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Fort McMurray reports six recoveries, nine new cases; FMCSD reports more cases at schools – Fort McMurray Today

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Elsie Yanik Catholic School in Parsons Creek in Fort McMurray, Alta. on May 16, 2018. Laura Beamish/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network

Alberta Health Services (AHS) has announced a COVID-19 outbreak at Sister Mary Phillips, making it the third school in Fort McMurray to have an outbreak.

The outbreak was announced Wednesday after two people tested positive for COVID-19.

On Thursday, FMCSD announced a third person had tested positive for COVID-19 at Holy Trinity High School, where an outbreak on Sept. 20.

On the same day, a second case was recorded at Elsie Yanik Catholic School, while St. Martha School identified its first case.

Contact tracing is still being conducted, but in all cases health officials say there is no evidence the cases come from in-school transmission.

AHS has allowed the schools to remain open.

In her Thursday update, Dr. Deena Hinshaw assured Albertans that schools remain safe for students.

Since schools started earlier this month, Hinsahw said Alberta has seen a week-over-week decrease in cases per week in school-aged children.

“I remind everyone that although two confirmed cases in a school may qualify as an outbreak, it is not a sign that a school is unsafe,” she said.

To date, there are 32 outbreaks in schools across the province and 163 active cases related to schools.

Hinshaw also addressed Wednesday’s report on opioid deaths in Alberta, which found opioids killed more Albertans between April and June than COVID-19 has since March.

Health officials blamed the social and economic fallout of lockdowns for the surge in deaths.

“The rise in deaths from opioid poisoning is reminder that the ripple effects of COVID-19 are large and that we need to continue seeking a balance in our response,” said Hinshaw.

“We must embrace two needs at once. The need in minimize the impact of COVID-19 and to minimize the impact that these restrictions have on the rest of our health.”

Provincial COVID-19 updates for September 24:

  • A total of 17,190 people have been infected with the virus. The earliest known COVID-19 case in Alberta was detected in a blood sample collected on Feb. 24. The first case was announced on March 5.
  • Of those cases, 15,467 people have recovered, or roughly 89.9 per cent of all cases.
  • There were 158 new cases reported across Alberta in the last 24 hours.
  • There are 1,462 active cases in Alberta.
  • There are 58 cases hospitalized, with 14 people fighting the virus in intensive care units.
  • There has been one new death related to COVID-19, bringing Alberta’s total to 261.
  • 8,371 tests for COVID-19 were completed in the last 24 hours.
  • To date, 1,255,039 tests for COVID-19 have been carried out on 958,534 people.

COVID-19 in Fort McMurray:

  • There were six new recoveries in Fort McMurray in the past 24 hours, bringing the total recoveries to 194 since the first case was reported in the city on March 19.
  • There were nine new active cases in Fort McMurray in the past 24 hours, bringing the known total to 48.
  • There has been one death related to COVID-19 in Fort McMurray reported since Sept. 8.

COVID-19 in rural areas:

  • No new COVID-19 cases were recorded in Wood Buffalo’s rural areas in the past 24 hours, keeping the total active cases at four.
  • There were no new recoveries in Wood Buffalo’s rural areas in the past 24 hours, keeping the total at 61 recoveries.
  • AHS has not confirmed which rural communities had active COVID-19 cases, only community leaders have.
  • Fort McKay’s First Nation and Métis leaders have made it mandatory to wear masks in the community.
  • There have been no deaths related to COVID-19 in the RMWB’s rural areas.

Local COVID-19 outbreaks:

  • Information on school outbreaks can be found online from Alberta Health Services. No school in Wood Buffalo has been ordered to close.
  • Information on workplace outbreaks can be found online from Alberta Health Services.
  • An outbreak at Canadian Natural’s Albian site was declared after five workers tested positive for the virus on Aug. 13.
  • A precautionary outbreak was declared at the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre’s Medical unit when a patient tested positive on Aug. 21.
  • An outbreak at the Syncrude sites north of Fort McMurray was declared on Sept. 3 when 11 workers tested positive for the virus. As of Sept. 14, 15 workers have COVID-19 while 13 have recovered.
  • An outbreak at Suncor’s base plant was declared on Sept. 4 after five workers tested positive for the virus.
  • An outbreak at Earls Kitchen and Bar on Morrison Street was declared on Sept. 14. As of Sept. 23, all staff have recovered. The restaurant has been allowed to remain open.
  • An outbreak at Holy Trinity High School and St. Gabriel’s School was declared on Sept. 20. At both schools, at least two people tested positive for the virus.
  • An outbreak was declared at Sister Mary Phillips School on Sept. 23. There have been two positive cases for COVID-19 reported in relation to the school.
  • St. Martha School reported its first COVID-19 case on Sept. 24. 
  • Two positive cases at Elsie Yanik Catholic School were reported on Sept. 24. 
  • An outbreak is declared when five people at a public site, such as a workplace, test positive for COVID-19. At continuing care centres, the number is two. However, AHS chose to declare a precautionary outbreak when one person tested positive for the virus at the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre.
  • An outbreak is over when no new COVID-19 cases have been reported after 30 days.

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Winnipeg students devastated after COVID restrictions silence school choirs – CBC.ca

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Hundreds of students in Winnipeg have been ordered by the provincial government to stop singing — something a choir teacher says was an ill-informed decision impacting the mental health of students.

“I was just so extremely disappointed because I do not believe the decision was based upon solid ground,” said Maples Collegiate choral teacher Dorothy Dyck.

Since Oct. 26, schools in the Winnipeg metropolitan area and northern Manitoba have been under a code orange in the province’s pandemic response system.

One of the new rules is that indoor choir and the use of wind instruments are not permitted.

That decision is affecting 250 students at Maples Collegiate who participate in six choirs, Dyck said.

Dyck said she doesn’t think Manitoba’s health officials knew all the precautions her school has taken.

“We didn’t get any directive from the province at all,” she said. “We had to figure it out, and so we did. We spent all summer reading, and researching, and waiting for these studies to come out,” she said.

In August, two studies, one from the University of Colorado and one from the University of Cincinnati, looked at how aerosols were spread while singing and playing instruments.

“Out of these studies, things were brought forward for keeping singing as safe as possible, and that’s what we were doing,” Dyck said.

Singing with masks on for 30 minutes in the gym

Along with singing in masks, the rehearsal time was also limited to 30 minutes, something the study out of Colorado found dropped the rate of infection from 87 per cent down to just 12.

The Maples choirs also moved to the gymnasium so everyone could spread out in an open space.

Dyck said the school division’s head of maintenance climbed up into the vents of the gym to get information about the ductwork. A math teacher calculated the air ventilation to determine air was being exchanged every five minutes.

We are as safe as any other activity.​​​​​– Dorothy Dyck, Maples Collegiate choral teacher

“No one is saying that we can guarantee that things are completely safe,” Dyck said. “We now can point to those numbers and know that we are as safe as any other activity.”

A spokesperson for the provincial government says its guidelines on music are based on multiple reports globally where participation in a choir was associated with “super-spreader” events, where COVID-19 was spread to many people.

“Infected people may transmit the virus over greater distances through their saliva or respiratory droplets while singing,” the spokesperson wrote.

To date, there have been three confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Maples Collegiate, principal Scott Shier said.

Dyck said the province should take a second look at how schools were running their choirs, rather than just banning them outright.

“They’re kids that are just trying to find their voices,” she said.

She says she worries the pandemic is affecting the mental health of students.

“We see their dead eyes. Their body language: they’re slumped forward, their arms are limp, they don’t really raise their hands when they’re asking questions,” she said.

“We’ve really worked hard at trying to use choir and trying to use singing as breathing life into their bodies and changing their eyes, and we had just started to see some real progress.”

‘Devastated’ at province’s decision

Jashdane Santiago, a Grade 11 student and member of three choirs, said she’s struggling to accept that she can’t sing in choir anymore.

“I was very much devastated,” Santiago said.

Jashdane Santiago, singing in the gymnasium this fall, says choir made her feel like she was flying. Now she says it feels like her wings have been clipped. (Submitted by Jashdane Santiago)

“Being in choir feels like you’re flying. But then with the news saying that you can’t sing anymore, it just felt like the wings that I’ve been flying with were just clipped,” she said.

The choirs already can’t perform, so it was an extra blow to have their rehearsals taken away, she said.

“Everyone had really high hopes that we could still do what we would normally do, but just a bit different than before.”

Javen Cabrera, a Grade 12 student, said he didn’t take the news well either.

“It was heartbreaking,” Cabrera said. “I was confused, hurt, and really angry.”

The pair said they would be happy to take any extra precautions if it meant they could keep singing.

“Singing with other people reminds me that I’m not alone,” Cabrera said.

The superintendent for Seven Oaks School Division said the they are in discussions with the province about the new rules.

“We’re trying to make the province aware of some of the measures the teachers have taken. We’re doing everything we can to keep a strong program going,” Brian O’Leary said.

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3 deaths, 170 new COVID-19 cases in Manitoba as hospitalizations continue to rise – CBC.ca

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A man in his 40s from the Interlake-Eastern Health region is one of three more people with COVID-19 who have died in Manitoba, while 170 more people have tested positive for the virus, Manitoba public health officials announced Wednesday.

A man in his 80s linked to the outbreak at Victoria General Hospital in Winnipeg and a woman in her 80s from the Interlake-Eastern Health region linked to an outbreak at the Misericordia Place care home are the two other people who died. 

That brings the death toll from the coronavirus in the province to 61 since the start of the pandemic.

Health officials continue to see cases linked to people not following public health advice by attending large gatherings and leaving their homes even though they have symptoms, Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said at a news conference Wednesday.

Many cases have been linked to Thanksgiving and other gatherings where people are often sharing items such as vape pens, Roussin said.

In one example, seven cases were linked to the same Thanksgiving dinner. 

Other cases have been linked to people travelling to different parts of the province to visit family, “only to bring the virus with them,” he said.

“And so we can see how our close contacts can quickly become cases and more contacts.”

Hospitalizations climb to new heights

The number of hospitalizations and intensive care patients set new records on Wednesday, with 89 people in hospital, 19 of them in intensive care. That’s up from the previous record of 83 set on Tuesday, when 15 people were in the ICU.

“The capacity is continuing to be further stretched,” Chief Nursing Officer Lanette Siragusa said at the news conference, with ICU capacity at 92 per cent, which is higher than it was on Monday.

There are still beds for patients and supplies, she said.

“Our most precious resource right now is our staff,” she said.

A total of 43 surgeries have been cancelled, some because staff are isolating due to exposure to the virus, others because of changes meant to protect staff, Siragusa said. 

Manitoba’s five-day test-positivity rate — the rolling average of the number of COVID-19 tests that come back positive — is 7.3, down slightly from the record high of 7.5 on Tuesday.

The announcement of 170 cases is the third highest number the province has recorded.

Most of the new cases are in the Winnipeg health region, where 117 people have tested positive. There are 26 new cases in the Interlake-Eastern health region, 18 in the Southern Health region, six in the Northern Health region, and three in the Prairie Mountain Health region.

A total of 4,701 people in Manitoba have tested positive for the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic. Provincial health data shows 2,334 active cases and 2,306 people recovered, although health officials have said that active case numbers are likely inflated because of a backlog.

Cross Lake First Nation has moved to the critical red level on the province’s pandemic response system after multiple people tested positive in the community.  The cases are linked to a funeral attended by someone who didn’t have symptoms but later tested positive for COVID-19, which the province announced on Tuesday.

An outbreak at the St. Norbert Personal Care Home has been declared over, health officials said.

Record-setting day

The latest numbers come one day after Manitoba set new records for daily COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

The province recorded its highest number of new cases in a single day on Tuesday, reporting 184 people tested positive for the virus. 

The number of people in hospital has tripled in 10 days, growing from 29 on Oct. 19 to 89 on Wednesday.

There were 83 people in hospitals, including 15 in intensive care units, as of Tuesday. Three more deaths were reported, bringing the total to 58 since the pandemic emerged in Manitoba. (Bryce Hoye/CBC)

Health Minister Cameron Friesen tried to quell fears that hospitals were on the brink of being overwhelmed at a news conference on Tuesday.

Case numbers are trending in the wrong direction, but the health system still has capacity, he said.

“We are planning accordingly. We are not at a breaking point,” Friesen said.

Three people linked to an outbreak at St. Boniface Hospital have died as of Tuesday, and a patient linked to an outbreak at Victoria General Hospital died after being transferred to St. Boniface.

As of Tuesday, the St. Boniface outbreak had led to infections in 23 patients and 10 staff, while the Victoria outbreak infected 19 patients and 19 staff. 

The province announced a 19th death in an outbreak at the Parkview Place personal care home, where 104 residents have tested positive in the facility that housed 221 people as of last Friday.

Revera, the for-profit company that runs Parkview Place, also operates the Maples Long Term Care Home, where 69 of the facility’s 200 residents had tested positive by Tuesday, up from 35 on Monday.

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Toronto Public Health to open fourth vaccine clinic this weekend | News – Daily Hive

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Toronto Public Health is launching a new community flu vaccine clinic at the Scarborough Town Centre this weekend.

The clinic, which will be TPH’s fourth, will be open as of October 31. As with all other clinics, it will be appointment-only due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Appointments must be booked through an online booking system, which launched on October 28. All four clinics will be open until the end of December.

The online booking will ensure that appropriate physical distancing and infection prevention and control measures can be followed at the clinic to reduce the potential risk of virus spread and keep residents safer, TPH said.

Flu shots are also available at doctors’ offices and pharmacies.

“Flu activity usually peaks between the end of December and beginning of January, so it is recommended that residents get vaccinated before then,” TPH said. “Getting vaccinated against the flu may also reduce the number of individuals who need COVID-19 testing, as the symptoms are very similar.”

TPH says it has administered approximately 1,000 flu vaccines since it launched its annual community clinics on October 22. In addition to its seasonal clinics, they also administer the vaccine at approximately 60 pop-up clinics in shelters, drop-in centres, and interim lodging sites for vulnerable Torontonians.

“Getting your annual flu vaccine is the best way to prevent getting sick from the flu,” said Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health. “This year it’s more important than ever to get your flu vaccine early to help protect yourself, others from severe illness, and reduce the burden on our healthcare system during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The flu vaccine protects vulnerable residents, including older adults, those with chronic and pre-existing health conditions, and pregnant women, from developing a more severe illness.

“The flu can spread to others before symptoms even appear,” said TPH.

The flu is spread from person to person by small droplets produced by a cough or sneeze, or through contact with contaminated hands, surfaces, or objects, similar to COVID-19, they say.

According to TPH, typical flu symptoms include a high fever, chills, sore throat, cough, and muscle aches. Other common symptoms include headache, loss of appetite, and feeling tired. Recovering from the flu usually takes a week to 10 days, they say, but for some people it can worsen pre-existing health conditions, including asthma or heart disease, or develop into more serious health problems, such as pneumonia. In rare circumstances it can be fatal.

The flu vaccine is free for people six months of age and older who live, work, or attend school in Ontario. A health card is not required at a TPH clinic.

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