The B.C. Ministry of Health did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday.

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The province initially suggested that people delivering essential services such as teachers, grocery store workers and those in law enforcement could be prioritized to get the vaccine.

But when the finalized plan was released on Friday, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said scientific evidence supports an age-based approach because older populations are at much higher risk of infection and death from COVID-19.


Click to play video 'The immense logistical challenge of B.C.’s mass vaccination program'



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The immense logistical challenge of B.C.’s mass vaccination program


The immense logistical challenge of B.C.’s mass vaccination program

Currently, hospital workers, Indigenous communities and long-term care home residents, staff and essential visitors are among those being vaccinated in Stage 1 of the plan.

Stage 2 will begin in February and include people 80 and over, Indigenous seniors over 65, general practitioners and medical specialists.

Read more:
B.C. prioritizing age and vulnerable people over non medical essential workers in mass COVID-19 immunization plan

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In April, the province will start vaccinating the general public according to five-year age groupings, starting with seniors aged 75 to 79 before moving on to those aged 70 to 74 and so on.

However, Henry added that the approval of more vaccines may mean the province’s plan could be revised to vaccinate essential workers between April and June.

Metro Vancouver bus drivers are “very disappointed” they will not be prioritized while they risk their lives to provide transportation to the public, said Balbir Mann, president of Unifor Local 111.


Click to play video 'B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan'



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B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan


B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan

The union is calling on the provincial government to immediately change the plan and include transit operators in Stage 2.

“We’re basically frontline workers, taking people to work and grocery shopping. Our members are real heroes,” said Mann. “They’re putting their lives in front of this to help out the general public.”

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Teachers are also disappointed there is no prioritization for front-line workers who have kept schools, public services and the economy open, said B.C. Teachers Federation President Teri Mooring.

“However, the vaccine supply limit is beyond our control and those among us who are most vulnerable of death and serious illness must be vaccinated first,” she said in a statement.

READ MORE: 57% of British Columbians give low score to province’s vaccine rollout plan: poll

Hopefully more vaccines are approved and the immunization strategy will be appropriately adjusted and accelerated, she said.

Mooring added if teachers are not prioritized for vaccines, the government must take immediate action to improve safety measures in schools, including mandatory masks, better physical distancing and ventilation upgrades.

“There is no denying that teachers are stressed, anxious and even afraid. We do not have the layers of protection in our schools that exist in other environments.”

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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