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COVID-19 testing sites see demand surge as cases rise, kids return to school

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OTTAWA —
Provinces are looking to expand COVID-19 testing as many Canadians wait long hours to be swabbed or can’t get in for testing at all.

Demand for testing surged in much of the country in recent days, as schools and universities reopened and the number of identified cases began to rise.

Ottawa public health officials said they’d seen record demand at testing sites since the weekend, and many people were turned away both Monday and Tuesday because the sites had reached capacity.

In London, Ont., two testing sites hit capacity in the afternoon Tuesday.

New testing centres have opened in Laval, Que., and Edmonton in the last week to accommodate rising demand. Quebec Premier Francois Legault said his province is trying to expand sites in regions that previously weren’t seeing much call for swabbings, as well as adding capacity to labs to do the actual tests, but he said getting equipment is taking time.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Tuesday the lineups for testing are “ridiculous” and he is trying to see if pharmacies can be used to test some asymptomatic people to take pressure off overloaded COVID-19 assessment centres.

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said some increase in demand has been expected, “but perhaps not to this extent.”

Ottawa mother Robin MacIntyre was waiting in line with her daughter at Ottawa’s Brewer Park testing site for the second day Tuesday, after they failed to get in on Monday. She had already waited two hours Tuesday and was frustrated.

“I think this is ridiculous,” she said. “They knew this was coming.”

People started lining up two hours before the testing site opened at 9 a.m. and by mid-morning, the lineup snaked around a nearby soccer field four times. Some people brought lawn chairs and boxed lunches, entertaining their kids with smartphones and tablets, or let them play on a nearby playground. By 10:30 a.m. people at the back of the line were already being warned they wouldn’t get in, even though the site was open until 3:30 p.m.

MacIntyre wondered what is going to happen in the winter.

Ontario’s public health chief Dr. David Williams said Monday the province is looking at what to do about winter testing lines, including possibly finding a way for people to safely wait indoors.

Ottawa’s local authorities are trying to increase test capacity from 2,000 to 3,000 a day, and is hiring and training more staff over the next week. Dr. Alan Forster, a vice-president at the Ottawa Hospital who is overseeing testing for the Ottawa region’s COVID-19 response committee, said two local testing sites should be able to add four more hours per day within a week.

He said the No. 1 driver of the surge in demand for testing is kids.

But Ottawa officials are also desperately trying to convince adults who don’t have symptoms and have no known exposure to COVID-19 to stop coming in for tests. Forster said asymptomatic people who haven’t had close contact with someone who has COVID-19 are clogging up the system.

Ottawa public health chief Dr. Vera Etches said people without symptoms or a known exposure can give themselves peace of mind they don’t have COVID-19 by practising the public health precautions preached for months: wear a mask, keep your distance, avoid large gatherings and wash your hands.

The surge in cases is driving testing demand too because the number of potential exposures is growing. In London, testing demand soared after five students at Western University tested positive over the weekend.

Etches said people who are testing positive are also reporting more close contacts, which means more people have to be sent for testing. She said in March many people were reporting 15 to 20 close contacts, while in the summer, that had fallen to just two or three per person.

This month, she said some people have more than 100 contacts, and one even had more than 150.

Dr. Theresa Tam, the country’s chief public health officer, said Tuesday the federal government is offering federal lab capacity to help the surge in demand because getting testing done quickly is critical to identifying and isolating cases and controlling the pandemic.

Tam also said Canada needs to get more rapid tests, so results can be provided in under an hour rather than in one or two days. She said the faster tests still need to be approved by Health Canada and couldn’t say when that might happen.

Dr. Tony Mazzulli, microbiologist in chief at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, said conducting a test on a sample takes less than 24 hours but it takes time to get the specimens from the test sites to the lab, and more time to get the results back to the testing site and then entered into a computer so patients can be contacted.

Mazzulli said his lab saw between 4,500 and 5,000 specimens a day for testing in the last two or three weeks, up from between 3,000 and 3,500 a day over the summer. It can do as many as 10,000 now and are working to get that to above 17,000 by mid-October.

With files from Paola Loriggio in Toronto, Morgan Lowrie in Montreal and Jordan Press in Ottawa.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 15, 2020.

Source:- CTV News

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Toronto shuts down three King Street restaurants after COVID-19 violations – The New Hamburg Independent

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Separately, Toronto Public Health issued a notice Saturday to patrons of Warehouse on Yonge Street, where seven people — five employees and two customers — recently tested positive for the virus. An estimated 1,700 people are believed to have visited the venue between Sept. 10 and 17, and the health unit said it has followed up with all known close contacts during that period. Those who have not been contacted by health officials are considered low risk.

A Toronto resident who asked not to be named told the Star she reported King Taps to public health authorities earlier this week, after socializing with an employee who later informed her they had tested positive for the virus after a workplace exposure.

In response to questions from the Star, a spokesperson for King Taps said it had “absolutely not” pressured any employees to work while sick and it said it goes to “great lengths” to screen workers before each shift. The restaurant is “not aware” of any employees working at multiple establishments.


King Taps is now conducting a deep cleaning of its premises and a “review of on-site practises and protocols.” Its statement said guests who visited the venue on Sept. 6, 9,10 and 11 “may wish to contact Toronto Public Health.”

While the restaurant said it would work with authorities to determine a reopening date, it said it was also “seeking clarification” about the order to close. A company spokesperson forwarded the Star a copy of an audit conducted by TPH dated Sept. 22 that described its health and safety, screening, and disinfection measures as “satisfactory.” The report said “education” was provided about physical distancing measures at the establishment, and that the restaurant was advised to use directional arrows on the floor.

In an Instagram post Friday night, MARBL said it would be closed for the weekend due to “unforeseen circumstances.” In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for the restaurant said it was “fully complying” with health officials’ orders.

“We have done everything within our power to protect staff and guests and now we must reassess and work alongside public health to ensure a safe and prompt reopening. We will be keeping everyone apprised of any updates and next step,” the statement said.

Earlier this summer, MARBL attracted criticism — and an investigation from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario — when a video appeared to show a crowded indoor party that violated COVID-19 regulations. Last week, a staff member tested positive for the virus, according to CP24.

A spokesperson for Casa Mezcal said they could not comment on the order to close.

Toronto reported more than 200 new COVID-19 cases on Friday. According to the Star’s daily count, the city has averaged 167 new cases each day this week, the highest seven-day average since early June. The province moved this week to tighten restrictions on bars and restaurants, including implementing an 11 p.m. last call.

“New data shows that unsafe social activity at a select number of bars and nightclubs is contributing to the rise in COVID-19 cases in our city. That’s why our Medical Officer of Health is taking swift action to shut down four high-risk establishments until further notice,” said Joe Cressy, councillor for Ward 10 Spadina-Fort York and Toronto Board of Health chair.

Earlier in the week, the Board of Health unanimously passed a motion to request detailed, publicly available information on workplace outbreaks from TPH. Medical officer of health Dr. Eileen de Villa said the health unit was exploring how to provide data in “a manner that appropriately protects privacy.”

“Right now, we need to stop the spread of COVID and keep people safe while also making it possible for kids to go to school, people to go to work and public services to operate safely,” Cressy said in a statement Saturday.

“This isn’t easy, but together we can do this.”

Sara Mojtehedzadeh is a Toronto-based reporter covering labour-related issues for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @saramojtehedz

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Quebec reports 698 new COVID-19 cases, seven more deaths – Wiarton Echo

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That’s the highest single-day count since May 21.

Quebec has recorded 698 new cases of COVID-19 — the highest single-day count since May 21 — bringing the province’s total to 71,005 as of Saturday.

Seven new deaths have been reported, all of which occurred between Sept. 19 and 24. The province’s death toll now stands at 5,821.

The number of hospitalizations increased by 18, for a total of 217. Of those, 33 were in intensive care.

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19 new coronavirus cases reported in Saskatchewan, hits single-day testing record – Global News

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Winnipeg police say a woman has died and several other people have been injured in a collision involving a vehicle that was fleeing police.

The crash happened at about 1:30 p.m. Saturday in the area of Salter Street and Boyd Avenue, police said in a statement.

According to police, officers tried to pull over a vehicle for a traffic stop but the driver “took off at a high rate of speed.”

Read more:
Vehicle-pedestrian collision on Portage Ave. leaves one person in critical condition

Seconds later, the vehicle hit another car in the nearby intersection of Andrews Street and Boyd Avenue.

Four people in the vehicle that was struck — including an infant and a child — were sent to hospital.  A woman who was in that vehicle has died from her injuries, police said.

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Two people from the vehicle that had fled police were also transported to hospital.






0:24
No injuries reported after school bus crashes into hydro pole in downtown Winnipeg


No injuries reported after school bus crashes into hydro pole in downtown Winnipeg

The Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba, which investigates serious incidents involving police, has been called to investigate.

In a press conference Saturday evening, Winnipeg Police Const. Rob Carver said that almost everyone in the collision was in either serious or critical condition.

“Incredibly tragic, we’ve got an infant in the vehicle, a child in the vehicle, a woman who was killed in this crash, tragic all around,” said Carver, who also stressed that the incident was not a result of a police pursuit.

A photo of the crash scene near Salter Street and Boyd Avenue.


A photo of the crash scene near Salter Street and Boyd Avenue.


Global News

“We pulled up, we attempted to have this vehicle spoken to, and the vehicle fled. We did not pursue it.”

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For the two people in the fleeing vehicle, Carver said he does not have an idea on their injuries, but that they will at some point be taken into custody “when their medical condition allows for that.”

“In the space of less than half a minute … what started out as a routine incident ended up with multiple people in the hospital and a woman killed, and these people were not connected at all.”

— With files from Global News’ David Lao

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

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