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Government conscious of privacy concerns about tracing apps; monitoring symptoms in children – My Campbell River Now

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This morning, Canada officially surpassed 50,000 cases of COVID-19, with nearly 20,000 Canadians already recovered.  The country’s Chief Public Health Officer says local, provincial, and territorial plans are key factors in safely reopening economies.

Dr. Theresa Tam says slowing the growth of the epidemic curve will be based on overcoming the different regional outbreaks. With more tracing being a major factor in bending the curve, Tam says Health Canada is carefully looking at using digital surveillance applications. She says concerns over privacy will be paramount in any decisions about these apps.

Tam also said that even though we are talking about reopening in the coming weeks, mass gatherings specifically sporting events, will not be happening anytime soon.

Meanwhile, clinicians in the United Kingdom have recently noticed a new symptom of COVID-19 in children. Dr. Tam says the latest in pediatric literature is being shared globally including any observations from the UK.

She says in addition to the known response to the virus some people have reported immunological reactions or inflammatory responses.

Tam says pediatrics is a very important focus in the government’s response to COVID-19.  She says children under the age of 10 tend to have very mild symptoms and it appears they may not be key transmitters.

According to Tam, Health Canada is aware of the frostbite like rashes on kids’ toes but is quick to point out that very little is known about this situation.

She says these symptoms were presented just as a general alert to the UK’s clinicians and they do not know whether it is linked to the virus.

She notes that viral infections, in general, do result in some of these observations.

Tam says Health Canada and pediatricians as well as physicians are in constant contact and are always informed of the latest on COVID-19 symptoms.

**Written by Mo Fahim

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NB health authority CEO says COVID-19 outbreak is 'worst possible scenario' – OHS Canada

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By Holly McKenzie-Sutter in St. John’s, N.L. with files from Jillian Kestler-D’Amours in Montreal

FREDERICTON — The chief executive of a New Brunswick health network says the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in the north of the province is a worst-case scenario in a region with underlying health issues and an older population.

Testing for the novel coronavirus has been ramped up in the Campbellton area, with two arenas becoming makeshift testing centres after officials confirmed a health-care professional travelled to Quebec and returned to work without self-isolating.

The worker has tested positive for COVID-19, and he has been linked to a growing cluster of cases.

Eight cases have been linked to the cluster that as of Friday has led to the adjournment of the provincial legislature, the rollback of reopening measures and prompted the opening of a testing centre across the border in Quebec.

Gilles Lanteigne, president and CEO of the Vitalite Health Network, said the incident that sparked the “massive” testing operation speaks to the importance of abiding by public health measures that have been introduced to slow the spread of the virus.

“We were expecting we would have a fallback at some time or another. Did we expect that? This is probably the worst scenario we could have had,” Lanteigne said by phone on Friday.

Caution urged

Until the latest outbreak, New Brunswick had been loosening restrictions, with nearly all of its positive COVID-19 cases considered resolved.

Health authorities announced two additional cases Friday, bringing the total in the region known as Zone 5 to eight, with two patients in intensive care.

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell said one of the newly diagnosed individuals is a health-care worker in their 30s who works in a nursing home, where patients and staff were being tested Friday. The other new case is a person in their 60s.

She warned all New Brunswickers to be cautious, saying contract tracing has found that people living outside the northern region are within the transmission circle. She said the quickly emerging cluster, which is expected to grow, shows that people will be living with the pandemic for a long time.

Lanteigne said wide testing is essential in the region because Campbellton is known to have high rates of chronic health conditions and smoking, putting the population at greater risk of complications from COVID-19.

“It’s a very vulnerable population,” he said. “We need to know where this virus is at in the community. We’re very, very concerned.”

Lanteigne confirmed the health-care professional thought to be patient zero in the outbreak has been suspended from work indefinitely after coming into contact with more than 100 people.

He declined to confirm the man’s professional title, citing privacy concerns in the small community, but said he worked directly with patients at the Campbellton Regional Hospital.

More than 200 people were tested Thursday evening, and Lanteigne said the health authority is on track to exceed its target of 500 tests over the weekend.

Elective surgeries have been suspended, and ambulances are being diverted to another hospital. Zone 5 has been moved back to the “orange” phase of the province’s reopening plan, with previous restrictions reinstated.

“We’re treating this zone as a hot zone,” Lanteigne said.

Health worker criticized

Campbellton is on the Quebec border, and some residents have complained about restrictions that have limited travel between the two provinces.

Across the river from Campbellton, the health authority in Quebec’s Gaspe region is also setting up a COVID-19 testing unit in Pointe-a-la-Croix.

CISSS Gaspesie spokesperson Clemence Beaulieu-Gendron said the health authority believes some residents of Pointe-a-la-Croix were in contact with the New Brunswick health professional who tested positive for COVID-19, but it is unclear how many.

She said there are currently no active COVID-19 cases in Pointe-a-la-Croix.

Lanteigne remarked that the incident should be a wake-up call for community members who, despite “warnings and warnings,” were reluctant to wear masks and were demanding that travel restrictions be loosened.

“Now, here we are. One incident. This is what we’ve been saying all along,” Lanteigne said.

Premier Blaine Higgs has criticized the worker at the centre of the cluster as “irresponsible.” He said this week that information had been passed to the RCMP and suggested the individual could be charged with violating public health orders.

Cpl. Jullie Rogers-Marsh, spokeswoman for the New Brunswick RCMP, confirmed Friday that the force “is aware of incident and is looking into the matter.” She would not give details about what potential violations were being considered.

At Friday’s COVID-19 briefing, Higgs softened his tone slightly, saying any professional or legal consequences will be dealt with by the person’s employer and law enforcement.

“I know people are upset, but we don’t want anyone taking matters into their own hands,” he said, adding that people with symptoms should not be afraid to come forward and seek testing.

Russell also avoided sharing specifics about the health-care worker’s job title and declined to say whether the nursing home employee had been working in other facilities.

Higgs said the travel incident is being investigated to determine what was said at the border and whether the rules were followed.

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At least 21 employees at St. Catharines greenhouse test positive for COVID-19 – Newstalk 610 CKTB (iHeartRadio)

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At least 21 employees at a St. Catharines greenhouse have tested positive for COVID-19.

Officials with Pioneer Flower Farms say they began testing all employees after three offshore workers began to show symptoms of the virus.

When the results came back, an additional 18 employees tested positive.

Officials say they are planning to continue paying all employees who are entering into self isolation for the next two weeks.

Preventative measures are in place and officials are introducing further methods to limit the spread.

Pioneer Flower Farms employs more than 80 workers.

It was also the scene of a devastating fire last year that destroyed a greenhouse and the residences of migrant workers.

At the time, Fire Chief Jeff McCormick called it ‘the most significant fire that I’ve had in my 33 year career.’

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Union calls on province to take control of a Woodbridge long-term care home after COVID-19 outbreak – durhamradionews.com

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A long-term care home in Woodbridge says 18 people were sent to the hospital on Saturday as a COVID-19 outbreak continued at the facility.

The Woodbridge Vista Care Community has had a dozen residents die of the virus while 80 residents and 20 staff are infected.

The executive vice president of Sienna Senior Living, which operates the home, says the patients had reached a point where their illness needed acute care.

The union that represents front-line workers at the facility is calling on the province to step-in.

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