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Five more deaths, 297 new COVID-19 cases as Alberta total surpasses 4,000 – The Loop



There have been five more deaths and 297 new cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, the province’s top doctor announced Friday.

It drives the total of confirmed cases to 4,017, with the death toll now at 72 people. Nearly 1,400 people have recovered from the disease and more than 114,000 people have been tested in the province.

Of the five deaths, three occurred in long-term care facilities, according to Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw.

Among the new cases are three COVID-19 infections in a First Nations community within the Calgary zone, Hinshaw said. Infected individuals are self-isolating.

Alberta Health Services is also investigating two new cases at the Mountain View Poultry processing plant in Okotoks.

AHS has put supports in place for the plant to prevent the spread of the disease, she said.

Hinshaw was asked about Edmonton’s only COVID-19 outbreak at the Kensington long-term care facility, which has seen 29 cases of COVID-19 and three deaths.

“Absolutely that’s a concern for us,” she said. “I want to remind people that because the incubation period can be up to two weeks, we can see some new cases at these facilities even after control measures have been put in place.”

She said she’s heard anger and disappointment from Albertans since clarifying rules around physical distancing and limits on gatherings would apply to all summer festivals.

That was followed by another series of festival cancellation announcements including the Edmonton Heritage Festival and Canada Day fireworks in Edmonton and Calgary. Both cities’ marquee summer events, the Calgary Stampede and K-Days, announced cancellations Thursday.

Hinshaw acknowledged recent modelling projections may have given the public the impression infections will subside over summer.

“That is not the case,” she said. “The virus that causes COVID-19 will be with us for many months to come, and the relatively low case numbers we are seeing in most of the provinces are the result of our collective efforts and sacrifices.”

She used the Edmonton curling bonspiel that resulted in dozens of medical professionals including doctors becoming infected as an example of how easily the virus spreads from a single person.

“Of the 73 people who attended that event, 40, ended up with COVID-19,” she said. “We have had other social events where over 80 per cent of attendees were infected, and the common theme in all of these is that the source did not know they had COVID.”

Hinshaw also addressed outbreaks at the Cargill meat processing plant near High River, where as of Thursday 480 workers had been infected, and JBS Foods in Brooks, where 124 people tested positive.

Cargill has suspended its operations while JBS Foods has remained open with fewer shifts and increased prevention measures.

Asked what it would take for JBS to shut down, Hinshaw said “we cannot look at a single worksite in isolation of what’s happening in the lives of the people who work there.”

She emphasized measures being taken by the plant like having fewer employees there at any given time, physical distancing and symptom checks.

Earlier, Hinshaw stressed the importance of supporting workers at both plants.

“For example, those affected by the outbreak in High River, not everyone who works at Cargill is a close contact or a confirmed case. There is no reason to assume that everyone connected to that facility is infected,” she said. “These individuals are not in mandated isolation, unless they are a confirmed case or a close contact.”

She said those workers shouldn’t be restricted from going into grocery stores or banks.

“The people who are affected by this outbreak are experiencing many difficulties, and they need support and compassion, as we work to stop to further the spread,” she said. “The same is true of all those working at continuing care sites experiencing outbreaks, including healthcare workers.”

Hinshaw said the government will post healthcare worker case numbers on its website beginning next week. While those numbers may give the impression doctors and nurses are at a greater risk of spreading the virus, “this is not the case,” she said, because they take hygiene and sanitization very seriously.

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B.C. health officials say quick steps taken to help protect care homes – Prince George Citizen



VICTORIA — The deaths of two more COVID-19 patients at long-term care homes in B.C. were mourned by provincial health officials Thursday, but they said lives may have been saved by the province’s quick response to the pandemic.

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said measures to fight COVID-19 possibly contributed to holding the number of deaths to less than 100 at long-term care homes while other provinces recorded thousands of fatalities.

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“We don’t know the specific impact of the measures, but we know the large measures that have been taken have had positive effect,” Dix said at a news conference.

He said B.C. ensured workers were able to be employed at a single care home, personal protective equipment was made available to workers, special health teams were brought in at the first signs of COVID-19 and visits were restricted at the homes.

“I think that B.C., though, can be proud of its long-term care workers,” said Dix. “We’ve adopted from the beginning a team B.C. approach to how we deal with this issue. I am, of course, saddened that we’ve lost 93 people, residents who live in long-term care.”

B.C. reported nine new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, bringing the provincial total to 2,558 people diagnosed with the virus. The total number of COVID-19 deaths stood at 164 people and 2,153 people have recovered from the disease.

Henry said efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care homes is difficult but the province has been applying the many lessons it learned in an early outbreak at North Vancouver’s Lynn Valley Care Centre.

She said it was difficult to estimate how effective B.C.’s prevention measures were at the homes.

“We can only by analogy look at what happens in other places,” Henry said.

Thousands of residents at long-term care facilities in Quebec and Ontario have died of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, specialized health teams have been sent to fight COVID-19 outbreaks at two Metro Vancouver long-term care homes.

The Fraser Health Authority appointed a pandemic response director on Thursday at Langley Lodge, where more than 20 people have died from the virus in recent weeks.

It also sent extra staff to Nicola Lodge in Port Coquitlam after one resident tested positive Wednesday for COVID-19, said Dr. Martin Lavoie, Fraser Health’s chief medical health officer. The resident was placed in isolation at the lodge, he said.

“Over the past several weeks we’ve been supporting and offering guidance to Langley Lodge in different ways,” Lavoie said at a news conference.

“Today, we’re talking further action and we have appointed our own director of pandemic response to provide oversight of the COVID-19 response at Langley Lodge and also to further support the facility leadership and staff.”

The lodge website says it is a not-for-profit registered charity run by the Langley Care Society.

It says the lodge in Langley provides long-term care for adults who can no longer live safely or independently at home because of their health-care needs. The lodge includes 121 funded spaces and 14 private pay spaces.

An official at the lodge referred questions about the COVID-19 outbreak to Fraser Health.

Lavoie said the COVID-19 outbreak at the lodge has been difficult to control.

“It is our hope that these additional measures will support the site in controlling this complex outbreak,” he said. “We’re taking all the necessary steps to minimize the exposure to and transmission of COVID-19.”

Lavoie said extra nurses and staff are being called in along with infection control specialists who will use a specialized ultraviolet germ sterilization machine.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 28, 2020.

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COVID-19 case identified at second Port Coquitlam seniors home – The Record (New Westminster)



A resident at a Port Coquitlam long-term care facility has tested positive for COVID-19, marking the third seniors care home in the Tri-Cities with at least one case of the coronavirus. 

Fraser Health identified the case at Nicola Lodge Wednesday, May 27, and the resident has been put into isolation at the facility.

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“This facility outbreak is a recent one. We’re still looking into it,” said Fraser Health’s top doctor, Dr. Martin Lavoie. 

Fraser Health does not currently know how the virus entered the facility.

Lavoie added that Fraser Health is in the process of investigating whether anyone has been in contact with the infected resident. Meanwhile, Fraser Health SWAT teams have implemented “enhanced control measures.”

The case marks a third flare up of the novel coronavirus in a Tri-City care home and the only active case in such a facility after the Shaughnessy and Dufferin care homes had their outbreaks declared over in recent weeks.

Nicola Lodge also marks the 17th seniors homes run by Sienna Living that has identified at least one case of COVID-19, according to a tally on their website. Most are in Ontario, including the Altamont Care Community in Scarborough, one of five seniors homes singled out in a recent report by the Canadian Armed Forces, which had been sent in to aid staff. 

The report, released Tuesday, details “horrific” allegations of insect infestations, aggressive resident feeding that caused choking, bleeding infections, and residents crying for help for hours across the five facilities.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford called it “the most heart-wrenching report” he’s ever read in his life, according to a report by the Canadian Press.

At Sienna Living’s Altamont Care Community, the report detailed several allegations of neglect, including residents not receiving three-meals a day, bed sores worn through ligament and tissue to the bone and dangerous errors in administering medication. 

The military said it brought in its own food to make sure residents were fed.

— with files from the Canadian Press

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Two more deaths, eight cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa while local resolved rate hits new high –



Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is reporting two more local deaths related to COVID-19, but it’s also seeing a higher resolved rate of cases than ever before.

The local death toll is now at 240.

Eight new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the community on Thursday brings Ottawa’s total to 1,930 to date. Of those, 1,544 have been resolved, putting the city’s resolved rate at 80 per cent for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

Due to a lack of community testing, OPH says the overall case count could be anywhere from five to 30 times higher than what has been recorded. Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches is urging anyone with even the slightest of symptoms to get tested. Residents who are asymptomatic, but would like to be tested are also welcome at the assessment centre at Brewer Arena or at one of the COVID-19 care clinics.

There are 37 Ottawa residents with COVID-19 currently in hospital and 18 outbreaks in local institutions. 

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