Whether you’re continuing to hunker down or getting ready for the new normal, now is a good time to review best practices
As parts of Canada begin to reopen following a nationwide lockdown to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus pandemic, the country’s chief public health officer is warning people to remain vigilant.
Canada’s reported more than 2,290 deaths and about 43,500 cases of the virus since the pandemic was declared on March 11. And while the spread may be slowing in Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island, it’s still peaking in the country’s most populous provinces of Ontario and Quebec.
“I think we have to tread very carefully at this point,” Dr. Theresa Tam said. “We are seeing some bumps in the road that remind us we can’t let down our guard.”
Whether you’re continuing to hunker down, getting ready for the new normal, or bracing for subsequent waves of the pandemic, now is a good time to review best practices for dealing with the coronavirus on everyday surfaces.
How does COVID-19 spread?
The virus can spread from an infected person through respiratory droplets generated when someone coughs or sneezes, through personal contact (such as shaking hands) with an infected person, or by touching something with the virus on it.
How long can the coronavirus survive on surfaces?
The New England Journal of Medicine published a study in March, which tested how long the virus could remain on various surfaces in a lab setting. It showed that the virus was detected on copper for up to four hours, on cardboard for up to 24 hours and on plastic and steel for up to 72 hours.
The amount of the virus decreased over time and so the risk of infection from touching the surfaces would likely fall over time as well.
What are some of the most dangerous surfaces?
Any surface in a public place is potentially hazardous because you don’t know who has been there, or if they were infected.
For this reason, it’s important to avoid high-touch areas such as public transit, or grocery stores.
It’s important to avoid touching door handles, light switches, or taps that others may have touched and contaminated.
Can you get the virus from food?
There haven’t been any reported cases of COVID-19 being spread through food, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.
However, it’s still recommended to follow safe food handling and cooking practices — such as washing fruits and vegetables in running water, properly cooking food and keeping counters and prep areas disinfected and clean.
Could you get the virus from groceries?
There’s no evidence that you can get the virus from food packaging, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible, said Dr. Julia Marcus, an infectious disease epidemiologist and professor in the Department of Population Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
“The potential risk is that an infected person recently handled our groceries, and then we touch those items and go on to touch our eyes, nose, or mouth,” she said. “There are several ways to reduce this risk, including letting the groceries sit untouched for some time, disposing of outer food packaging, or disinfecting hard surfaces like bottles or cans, but the most important thing is to wash your hands well after handling anything new that comes into your home.”
Is it possible that food deliveries or packages received in the post are contaminated?
There is a chance that a delivery person, or container could spread the virus. That’s why it’s best to use contactless payment methods.
And best practise would be to throw out or recycle any packaging. Also, remember to carefully wash your hands after handling it.
That said, if you’re receiving a book, or clothing that’s been packed in cardboard, it’s much more likely that the cardboard could be contaminated than the contents, which likely already spent days packed up.
High-touch surfaces such as toys, toilets, phones, electronics, door handles and TV remotes should be cleaned regularly
How safe are non-medical grade masks?
“The recommendation is to use a cloth face mask that fits snugly and has multiple layers of fabric,” said Harvard’s Dr. Marcus. “Cloth masks can be reused, but should be washed in between uses with hot water and laundry detergent.”
Are there any tips for cleaning surfaces?
Coronaviruses can be destroyed on surfaces by using appropriate disinfectants and following the instructions, according to Canada’s health agency.
Regular household cleaners including bleach solutions and cleaners with at least 70 per cent alcohol content should be effective.
High-touch surfaces such as toys, toilets, phones, electronics, door handles and TV remotes should be cleaned regularly.
And if somebody in your home has been diagnosed with the virus then everything should be disinfected more frequently.
This story idea initially came from a reader who took part in our COVID-19 ‘Ask Us Anything’ initiative. Want to know more? Ask us a question here.
Manitoba Human Rights Commission reports increased calls from mandatory mask opponents – CBC.ca
Manitoba’s attempt to cut rising COVID-19 numbers appears to be paying off, officials say, but it’s leading to some public anger and a sharp rise in complaints to the province’s human rights commission.
“I would say our office is dealing with anywhere between 50 to 100 calls per month on the mask issue, from individuals who are telling us that they’re being denied access to retail premises or being asked to wear a mask for some reason or other,” Karen Sharma, the commission’s acting executive director, said Wednesday.
Overall call volumes are running about 30 per cent above normal, Sharma said.
“We tell people that the province’s current mask mandate, from a human rights perspective, is generally not an issue unless … that person does have a disability-related need not to wear a mask, in which case they might require some form of accommodation.”
Manitoba has implemented a series of increasingly tough restrictions over the last two months as COVID-19 numbers have spiked. The most recent orders mandate mask use in all indoor public areas, require restaurants and bars to close except for takeout and delivery, and forbid people from having guests in their home with some exceptions.
The public health orders also require that when someone has come into close contact with a known COVID-19 case, that person must self-isolate, even from other members of his or her household.
Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said nurses and others who call known contacts of COVID-19 cases often face abuse.
“We are again hearing reports from public health contact tracers … of very angry people on the other end of the telephone line when they’re advising them that they’re contacts or cases and need to self-isolate,” Roussin said.
“When someone is isolating … the whole purpose is that should you become a case, which a certain proportion do, you’re going to have zero contacts. There’s not anyone you could have passed (the virus) to.”
B.C. health officials prepare to begin COVID-19 vaccinations as early as January – CBC.ca
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says British Columbians could begin receiving a vaccine for COVID-19 as early as January 2021.
“There’s a light in our future on the horizon, as we hear more and more positive news about vaccines, as we know, though, this will be a large, complex undertaking,” she said on Wednesday as part of her daily briefing with Health Minister Adrian Dix.
The duo announced the formation of a provincial vaccination team, which be headed by Dr. Ross Brown, who is the vice-president of pandemic response for Vancouver Coastal Health and has an extensive background as a military doctor.
Henry said people on the team, including provincial officials and experts from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, have been working with the federal government to create a plan to supply a vaccine to B.C. residents.
“To understand the requirements to safely get the right vaccine and to the right people, as quickly as possible in the most efficient way,” she said.
Ottawa has pre-ordered more than 350 million doses from seven companies to guard against the possibility that some of the vaccines in development prove ineffective.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that Canada would be able to vaccinate people here in the “coming months,” but did not commit to a firm timeline for the rollout.
He reiterated that the federal government is committing to providing a safe and effective vaccine to Canadians.
Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech both announced in November that their vaccine candidates against the novel coronavirus have shown promising results so far in Phase 3 clinical trials.
AstraZeneca said late-stage trials showed that its COVID-19 vaccine with Oxford University was up to 90 per cent effective in preventing disease. The vaccine is one of several that Canada has preordered.
While the AstraZeneca vaccine can be stored between 2 C and 8 C, the Pfizer and Moderna products must be stored at freezer temperatures. In Pfizer’s case, it must be kept at the ultra-cold temperature of around –70 C.
The province is now working on the logistics of distributing the first round of vaccines, Henry said Wednesday, considering there won’t be enough for the whole population in the early days or months of the jab being available.
People working in long-term care and front-line medical workers would be at the top of the priority list for getting the vaccine first, she said.
“It’s always a challenge when we’re reliant on offshore manufacturing and there’s always things that can go wrong,” said Henry. “We want to be ready as soon as a vaccine is ready, to get it to the right people at the right time safely, and to be able to monitor safety.”.
‘Sparing no effort’
Dix called the immunization for COVID-19 in B.C. the province’s “most significant immunization program” in its history and that officials would ensure it was successful.
“We are sparing no effort to ensure that that goes well,” he said.
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COVID-19 in B.C.: Dr. Bonnie Henry condemns anti-maskers, data correction, physical activity update, and more – The Georgia Straight
Tragically, B.C. has hit yet another new record number of deaths. In additon, the new case count remained high, and case numbers increased in other categories.
While there weren’t any new outbreaks, there were three stores and six flights with confirmed cases.
There were a number of updates, including updated physical activity guidelines and data corrections.
Although B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry had announced on November 19 that all spin classes, high intensity interval training (HIIT), and hot yoga had to stop activity, B.C. health officials updated its guidelines for physical activity spaces on November 24, which includes further temporary suspensions.
All dance studios, yoga studios, gymnastics centres, and other spaces with group indoor fitness activity now have to temporarily stop those activities across the province while “new guidance is being developed”.
These activities include gymnastics, dance, martial arts, yoga, pilates, cheerleading, and strength and conditioning.
Venues will have to use the new guidance and post an update COVID-19 safety plan before resuming activity.
B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said that they are seeing a decreases in cases and outbreaks related to parties, wedding, and social events.
An encouraging sign is that she said they haven’t seen any surges linked to Diwali (November 14).
However, she said they are seeing surges in other settings, such as clusters in workplaces.
Henry explained that her mandatory mask order is designed to help staff at locations such as retail shops, and to enable police in taking action to address people responding in belligerent ways, and for “people to know there are consequences from taking unsafe actions”.
She said she has “no time for people who are belligerent and are trying to make some sort of a statement about anti-vaxx and think that this is not a truly challenging pandemic and I have no time for people who believe that wearing a mask somehow makes them ill or is a sign of a lack of freedom,” she said. “To me, it’s about respect for our fellow people who are suffering through this with us and about making sure we’re doing our piece in solidarity to get us through this really challenging time.”
As she said she also wants to protect the people who truly cannot wear a mask to receive the services they need, she wanted to emphasize the need for everyone to demonstrate respect for others.
Unfortunately, there have been some recent examples of those who have no interested in doing so.
Vancouver police shut down a party in Yaletown on November 21, where all of the guests were seated close together and weren’t wearing masks in violation of COVID-19 restrictions for social gatherings. After the party guests ignored health information from Vancouver police, officers issued a $2,300 ticket to the main occupant.
Meanwhile, a West End tenant issued letters to his neighbours in a condo building to inform them that he refuses to wear a mask and will sue anyone who makes him do so.
Henry said there was a technical error in the transfer of data from a lab to the health authority that affected case numbers in Fraser Health from November 17 to 24.
She said the error was detected yesterday and she provided corrected numbers. As well, a chart of corrections was issued.
However, the numbers that Henry read out at the briefing and what appear on the chart appear to be different.
The Georgia Straight has contacted the B.C. Health ministry to clarify the discrepancies.
Henry announced that there are 738 new cases today, including four epi-linked cases.
By region, that includes:
- 443 in Fraser Health;
- 169 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
- 70 in Interior Health;
- 35 in Northern Health;
- 21 in Island Health;
- none among people from outside Canada.
Currently, there are 7,616 active cases, which is an increase of 116 cases.
The number of hospitalizations continue to rise. Ath the moment, there are now 294 people are in hospital (10 more people since yesterday), with 61 patients in intensive care units (same number as yesterday).
Public health is monitoring 10,270 people, which is only 13 more people since yesterday.
Unfortunately, there are 13 new deaths, which is a new record for one day. The last record was 11 deaths on November 17.
The total number of fatalities is now at 371 people have died.
A total of 19,814 people have now recovered
B.C. has recorded a cumulative total of 29,086 cases during the pandemic, which includes:
- 18,167 cases in Fraser Health;
- 8,161 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
- 1,426 in Interior Health;
- 713 in Northern Health;
- 526 in Island Health;
- 93 people from outside Canada.
The good news is that there aren’t any new healthcare outbreaks.
Fraser Health declared the outbreak at Royal Columbian Hospital, which began in a medicine unit, as over.
Active healthcare outbreaks remain at 57 facilities—52 are in longterm care facilities while five are in acute care units.
In addition, there aren’t any new community outbreak and Henry said that the outbreak at MSJ Distribution at Valhalla in Delta has been declared over.
Loblaw reported cases at three of its stores:
- two employees who tested positive last worked on November 13 and 16 at Real Canadian Superstore (2855 Gladwin Road,) in Abbotsford;
- one employee who tested positive last worked on November 15 at Real Canadian Superstore at 350 Southeast Marine Drive in Vancouver;
- an employee who tested positive last worked on November 20 at Shoppers Drug Mart located at 1125 Davie Street in Vancouver.
The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) added six flights to its lists of domestic and international flights confirmed with COVID-19 cases:
- November 16: United Airlines 5312, San Francisco to Vancouver;
- November 18: Air Canada/Jazz 8265, Vancouver to Nanaimo;
- November 18: United Airlines 5436, San Francisco to Vancouver;
- November 21: United Airlines 5312, San Francisco to Vancouver;
- November 22, Air Canada 45, Delhi to Vancouver;
- November 23: WestJet 3349, Edmonton to Victoria.
For affected row information, visit the BCCDC website.
Today, there were 44 schools from three regional health authorities with new exposure dates.
Due to the extensive number of schools with exposures, today’s list was published as a separate article.
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