TORONTO — Dr. Theresa Tam urged residents to continue making a “collective effort” to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic on Saturday as parts of the country braced for new rounds of restrictions meant to curb the spread of the virus.
Dr. Theresa Tam issued a statement acknowledging that confusion over appropriate public health measures is understandable in light of the fact that the pandemic is playing out differently across different provinces and territories.
But she stressed that Canadians must “keep our number of in-person close contacts low” and adhere to public health practices.
“There are no quick fixes and COVID-19 is not going away, so public health is focused on making the response sustainable through to the end of the pandemic, balancing the health, social and economic consequences,” Tam said Saturday in a news release.
“What is certain, is that our response requires a collective effort. Everyone’s actions matter.”
Canada continued climbing toward the 200,000 mark for COVID-19 cases, with 196,324 confirmed cases reported Saturday across the country.
Canada also recorded 9,746 deaths related to the virus.
On Friday the Manitoba government announced it would impose increased COVID-19 restrictions in Winnipeg on Monday, while the Ontario government plans to do the same in York Region, north of Toronto.
Restrictions limiting visitors at long-term care homes in the region also took effect as of Saturday, the Ontario government said.
Manitoba reported 85 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, for a total of 3,258, with 1,572 considered recovered and 38 deaths.
With cases spiking there, the province is imposing new restrictions in the greater Winnipeg area, starting Monday and lasting for two weeks.
The new rules in Winnipeg limit gatherings of people to five, and state that beverage rooms, bingo halls and casinos must close. Meanwhile, restaurants, lounges, retail stores, museums and libraries will be limited to half capacity.
In Ontario, which reported 805 new cases of COVID-19 and 10 new deaths related to the virus Saturday, another Toronto-area public health unit has imposed tighter restrictions on local long-term care homes.
The new ban on all but essential visitors and caregivers is in effect in York Region, which is facing an upward trend in COVID-19 cases.
Starting Monday, York Region will also join the province’s other three COVID-19 hot spots in moving back to a modified Stage 2 of pandemic protocol for 28 days.
Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa were placed under similar restrictions amid rising cases a week ago.
The modified Stage 2 includes the closure of gyms and movie theatres, a ban on indoor dining in restaurants or bars, and a cap on public gatherings at 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
Ontario now has a total of 63,713 cases of COVID-19, including 54,686 that are considered resolved and 3,041 deaths.
Quebec continued to post the nighest number of new COVID-19 diagnoses in the country, reporting 1,279 new cases on Saturday.
With different approaches across the country while schools and some businesses remain open, the situation is “complicated” and challenging for individuals, families and public health authorities, Tam said.
But we need to remember that every person we encounter “brings with them a whole network of contacts,” she added.
“So, as much as you can, I urge you to reduce encounters with people outside of your consistent, trusted close contacts,” Tam said.
“I especially urge you to avoid these encounters in crowded and closed settings with limited ventilation. Keeping apart is difficult, but it is what will make us stronger, more resilient and better able to sustain public health efforts through the fall and winter.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 17, 2020.
Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press
School Flu Vaccine Information Coming Soon – VOCM
The regional health authorities are starting to distribute information on free flu shots for students in the school system.
The provincial government announced earlier this month that it would be providing flu shots in schools and long-term care homes to help encourage influenza vaccination rates.
Public health officials are most concerned about the possible strain to the health care system caused by the flu and COVID-19. The flu can seriously affect vulnerable patients. It’s spread was suddenly halted earlier this year due to public health measures imposed.
This year all school staff and students from grades 4 to 12 will be offered flu vaccines at school. Parents will not be accommodated in schools and are being encouraged to make an appointment for their own flu shot at a flu clinic, or through their doctor or local pharmacy. Parents will not be permitted to enter the school to support or comfort their child. If the child does require support, parents are encouraged to take their child to a flu clinic.
Consent forms are in the process of being distributed over the coming days.
As spread slows slightly, OPH wants Ottawans to fine tune their physical distancing – CBC.ca
While the rate of COVID-19 transmission in Ottawa has declined over the last two weeks, Ottawa Public Health is calling on residents to take further measures — albeit small ones — to combat the respiratory virus.
At a virtual news conference on Tuesday, Dr. Vera Etches, the medical officer of health with Ottawa Public Health (OPH), said the virus takes advantage of moments where people let their guard down. Despite the messages about the importance of physical distancing, wearing masks and hand hygiene, Etches said there are situations where people seem to forget themselves.
What’s more, these are often situations where government enforcement doesn’t have jurisdiction — such as in private homes where mandatory mask bylaws don’t apply or at gatherings small enough to be permitted under provincial regulations. Etches referred to these situations as “blind spots.”
“One blind spot is gathering with extended family and larger friend circles and thinking that the risk of COVID-19 isn’t there,” she said. “Another one is socializing before or after a team sport.”
Close contact with people outside your household always poses a risk of transmission, said Etches, no matter who you are.
“People don’t think of these settings like carpooling or meeting up with extended family in the same way they might in terms of going to a gym or going to a bar. So we’re just trying to expand people’s risk assessment.”
Lunch at work often a problem
One of the most common opportunities for COVID-19 transmission is during lunch breaks between colleagues, said Etches.
Coworkers may spend the entire work day safely distancing and wearing a mask, only to sit together and remove their mask to sip coffee or eat lunch, and inadvertently spread the virus.
“Employees having lunch together seems to come up over and over,” she said. “Whether it’s in a health-care setting or a school or a workplace … it is what gives the virus an opportunity to spread.”
Etches said “it’s no one’s fault,” reiterating the virus is often present before people feel sick.
One simple solution is if people have to remove their masks to eat lunch, they ensure they stay at least two metres away from others, she said.
Case numbers in Ottawa improving
While much of September and October was overshadowed by a rise of the second wave, Etches said on Tuesday, there are signs to be hopeful about.
“I want to say congratulations to the people of Ottawa. There are some encouraging indications that we’re having some success,” she said.
Etches said local health officials are still working on their recommendations for the province as to whether they think Ottawa is ready to relax measures.
The province’s Stage 2 modified measures in Ottawa went into effect Oct. 10 and are set to expire by next month. Health Minister Christine Elliott would not say whether the Ottawa will be allowed to transition to Stage 3 or whether the increased restrictions, on things like indoor dining or gyms, will continue.
As Halloween approaches, Etches still recommends families cancel trick-or-treating and parties and opt for virtual celebrations and walks with household members only to see neighbourhood decorations.
Early COVID-19 vaccines 'likely to be imperfect': U.K. Vaccine Taskforce chair – Toronto Sun
U.K. Vaccine Taskforce Chair Kate Bingham said on Tuesday that the first generation of COVID-19 vaccines “is likely to be imperfect” and that they “might not work for everyone.”
“However, we do not know that we will ever have a vaccine at all. It is important to guard against complacency and over-optimism,” Bingham wrote in a piece published in The Lancet medical journal.
“The first generation of vaccines is likely to be imperfect, and we should be prepared that they might not prevent infection but rather reduce symptoms, and, even then, might not work for everyone or for long,” she added.
Bingham wrote that the Vaccine Taskforce recognizes that “many, and possibly all, of these vaccines could fail,” adding the focus has been on vaccines that are expected to elicit immune responses in the population older than 65 years.
She said that the global manufacturing capacity for vaccines is vastly inadequate for the billions of doses that are needed and that the United Kingdom’s manufacturing capability to date has been “equally scarce.”
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