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COVID-19 testing down across Canada as positive case numbers soar in most provinces – Terrace Standard

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Two months after the City of Ottawa scrambled to expand its COVID-19 testing options to deal with a massive spike in demand, it is now set to cut back on hours at testing sites this weekend because far fewer people are showing up for swabs.

The decline mirrors what is happening in much of the rest of the country, with average daily testing numbers down more than 25 per cent compared to a month ago, even as positive cases soar.

On Oct. 15, the Public Health Agency of Canada reported an average of 77,000 COVID-19 tests had been completed each day over the previous week, the highest it had ever been. That fell to an average daily count of 61,000 a week ago, and to below 55,000 this week.

In mid-October, Canada had about 2,300 new cases of COVID-19 diagnosed each day. This week, that number grew to above 4,000.

Ontario, which on Thursday recorded its fifth record case total in the last six days, was aiming to have 68,000 tests daily by the middle of November. It hasn’t hit 40,000 tests once in those six days, and twice dropped below 30,000 tests per day.

The province averaged 38,273 tests per day in October, and this month so far the daily average is 33,870.

British Columbia averaged 9,369 tests last month. So far in November the average daily test count is 9,101..

In many provinces the testing numbers bounce around dramatically. In Quebec, the province tested 30,919 people on Nov. 5. Three days later, the number dropped below 19,000. By Nov. 10, it was back up over 30,000. B.C.’s testing counts in November range from fewer than 5,000 a day to more than 12,000.

In a written statement, the Public Health Agency of Canada said the federal government is working with provinces to increase testing capacity but said the focus shouldn’t be on the number of tests, but how those tests are being used.

“We need to test smartly and test the right people at the right time,” the written statement from officials said.

Dr. Howard Njoo, the deputy chief public health officer, said a week ago that most provinces changed criteria this fall to focus testing mostly on people with symptoms, high-risk settings like hospitals and long-term care homes, and people with known exposures to someone with COVID-19.

“I think people are now recognizing that the best approach could or should be more focused that it may not be the best use of resources and it may actually sort of slow down the testing for those who actually need it,” he said Nov. 6.

Ontario’s testing system was unruly in September, leading the province to massively expand hours and locations of testing sites, create an appointment process, and change the criteria so people without symptoms didn’t clog the lines.

In Ottawa, the testing task force that in September was begging people not to get tested unless they had symptoms began last week to beg people to go get tests. Today, the weekend hours at one of the city’s main testing sites are being cut from 11 hours a day to eight because so many appointments were going unfilled.

Ottawa public health chief Dr. Vera Etches said weekends have become particularly slow. She said the overall numbers have come back a bit from earlier in November and didn’t express alarm that not enough people are being tested, saying it could be due to Ottawa’s declining infection rate.

Ottawa has mostly bucked Ontario’s trend of rising cases, with the infection rate falling from 70 per 100,000 people in mid-October to 38 this week. Toronto’s grew from 57 to almost 100 cases per 100,000 people over that time.

“You know, if the virus level is dropping, there may be more people without symptoms or fewer people with symptoms presenting to be tested,” Etches said.

But she said she still wants people to know if they have symptoms, even very mild ones, getting a test is the responsible thing to do because “we have to detect as much COVID as possible.”

“And so it is one of the things we’re watching and we continue to work with our partners that run the testing system to try to explore more,” she said.

“Why are people coming? Why are they not coming? You know, these are these are things that’s worth exploring for sure.”

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

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Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue – Victoria News

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The country’s top doctor is asking Canadians to limit their contacts and gatherings as COVID-19 cases continue to surge in several provinces.

In a statement released Sunday (Nov. 29), chief medical officer Dr. Theresa Tam said there has been an average of 5,335 new cases daily over the past week, compared to 4,739 daily new cases from Nov. 13-19.

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior, while the positivity rate has increased from 6.6 per cent to 7.6 per cent. The number of patients in hospital with COVID-19 has increased to 2,111 from Nov. 20 to 26, up from 1,840 the week prior. The number of ICU patients treated daily jumped from 376 to 432 over the same time period, while average daily deaths increased by five to 76.

“More and larger outbreaks are occurring in long term care homes, congregate living settings and hospitals, and spreading in Indigenous communities and more remote areas of the country,” Tam said. “These developments are deeply concerning as they put countless Canadians at risk of life-threatening illness, cause serious disruptions to health services and present significant challenges for areas not adequately equipped to manage complex medical emergencies.”

Tam said that this time period was crucial, as the weather continues to get colder across the country and gathering indoors becomes more tempting.

“Avoid or limit time spent in the 3Cs – closed spaces, crowded places and close-contact settings and situations,” she said, as well as urging people to wear masks, stay home if they are sick and wash their hands frequently.

In total, Canada has reported 370,278 confirmed cases and 12,032 deaths due to COVID-19.

B.C. recorded a record-breaking 911 cases on Friday, the last day of a week that has proven to be its deadliest of the pandemic.

READ MORE: Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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Alberta's central zone now has 1101 active COVID-19 cases – Stettler Independent

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The Government of Alberta reported 1,609 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday.

The province now has 15,692 active cases, to go along with 40,219 recovered cases, according to the latest statistics on the government’s website.

Alberta Health Services’ central zone has risen to 1,101 active cases, while the Edmonton zone has 7,230, Calgary has 5,756, the north zone has 857, the south zone has 642 and 223 cases are in an unknown area.

The provincial death toll has risen to 533, which is an increase of nine.

The City of Red Deer currently has 191 active cases, Red Deer County has 61, Sylvan Lake has 48, Lacombe County has 42, Clearwater County has 31, the City of Lacombe has 28, Olds has 21, Mountain View County has 15 and Stettler County has six.

Collectively, Ponoka County and Wetaskiwin County have 349.

“The next few weeks will be hard for all of us in light of the restrictions on social gatherings. I want to thank all of you for doing the right thing and making these sacrifices to help bend the curve,” Alberta’s chief medical officer of healthDr. Deena Hinshaw said on Twitter Sunday.

“While we may be physically separated from each other, I strongly encourage you to reach out to your friends and family and stay connected virtually. We are all in this together – so please reach out to a loved one if you need to.”

Provincially, 435 are in the hospital due to COVID-19 – 95 of those individuals have been admitted into an intensive care unit. In the central zone, 27 people have been hospitalized, five of whom are in intensive care.

In the past 24 hours, 23,282 tests were completed in the province, which brings the total number of tests to 2,234,470.

Hinshaw’s next live update is Monday.



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Red Deer up to 191 active COVID-19 cases – rdnewsnow.com

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Another nine deaths from COVID-19 were reported to bring Alberta’s total to 533.

Red Deer has 191 active cases of COVID-19 as of Sunday, an increase of 20. There have now been 334 recovered cases, an increase of three, as the total number of cases attributed to the city rose by 24 to 525.

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Red Deer County has 64 active cases as of Saturday, an increase of seven, while Sylvan Lake added four to sit with 48.

Lacombe County has 42 active cases, an increase of seven, while Lacombe has 28, also an increase of six.

Clearwater County (Rocky Mtn. House) added 10 more active cases for a total of 31.

Ponoka County added 12 active cases to sit with 250.

Mountain View County holds steady with 15 active cases, Olds added three for a total of 21, and Kneehill County added one for a total of 16. Starland County remains with four and the County of Stettler is up two for a total of six active cases.

There are now 1,101 active cases in the Central zone, an increase of 110, with 27 hospitalizations, including five in intensive care.

“The next few weeks will be hard for all of us in light of the restrictions on social gatherings. I want to thank all of you for doing the right thing and making these sacrifices to help bend the curve,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Tweeted on Sunday.

“While we may be physically separated from each other, I strongly encourage you to reach out to your friends and family and stay connected virtually. We are all in this together – so please reach out to a loved one if you need to.”

Hinshaw is scheduled to share her next live update on Monday.

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