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'Definite increase:' Experts warn against underplaying recent surge in COVID-19 cases – Medicine Hat News



By Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press on October 9, 2020.

Infectious disease specialists say a recent surge in COVID-19 cases that surpasses a spike last spring must not be shrugged off as merely a byproduct of increased testing. Cars line up to be registered at a drive through, pop-up COVID-19 test centre administered by paramedics outside the Canadian Tire Centre, home of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, in Ottawa, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

CALGARY – Infectious disease specialists say a recent surge in COVID-19 cases that surpasses a spike last spring must not be shrugged off as merely a byproduct of increased testing.

“I think minimizing right now is a real mistake,” said Dr. Lynora Saxinger of the University of Alberta.

“People are not wanting to believe that this is a thing, because I think they don’t want to return to the state that we were living in earlier in the year. That’s a dangerous path to take and we should be much more precautionary right now.”

The Canadian Press compiled data posted publicly in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec over one week ending April 21 and another ending Oct. 6 to get a sense of how the two case surges compare.

Daily cases in Alberta were two per cent higher in the most recent period compared with the April week. Ontario’s were 13 per cent higher, Quebec’s were 14 per cent higher and B.C.’s cases were more than triple the mid-to-low, double-digit numbers it experienced in April.

Alberta, an early leader in increased testing, took nearly four times as many swabs during the October week than it did in the April one. B.C’s daily testing grew eightfold, while Ontario and Quebec did about 4 1/2 times as many weekly swabs during the fall week than they did in the spring.

The positivity rate – the percentage of tests that come back positive – in all four provinces has dropped markedly between the spring and fall surges.

Quebec and Ontario don’t officially post historical positivity rates, so The Canadian Press divided the total number of weekly tests by the total number of weekly cases. It’s an imperfect estimate as often there is a lag between when tests are done and cases are recorded by public health.

Quebec, which averaged around 6,300 daily tests and 930 new cases during the April week, had a positivity rate during that period of about 15 per cent.

In the more recent week, when Quebec had five consecutive days with new cases in the quadruple digits, its positivity rate sat at roughly four per cent.

Ontario, which is dealing with a hefty backlog of swabs waiting to be analyzed, posted an official daily positivity rate of two per cent for Oct. 7, down from the roughly six per cent range it had in mid-April.

Alberta’s positivity rate dropped to one per cent from nearly five per cent and B.C.’s fell to 1.3 per cent from four per cent.

Experts say the lower positivity rates now shouldn’t provide comfort.

Early testing was largely limited to people with a handful of specific symptoms and those who came into close contact with them. Tests are now available to a much broader portion of the population and many more mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic cases are being found.

“The threshold for what we consider high on per-cent positivity probably should be considered different now than it was in the spring,” said Saxinger.

Dr. Craig Jenne, an infectious diseases researcher at the University of Calgary, noted that testing among people with no suspected exposure or symptoms in Alberta over the summer unearthed very few new cases. The province has since tightened its asymptomatic testing criteria, limiting it to those at higher risk or with upcoming travel.

“We are still screening asymptomatic people, but these are people we have a reason to believe were exposed and that seems to capture most of the cases in the community,” he said.

Jenne reminded that numbers we’re seeing today reflect viral transmission that happened 10 to 14 days ago.

“So we have to always be reacting to what is coming down the pipe and not necessarily what’s happening today.”

In recent weeks, testing has been relatively stable while cases have trended up.

“There’s been a definite increase in the number of people who are infected. It isn’t just because they’re testing more,” said Dr. Ameeta Singh, an infectious diseases specialist at Edmonton’s Royal Alexandra Hospital and the University of Alberta.

Hospitalization trends are a lagging indicator that experts are eyeing with concern.

In Ontario, for instance, hospitalizations began creeping into the triple digits about two weeks ago and as of Friday, there were 225 people hospitalized.

“Definitely that’s when we start to become a bit more alarmed,” said Singh.

“That’s kind of the tip of the iceberg. It tells you that there’s way more community transmission than you might expect.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 9, 2020

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Kamloops clinic hosts flu vaccination drive-thru | Kamloops News | iNFOnews – iNFOnews



The Orchards Walk Medical Clinic, run by STEPS, has opened a drive-thru flu shot clinic.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / RIH Foundation

October 29, 2020 – 2:18 PM

A Kamloops clinic is offering drive-thru flu vaccinations so that patients can stay in their cars, and stay safe.

The drive-thru is hosted at Orchards Walk Medical Clinic, run by the Supporting Team Excellence with Patients Society, according to a release.

In addition to the permanent team at the clinic, nursing students from Thompson Rivers University are also helping out with vaccinations for the 8,000 plus patients at the clinic.  

“We had read about the success of drive-thru vaccination clinics in Australia and decided to try it out here in Kamloops,” society spokesperson Christine Matuschewski said in a release.

“Although the weather has been unseasonably cold, we were still able to process a significant number of patients over the multiple flu shot clinics we are running.”

The lessons learned from this drive-thru clinic will be shared with other organizations looking to do flu shot clinics, and applied in the future once a COVID-19 vaccine is available.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Brie Welton or call (250) 819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won’t censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above. 

News from © iNFOnews, 2020


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Another record-breaking day for COVID-19 in Manitoba with 193 new cases, 97 hospitalizations –



The COVID-19 pandemic in Manitoba continued its upward climb with another record-breaking day on Thursday. The province set new records for the number of new cases and people in hospital with the virus, with 193 new cases and 97 hospitalizations announced Thursday.

This is the second time in three days the province has set a new record for the most cases in a single day.

The province also announced another death, a man in his 80s from the Southern Health region. This brings the total number of deaths to due to COVID-19 to 62.

The number of hospital patients with COVID-19 in intensive care dropped slightly to 17, down from the record high of 19 set on Wednesday.

Manitoba also broke a new record for its five-day test-positivity rate — a rolling average of the number of COVID-19 tests that come back positive — which climbed to 7.8 per cent, up from the previous high of 7.5 per cent set just two days ago.

Manitoba’s five-day test positivity rate set a new record on Oct. 29, 2020 at 7.8 per cent. (Bryce Hoye/CBC)

Restrictions having little effect

These new records continue the upward trajectory of the pandemic in Manitoba, one day after Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin acknowledged that health orders meant to curve the growth of new cases, particularly in Winnipeg, haven’t had the desired effect, one month after the city moved to the restricted orange level on the province’s pandemic response system.

New restrictions were imposed on Oct. 19 in the Winnipeg metropolitan region, with gathering limits further reduced from 10 to five people and stand-alone bars and nightclubs ordered to close, to little noticeable effect.

“We’re not seeing the the results that we expected with the restrictions,” Roussin said at a news conference Wednesday.

He noted that public health officials continue to see too many cases with large numbers of contacts and people going out while feeling ill. Many recent cases have been linked to Thanksgiving gatherings, Roussin said.

Although he did not announce any new health orders, Roussin has said he may have to if the health care system continues to come under strain and if numbers continue their rapid rise.

In recent days, Roussin has begun urging Manitobans not to socialize with people outside their households. 

On Wednesday, Chief Nursing Officer Lanette Siragusa said that if hospitals in Winnipeg reached capacity patients will be moved between wards and hospitals — and could even be moved to Brandon, Man., as needed.

The number of people with COVID-19 in hospital reached new heights on Oct. 29, 2020 with 97 hospitalizations. (Bryce Hoye/CBC)

Hospitals have begun cancelling surgeries due to staff shortages, some of whom are self-isolating because of exposure to the virus, as well as changes to the rule around use of personal protective equipment. 

In one instance, an entire surgical team was forced to isolate because a patient, who later tested positive, did not disclose that they were a close contact of a known case.

There are currently 37 active cases of COVID-19 among health-care workers in Manitoba, with 32 in Winnipeg.

Outbreaks in school, health centre, seniors centre

An outbreak has also been declared at Collège Louis Riel, where students have been sent home Wednesday after four new cases were confirmed at the school.

The number of confirmed cases at the school has now risen to seven and 10 cohorts are self-isolating, as well as other staff and students, the provincal government said in a news release.

All students have switched to remote learning and the school has moved to the restricted orange level on the province’s pandemic response system, while health officials are investigating the sources of infection.

Manitoba reported 193 new COVID-19 cases on Oct. 29, setting a new record for the most new cases announced in a single day. (Bryce Hoye/CBC)

An outbreak at St. Boniface Hospital has grown to 36 people, three more than on Wednesday, with 25 patients and 11 staff members infected. The outbreak has been linked to three deaths.

Meanwhile, an outbreak at Victoria General Hospital has increased by nine cases, with 28 patients and 21 staff members infected. One person linked to that outbreak died after being transferred to St. Boniface Hospital.

Health officials also declared outbreaks at the Bethesda Regional Health Centre in Steinbach and the the KeKiNan Centre Inc. assisted living facility in Winnipeg. 

A total of 16 personal care homes in Manitoba have active COVID-19 outbreaks, with 247 cases and 27 deaths.

Parkview Place in Winnipeg, site of the deadliest outbreak in a Manitoba care home, had 126 cases among staff and residents, with 19 deaths, as of Tuesday, according to provincial data.

At the Maples Personal Care Home in Winnipeg, the second-largest care home outbreak in the province, 76 residents and staff have tested positive, although none have died as of Thursday afternoon.

The bulk of the new cases are in the Winnipeg Health region at 139. The Interlake-Eastern Health region has 21 new cases, 19 in the Southern Health region, 10 in the Northern Health region, and four in Prairie Mountain Health region.

The province plans to open a new drive-thru testing site near CF Polo Park at Manitoba Public Insurance building at 125 King Edward St. on Oct. 31. It will be open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

On Wednesday, labs completed a total of 3,375 COVID-19 tests. 

More possible exposures

Manitoba health officials warned of more possible COVID-19 exposures on Thursday:


  • Oct. 12 to 16, 19 and 20: Kidz Korner Infant Childcare Inc. (3708 Roblin Blvd.).
  • Oct. 13: Busy Bee Day Care Centre Inc. (646 – 648 McGee St.). This possible exposure was previously announced, now a case has been confirmed.
  • Oct. 14 and 15: Linwood School.
  • Oct. 16: Elmwood High School.
  • Oct. 18: Marks Work Warehouse (1580 Regent Ave W).
  • Oct. 19 and 20: Miles Macdonell Collegiate.
  • Oct. 20 and 21:
    • École Garden Grove.
    • General Wolfe School (661 Banning St.).
    • Winnipeg Transit Route #15, from Kennedy Street to Sargent Avenue, 8:25 a.m. to 8:40 a.m., and from Sargent Avenut to Kennedy Street, 3:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • Oct. 28: Collége Louis-Riel.

The Pas

  • Oct. 16 and 20: Margaret Barbour Collegiate 
  • Oct. 20: New Avenue Hotel Bar (404 Fischer Ave.)
  • Oct. 19 and 20: Opasquia Elementary School

Ile des Chênes

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Disease experts raising alarm about Manitoba’s growing COVID-19 crisis – Global News



As Manitoba’s COVID-19 case count continues to rise — including another record-setting day Thursday — infectious disease experts are raising alarm bells over the province’s growing coronavirus threat.

Dr. Jason Kindrachuk of the University of Manitoba’s department of medical microbiology said the situation is dire.

“I don’t think there’s any way that we can sugarcoat it or walk around those terms,” he said.

“The overall positivity rate in Manitoba is on par with what they’re seeing nationally in the U.S., and in the past, we’ve looked at the U.S. as being kind of an out-of-control situation.

“This situation is not just going to take care of itself.”

Kindrachuk said Manitoba has moved past the point of personal responsibility, as the virus is starting to have a big impact on health-care centres — as well as health-care workers — across the province, but especially in Winnipeg.

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“I think there need to be some tougher restrictions,” he said.

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“We need help and we need it quick.”

Read more:
COVID-19 pandemic means bleak times for Manitoba restaurants, according to new survey

Winnipeg epidemiologist Cynthia Carr had similar thoughts Wednesday.

Carr said she’s not encouraged that the province is starting to round the corner on the disease.

“Unfortunately, we’re seeing significant community-based spread still. I’m still looking at the seven-day averages of new cases going up all across Manitoba — we’ve had 2,200 new cases just since Thanksgiving weekend.

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“We’re still in a challenging situation, but we can turn this around.”

Carr said she hopes, for the sake of the province’s economic and social well-being, that we’re not headed toward another shutdown, but “nothing is off the table.”

“When you take that party to your home, just because the bar or restaurant is closed, you’re sabotaging you, your friends, your family, and those businesses that are following the rules and staying closed.”

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

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