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Infectious disease specialist warns new COVID-19 measures on Ottawa bars, restaurants 'not going far enough' – Newstalk 1010 (iHeartRadio)

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On the day new capacity limits were imposed on Ottawa’s bars, restaurants and gyms, an infectious disease specialist says the targeted measures do not go far enough to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“The virus is winning and we need to take this very seriously,” said Dr. Abdu Sharkawy of Toronto’s University Health Network.

On Friday, the Ontario Government announced new “targeted measures” for bars, restaurants and other establishments in Ottawa, Toronto and Peel due to the higher than average rates of COVID-19 transmission.  The new measures include limiting bars and restaurants to a maximum of six people per table, and 100 people maximum.

Speaking on CTV News at Six, anchor Christina Succi asked Dr. Sharkawy whether the capacity measures will help limit the spread of COVID-19 or if Premier Doug Ford is targeting the wrong places.

“I don’t think the premier is targeting the wrong places, but I would argue that these restrictions are not going far enough,” said Dr. Sharkawy Saturday evening.

“Two words that continue to be reiterated through this pandemic are historic and unprecedented and unfortunately, we’ve reached a historic and unprecedented crisis when it comes to public health and its capacity.”

Ottawa Public Health reported 25 people were in hospital on Saturday for COVID-19 related illnesses. On Sept. 25, there were 13 people in hospital and on Sept. 14 there were 11 people in hospital.  As of Sept. 30, Ottawa Public Health reported 99 per cent of acute beds were occupied in Ottawa, and 43 per cent of ICU beds were occupied. 

On Saturday, Toronto Public Health announced it would scale back contact tracing due to soaring cases. On Friday, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches said the volume of people seeking COVID-19 testing in Ottawa is putting a strain on every part of Ottawa’s detection and contact tracing process.

Dr. Sharkawy tells CTV News Ottawa it is “alarming” Toronto Public Health is scaling back contact tracing of COVID-19 cases, and Ontario needs to take steps to limit COVID-19 spread.  

“Unfortunately, when we are making restrictions in terms of reducing capacity in areas where we know there is a clear epidemiologic link to transmission of this virus like bars and indoor dining, it’s simply not enough,” said Dr. Sharkawy.

“At this point in time we are way behind, and we have to make measures that are absolutely decisive to get ahead of this before we see our emergency rooms and ICUs completely inundated and overwhelmed, and that’s a distinct possibility in the next few weeks.”

When asked about the new capacity limits in restaurants, bars and other establishments, Infectious disease physician Dr. Isaac Bogoch tells CTV News Ottawa, “I think the question is will that be enough.”

Dr. Bogoch adds, “The senior public health leadership of Ottawa and of Toronto, the two worst hit places, are suggesting it’s not going to be enough and more measures are going to be necessary to curb the epidemic in those two areas.”

Last week, Ontario changed the limits on social gatherings to a maximum of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.

CTV News at Six anchor Christina Succi asked Dr. Sharkawy when health officials will be able to determine if the new restrictions are helping to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“Unfortunately, the way that these epidemics and these curves work is that we’re not going to see a real impact of a change in behaviour or any measures, good or bad, for at least another couple of weeks. If we impose the right measures now, we won’t really see the true impact of that for at least another 10 to 14 days,” said Dr. Sharkawy.

“So it really reminds us that we can’t get further behind in terms of the timeline here. We’re losing ground, the virus is winning and we need to take this very seriously.”

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Canadian Press NewsAlert: Quebec reaches more than 100000 total cases of COVID-19 – Vancouver Is Awesome

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MONTREAL — Quebec reached more than 100,000 total cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, becoming the first province in Canada to hit the somber milestone since the pandemic began in March.

But despite remaining the country’s coronavirus epicentre, public health experts say a recent downward trend of infections is an encouraging sign.

“It’s a moment where we all sit up and say wow, 100,000 – that’s a lot of zeroes,” said Erin Strumpf, an associate professor at McGill University specialized in health economics.

“But again I think the more important thing to be paying attention to is the trend that we’ve been seeing recently in the province.”

The province reported 879 new cases on Sunday, bringing the total to 100,114 infections since the start of the pandemic.

The curve of new infections appears to have flattened over the past few weeks though, Strumpf said in an interview.

That downward trend, she said, coincides with stricter public health guidelines that aimed to stem the spread of the virus.

The government ordered the closure of bars and gyms, among other places, in hard-hit areas and advised residents to limit their contact with people who do not live in their households.

Montreal and Quebec City are among several Quebec regions that remain under the highest COVID-19 alert.

Strumpf said it is hard to pinpoint what exact measures are responsible for flattening the curve, however.

She added that she expects to see many public health restrictions remain in place moving forward. “It’s very difficult to know right now or to predict how long those closures may stay in place,” she said.

Still, the high COVID-19 infection numbers bring up painful memories for Quebecers who lost loved ones during the pandemic.

July Mak, whose 68-year-old father Paul contracted COVID-19 in a long-term care home in Montreal and died at the end of March, said the pain of her father’s death has not eased with time.

“To see these numbers this high… it blows my mind,” Mak said in an interview Sunday.

She said she wants the Quebec government to recognize that its COVID-19 data is more than just numbers — and thousands of people across the province have been directly affected.

“They mattered,” Mak said, about the thousands who have died.

On Sunday, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube said on Twitter that the number of new infections is “stable but remains high.”

Those cases can turn into hospitalizations and deaths, Dube warned, urging Quebecers to remain vigilant to reduce transmission.

Quebec health officials also reported 11 additional deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, bringing the total to 6,143.

Five of those additional deaths took place in the past 24 hours, five were reported between Oct. 18-23 and one occurred at an unspecified date.

Hospitalizations went up by two across the province, for a total of 551. Of those, 97 people were in intensive care — an increase of four compared to the previous day.

The province said it conducted 25,378 COVID-19 tests on Friday, the last date for which the testing data is available.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 25, 2020.

Jillian Kestler-D’Amours, The Canadian Press

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Parkview Place to test all residents as more than 40% now infected with COVID-19 – CBC.ca

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The for-profit company that owns Parkview Place is ramping up efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 by bringing in new staff and paying to have every resident tested. 

This comes after Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) staff entered the residence last weekend for the first time since March and found numerous deficiencies including lack of cleaning, lack of staff knowledge of outbreak protocols and the need for more medical and clinical staff.

Ninety-seven of the home’s 221 residents — 44 per cent — have tested positive for the novel coronavirus since the outbreak began on Sept. 15, based on Parkview’s most recent occupancy figures. 

As of Sunday afternoon, there are 17 reported deaths at Parkview.

Revera says it engaged Dynacare on Friday to test all residents at Parkview Place as part of a pilot project in order to accelerate the testing process and inform efforts to cohort and isolate residents.

Dynacare is the same private lab that’s analyzing some of the swabs for the provincial COVID-19 testing program. 

“We appreciate the support of the WRHA in approving this Revera-funded solution to accelerate testing of our residents,” said Dr. Rhonda Collins, Revera’s chief medical officer who is registered to practice in Ontario. 

Collins said more than 200 residents have been tested to date.

Twenty-six staff members have also tested positive, which is straining Parkview’s ability to deliver resident care.

Call for all staff to be tested

Revera says it is advocating for all-staff surveillance testing in all jurisdictions where it operates over the world.

“In areas of high community spread, this can be a valuable tool in helping us identify asymptomatic carriers early,” said Collins in a written statement.

Collins noted surveillance testing for all long-term care employees initiated by the Government of Ontario this summer identified numerous asymptomatic staff who, had they not been tested, would have unwittingly spread the virus. 

Asymptomatic health care providers are not routinely tested for COVID-19 in Manitoba but they may be offered testing if they have been exposed to a case according to a Health Department spokesperson. 

“Public health has continually revisited its advice on testing as the science develops, especially for vulnerable populations,”  said the spokesperson. “[F]uture decisions on offering asymptomatic testing for staff who have not been exposed to a case will be made based on scientific data.”

Revera said that when the WRHA visited last weekend, the evening staffing fell “short of the target” because an unspecified number of staff were self-isolating due to the virus. 

“Essential care did not suffer during those temporary shortages. All eyes and efforts remain focused on resident care and infection control,” said Collins.

She says staffing levels have stabilized at Parkview this week because some permanent staff who previously tested positive have been cleared to return to work. 

In addition to an onsite pharmacist provided by the WRHA last week, Parkview Place has:

  • added front line and management staff from other Revera locations, with WRHA approval.
  • hired new employees.
  • committed to bringing in agency staff for a number of different roles to support the home’s clinical, recreation and environmental services staff.

Parkview will be able to access staff recruited through last week’s provincial call for staff, which resulted in hiring 11 registered nurses, two health care aides,one respiratory therapist and one physiotherapist, according to a Manitoba Health Department spokesperson.

Manitoba Health did not specify how many, if any, of the new workers went to Parkview Place. Revera did not quantify the total number of staff it added. 

Dedicated on-site physician touted by health minister does not exist

Manitoba Health Minister Cameron Friesen has said there was a dedicated on-site physician at Parkview since mid-October. Revera says it does not have a full-time physician. (David Lipnowski/The Canadian Press)

Revera says the WRHA is sending a dedicated full-time Nurse Practitioner to start working in-person at Parkview Place starting Monday.

This announcement comes a week after Manitoba’s Health Minister Cameron Friesen repeatedly said Parkview now has an on-site physician in multiple interviews with media.

“Everyone is working very, very hard at Parkview Place. We know that we now have a dedicated physician on-site,” said Friesen in a press conference on Oct.16. He repeated the same claim twice the day before when questioned about what the province was doing to curb its deadliest outbreak to date. 

“If by ‘dedicated’ you mean full-time, then the answer is no,” wrote a spokesperson for Revera when asked if Parkview had a dedicated on-site physician 

Revera did say its local medical director, Dr. Bharat Shah, “is completing on-site rounds,” but did not specify when he restarted in-person visits after pausing them due to the pandemic. She said the role of medical director is not a full-time job.

Minister Friesen, who has not held a press conference in more than a week, did not respond to multiple requests for comment about his statements.

Parkview Place located in hot zone

Collins says downtown Winnipeg has more active cases than anywhere else in Manitoba. 

“The level of community spread is a direct predictor of the potential for, and severity of, an outbreak of COVID-19 in long-term care,” said Collins. 

She said staff are grieving the deaths of residents and the pandemic has been incredibly difficult for the people who work in long-term care.

“Everyone at Parkview Place is focused on providing care to residents and stopping the spread of this devastating virus,” Collins said. 

If you have a tip about personal care homes, click here to contact Jill Coubrough.

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Canadian Press NewsAlert: Quebec reaches more than 100,000 total cases of COVID-19 – St. Albert Today

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MONTREAL — Quebec reached more than 100,000 total cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, becoming the first province in Canada to hit the somber milestone since the pandemic began in March.

But despite remaining the country’s coronavirus epicentre, public health experts say a recent downward trend of infections is an encouraging sign.

“It’s a moment where we all sit up and say wow, 100,000 – that’s a lot of zeroes,” said Erin Strumpf, an associate professor at McGill University specialized in health economics.

“But again I think the more important thing to be paying attention to is the trend that we’ve been seeing recently in the province.”

The province reported 879 new cases on Sunday, bringing the total to 100,114 infections since the start of the pandemic.

The curve of new infections appears to have flattened over the past few weeks though, Strumpf said in an interview.

That downward trend, she said, coincides with stricter public health guidelines that aimed to stem the spread of the virus.

The government ordered the closure of bars and gyms, among other places, in hard-hit areas and advised residents to limit their contact with people who do not live in their households.

Montreal and Quebec City are among several Quebec regions that remain under the highest COVID-19 alert.

Strumpf said it is hard to pinpoint what exact measures are responsible for flattening the curve, however.

She added that she expects to see many public health restrictions remain in place moving forward. “It’s very difficult to know right now or to predict how long those closures may stay in place,” she said.

Still, the high COVID-19 infection numbers bring up painful memories for Quebecers who lost loved ones during the pandemic.

July Mak, whose 68-year-old father Paul contracted COVID-19 in a long-term care home in Montreal and died at the end of March, said the pain of her father’s death has not eased with time.

“To see these numbers this high… it blows my mind,” Mak said in an interview Sunday.

She said she wants the Quebec government to recognize that its COVID-19 data is more than just numbers — and thousands of people across the province have been directly affected.

“They mattered,” Mak said, about the thousands who have died.

On Sunday, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube said on Twitter that the number of new infections is “stable but remains high.”

Those cases can turn into hospitalizations and deaths, Dube warned, urging Quebecers to remain vigilant to reduce transmission.

Quebec health officials also reported 11 additional deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, bringing the total to 6,143.

Five of those additional deaths took place in the past 24 hours, five were reported between Oct. 18-23 and one occurred at an unspecified date.

Hospitalizations went up by two across the province, for a total of 551. Of those, 97 people were in intensive care — an increase of four compared to the previous day.

The province said it conducted 25,378 COVID-19 tests on Friday, the last date for which the testing data is available.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 25, 2020.

Jillian Kestler-D’Amours, The Canadian Press

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