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Dr. Theresa Tam presents pair of infection-rate scenarios, warns of COVID-19 cases continuing into 2022 – The Globe and Mail



Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam during a news conference in Ottawa, Aug. 14, 2020.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Canada’s Public Health Agency has warned of a potential fall peak in COVID-19 cases that could reach higher numbers of new infections than ever before and overwhelm the health care system.

In a news conference on Friday, Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam presented new projections of infection rates in which the “reasonable, worst-case scenario” showed a large peak in the fall and “peaks and valleys” continuing into 2022 that would at times exceed the public-health system’s capacity to manage.

Dr. Tam also presented an alternative scenario she described as a “slow burn,” with continuous low rates of infection into 2022 that hospitals and health-care centres could manage. She said it is too early to predict which path Canada is on.

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“The take-home message is that the fate is still within our hands, and what we do now will influence the probability for that fall peak,” Dr. Tam said.

Short-term modelling projections based on current case numbers indicate that by Aug. 23, the number of cases could be as high as 127,740, up from the current total of 121,650. Deaths are predicted to be as high as 9,115.

Dr. Tam said that as restrictions are lifted, she expects a resurgence in cases until treatments or vaccines become available, but that the goal will be to keep rates low and manageable.

She stressed that while some restrictions are loosened, others need to be tightened to prevent increases in infections. The rapid detection and isolation of cases, and adherence to physical distancing and protective measures among the public are the most important factors in limiting the spread, she said.

“Lifting restrictive public-health measures like school and business closures without strengthening these other controls will likely cause the epidemic to rebound.”

Dr. Tam also said the fall flu season is expected to occur along with the pandemic, and health officials plan to manage a potential “convergence” of viral activity.

The data released by the federal public health agency also showed a high rate of cases in young adults aged 20-39 since mid-July, supporting previous data from provincial agencies that indicate many outbreaks were linked to indoor gatherings of young people who did not practise adequate physical distancing.

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On Friday, Toronto Public Health warned that up to 550 people could have come into contact with the virus at the Brass Rail strip club, which had an employee who tested positive the previous weekend.

However, the federal data also showed that the highest number of outbreaks continues to be linked to long-term care homes and seniors’ residences, followed by restaurants, bars and retail establishments.

Some experts warn that if cases surge, more restrictions and more closings of businesses, schools and community spaces could be required.

Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases physician at Toronto General Hospital, said regional public health units should “absolutely” consider reimposing restrictions if numbers climb.

“If there’s an unacceptable number of new cases, the public health units could certainly clamp back down,” he said.

Dr. Bogoch said restrictions would likely be decided at the regional or provincial level, based on local numbers and projections. Factors that could influence the decision might include challenges with tracing people’s contacts quickly, evidence of widespread community transmission, or a high percentage of tests coming back positive in a region.

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But he added that many of the countries that have been most successful at keeping cases low have tightened restrictions after an initial phase of reopening.

“Every country that Canada points to that has been successful managing this – Japan, Germany, Australia, South Korea – all of these countries have had a rise in cases after they got their epidemic under control, and all of these countries reimposed many public-health restrictions to some extent to get their infection under control,” Dr. Bogoch said.

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COVID-19: Etches says 'second wave' has begun but can be controlled; City readying more test centres, mayor says – Ottawa Citizen



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Watson said he’s been told by health officials that up to 90 per cent of people in the lines have no symptoms.

Watson said Ottawa Public Health has stepped up to help, but the primary responsibility for testing is with the hospital network.

“To their credit now, and I’ve talked to all four hospital presidents, they understand the urgency and frustration and they have to get this problem fixed.”

While the city remains in an emergency situation, Watson said there’s no need for logistical assistance from the military as there are no additional sites yet to set up testing facilities.

Meanwhile, two schools in Ottawa will be visited by mobile COVID-19 testing sites this weekend, with tests made available only for staff and students with symptoms or those at the school who’ve been identified as high-risk contacts of a confirmed case and haven’t yet been tested.

One of the pop-up sites appears to be Collège catholique Franco-Ouest, a French Catholic high school in Nepean where the province has reported three cases of COVID-19 among students.

The second site, for staff and students at De La Salle High School, has been set up at Jules Morin Park and will also operate Friday through Sunday, according to an OPH notice to families. Two people associated with De La Salle, including one staff member, have tested positive for COVID-19 according to provincial data.

In a statement to this newspaper, Ontario Health explained that three mobile testing teams have been deployed to Ottawa “to targeted areas with known prevalence,” including some schools where students have tested positive for COVID-19.

“Ottawa Public Health is supporting these teams by working with the schools and families to determine who might need a test at the schools. It’s important that the public do not seek out these pop-ups as they have a limited capacity and are focused on targeting the school population.”

The location of these mobile teams “could change in the coming days and weeks depending on need; they may continue to target schools or other specific centres with known prevalence – or they may set up near an assessment centre that’s experiencing very high volumes in order to better support a broader population.”

Ontario Health will be working with local partners to “identify new places that might benefit from these teams,” the statement noted.

The third team appears to have set up Friday at the Heron Road care clinic to add additional testing capacity at this location.

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One-hour British DnaNudge COVID-19 test is accurate, study finds – Reuters UK



LONDON (Reuters) – A British COVID-19 test known as DnaNudge that gives results in just over an hour and which requires no laboratory was accurate in almost all cases, an academic review in the Lancet has found.

Slideshow ( 3 images )

Faster testing could allow more people to return to work or permit testing on entry to hospital, thus slowing a second spike in coronavirus infections.

The new test, based on the design of a DNA test developed by a professor at Imperial College London, received approval for clinical use by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) at the end of April after successful trials.

In a study in The Lancet Microbe, the test was found to have an average sensitivity – the ability to correctly identify those with COVID-19 – of 94.4% and a specificity – correctly identifying those without the disease – of 100%.

“These results suggest that the CovidNudge test, which can be performed at a patient’s bedside without the need to handle any sample material, has comparable accuracy to standard laboratory testing,” Professor Graham Cooke, lead author of the study from the Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial College London, said.

The Lancet paper described the test, which requires one nostril swab, as “a sensitive, specific, and rapid point of care test for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 without laboratory handling or sample pre-processing”.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told LBC radio that Britain was rolling out the tests across hospitals.

“The critical thing in terms of usefulness is that the machine doesn’t need to be in a lab – it is about the size of a shoebox – therefore you can put one, say, in an A&E (accident and emergency) department and they can know whether people coming in have got the coronavirus or not,” Hancock said.

Hancock said the machines could also be deployed at other locations such as schools.

Each box can run one test at a time so could process about 16 tests per day, said a spokeswoman for the company that produces the tests.

For the text of the Lancet paper: here

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Kate Holton and Gareth Jones

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Nine deaths linked to COVID-19 at Ottawa long-term care home – CTV Edmonton



Nine residents of an Ottawa long-term care home have died due to COVID-19 in the most serious outbreak of novel coronavirus in Ottawa in months.

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, West End Villa confirms that nine residents have passed away from complications related to COVID-19.

“As of (Friday), there have been 52 cases of COVID-19 among residents, and 26 cases among staff, including one agency employee,” said Kelly Keeler, Administrator at West End Villa.

“All employee who have testing positive are isolating at home. Three residents are being treated in hospital and four resident cases have been resolved.”

Keeler says West End Villa is working with Ottawa Public Health and will remain in “close contact” with family members.

Earlier this week, West End Villa said a second round of COVID-19 surveillance testing had been conducted to help ensure cohorting efforts are as effective as possible.

Ottawa Public Health declared a COVID-19 outbreak at West End Villa on Aug. 30. 

The first novel coronavirus outbreak at West End Villa in May saw one staff member test positive for novel coronavirus. 

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