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

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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

Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press

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News Releases | COVID-19 Bulletin #232 – news.gov.mb.ca

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Need More Info?

Public information, contact Manitoba Government Inquiry: 1-866-626-4862 or 204-945-3744.

Media requests for general information, contact Communications Services Manitoba: 204-945-3765.

Media requests for ministerial comment, contact Communications and Stakeholder Relations: 204-794-0732.

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October 25, 2020 – Update on COVID-19 from Dr. Theresa Tam – Net Newsledger

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OTTAWA – In lieu of an in-person update to the media, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, issued the following statement today:

“As the resurgence of COVID-19 activity continues in Canada, we are tracking a range of epidemiological indicators to monitor where the disease is most active, where it is spreading and how it is impacting the health of Canadians and public health, laboratory and healthcare capacity. The following is the latest summary on national numbers and trends, and the actions we all need to be taking to maintain COVID-19 at manageable levels across the country.

Since the first cases were reported in March 2020, there have been 211,732 cases of COVID-19, including 9,888 deaths reported in Canada; these cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date. Though the cumulative number is high and continues to increase, it is important to remember that the vast majority of Canadians remain susceptible to COVID-19. This is why it is important for everyone to continue with individual precautions that will keep ourselves, our families and our communities safer.

At this time, there are 23,965 active cases across the country. The latest national-level data indicate daily averages of 2,488 new cases (Oct 16-22) and 74,719 people tested, with 3.1% testing positive (Oct 11-17). Outbreaks continue to contribute to COVID-19 spread in Canada. These vary in size from just a few cases to larger clusters occurring in a range of settings including long term care and assisted living facilities, schools, congregate living settings, industrial work settings and large social gatherings. Larger clusters tell us those closed and crowded settings and/or not sufficiently maintaining public health practises, such as physical distancing and mask-wearing, can amplify spread of the virus.

The number of people experiencing severe illness continues to increase. Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 1,010 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Oct 16-22), including 209 of whom were being treated in intensive care units. During the same period, there was an average of 23 COVID-19-related deaths reported daily.

As hospitalisations and deaths tend to lag behind increased disease activity by one to several weeks, the concern is that we have yet to see the extent of severe impacts associated with the ongoing increase in COVID-19 disease activity. As well, influenza and respiratory infections typically increase during the Fall and Winter, placing increased demands on hospitals. This is why it is so important for people of all ages to maintain public health practises that keep respiratory infection rates low.

Canada needs a collective effort to sustain the public health response through to the end of the pandemic, while balancing the health, social and economic consequences. We can all do our part by keeping our number of in-person close contacts low and committing to proven effective public health practises; stay home/self-isolate if you have any symptoms, maintain physical distancing, wear a face mask as appropriate, and keep up with hand, cough and surface hygiene. Canadians can also go the extra mile by sharing credible information on COVID-19 risks and prevention practises and measures to reduce COVID-19 in communities and by downloading the COVID Alert app to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

Read my backgrounder to access more COVID-19 Information and Resources on ways to reduce the risks and protect yourself and others.”

 

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B.C. flu vaccine: Here's what you need to know – Vancouver Sun

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Getting a flu shot this year is more important than ever due to the ongoing spread of COVID-19. Receiving the flu vaccine can protect you and others around you from the spread of influenza.

Who should get a flu shot?

Health officials recommend that everyone six months of age and older should get a yearly vaccination, particularly if you or someone in close contact with you is considered high-risk, such as children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with medical conditions.

Those who work in health care or who spend time in care homes or health-care settings should also get the vaccine.

Is the flu shot free or will I have to pay?

The flu shot is publicly funded and free for those who are eligible. The full list of eligible individuals is available online here but includes:

• Anyone at high risk of serious illness such as children, pregnant women, seniors over the age of 65, residents in care homes, etc.

• People able to transmit or spread influenza to those who are high risk such as household contacts of high-risk individuals or care workers.

• Essential workers such as police officers, firefighters, paramedics and corrections workers.

To find out if you are eligible, talk to your healthcare provider to call HealthLink B.C. at 811.

If you are not eligible for a free vaccine, it can be purchased at most pharmacies and travel clinics. Some employers also provide the vaccine free to employees and may set up a flu clinic.

Where can I get the flu shot?

The free flu vaccine is available from public-health clinics, some doctors’ offices and most pharmacies.

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