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'January will be tough' but no new restrictions yet on second day of more than 1000 NS COVID cases – SaltWire Network



It was the second day with more than 1,000 COVID-19 cases reported on Monday, but there are no new restrictions on the way because hospitalizations remain low.

On Monday, 1,020 cases were reported with 36 people in the hospital and four in the ICU. On Sunday, there were 1,184 cases and over the last two weeks, Nova Scotia has reported over 9,000 cases confirmed by PCR tests.

During a briefing Monday, Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, said January will be tough and that he and Premier Tim Houston will have “some more hard decisions to make.” Strang said they held the briefing on Monday to alleviate some anxiety going around about the high numbers.

“Omicron is pushing us to the limit and creating a difficult balancing act between controlling the virus and limiting significant impacts of restrictions.”

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While the case numbers are eyebrow-raising, the hospitalizations are low, and that’s the number Houston and Strang said they’re watching closely. They wouldn’t say, however, how many hospitalizations would trigger any more restrictions.

Of the 36 people now in the hospital, Houston said five were hospitalized before omicron, and they range in age from 19-98 with the average age being 72. Of those in hospital, most (77.8 per cent) are vaccinated to some degree.

To put those numbers in perspective, Houston said on May 30, 2021, there were 585 active cases, 53 in the hospital and 18 in the ICU.

“The case numbers are high, are certainly very high compared to what we’re used to, but the variant is different,” Houston said.

Strang said gatherings over the holidays combined with the highly infectious omicron variant are likely what led to case numbers over 1,000. But the low hospitalization and ICU numbers are a positive sign.

But it’s not time to open the doors completely, he added. The risk of serious illness is low for many people, but the risk is very high for others. And while the healthcare system can handle the number of people who need care, Strang said there are other issues to worry about like the hundreds of healthcare workers who need to isolate.

“We are in the most difficult stage of the pandemic yet,” Strang said. “There may be questions and skepticism about how we’re responding to the omicron wave, I understand that, this is very challenging and difficult.”

A vaccine dose is administered in this file photo. – Saltwire network

More to come Wednesday

Strang said there will be another briefing on Wednesday where he will discuss the current requirements for people to isolate for 10 days. He said a recent study suggests that can be safely reduced.

Houston said while there are no new restrictions announced now, they will have more data and research by Wednesday. He said they are watching and won’t hesitate to do what’s necessary.

Of those cases reported on Monday, 664 cases were in the central zone, 120 in the eastern zone and 104 in the northern zone and 132 cases were reported in the western zone. There were 6,303 tests completed.

Big booster uptake for 30-plus

Booster appointments for people 30 and older were opened Monday morning and right away, the online booking site was flooded.  

Houston said 92,000 appointments were opened up Monday and by the briefing at 2 p.m., he said they were either all gone, or close to it.

He urged patience for those who didn’t get in and said more appointments are coming soon.

Since Strang and Houston asked for people to help at vaccination clinics, 1,646 have signed up. Strang said they’re hoping to get as many people to help as possible.

A nurse cuts stickers from a sheet, to give to children that come for testing at a COVID-19 full PCR testing site on Kempt Road in Halifax in this file photo from Nov. 17, 2021. - Tim Krochak
A nurse cuts stickers from a sheet, to give to children that come for testing at a COVID-19 full PCR testing site on Kempt Road in Halifax in this file photo from Nov. 17, 2021. – Tim Krochak

Back to school

With news Monday that Ontario is switching to remote learning for two weeks, many parents in Nova Scotia are concerned about their children returning to school on Jan. 10. Strang said that was one of the toughest decisions he’s had to make throughout the pandemic, but he believes there is a significant risk for kids not being in school.

But every family is different and if students can’t be in school, there are ways for them to get the support they need, Strang said.

He added they’ll be talking more about this issue at the Wednesday briefing and he will also have more about the “multiple layers of protection” like keeping kids in classroom cohorts, limiting visitors, and minimizing activity in schools.

“But it starts with if children or teachers. If they are sick, they need to stay home and not be in school.”

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BC Centre for Disease Control apologizes for isolation guidance flip flops –



The BC Centre of Disease Control is apologizing after making multiple changes to COVID-19 isolation guidelines over the past few days.

On Tuesday, the BC CDC posted guidance reducing the isolation requirement for all COVID-19 test positive cases to five days no matter the vaccination status.

Then, less than 24 hours later, it updated the guidance to require unvaccinated adults to isolate for ten days following a COVID-positive test.

Read more:

COVID-19: B.C. reports 13 new deaths as hospitalizations near 900

But at the same time the guidelines changed for any one 17 years old and younger. That demographic only needs to isolate for five days, no matter vaccine status, following a positive test.

Click to play video: 'BC CDC adjusts isolation requirements for close contacts'

BC CDC adjusts isolation requirements for close contacts

BC CDC adjusts isolation requirements for close contacts

In all of these cases, the isolation time will be longer if there are still COVID symptoms.

The BC CDC also waived all isolation requirements for close contacts.

None of this information was included in a press release or public briefing.

“We apologize for the web posting and changes that occurred yesterday,” a statement from the BC CDC said.

“We understand the significant interest in these testing and isolation guidelines, which is why we updated the website immediately with clarifications made yesterday. We recognize this approach led to confusion.”

Click to play video: 'BC CDC adjusts isolation requirements for close contacts'

BC CDC adjusts isolation requirements for close contacts

BC CDC adjusts isolation requirements for close contacts

The BC CDC said it acknowledges the frustration people are feeling about the pandemic and the need people have for clear communication on changes impacting their lives.

“We will strive to ensure there is a better change management process for future changes,” the statement reads.

“These changes are a step toward enabling British Columbians to self-manage their illness and will help guide their actions to limit the spread of illness in our communities.”

Read more:

BC CDC flip flops on isolation requirements for unvaccinated COVID-19-positive people

On the issue of the new guidelines, the CDC said public health guidance always strives to strike a balance between preventing infection and limiting the harms caused by preventing people from participation in societal activities like working, going to school and socializing.

Public health officials have stated frequently the highly-transmissible Omicron variant has changed the COVID situation in the province.

Click to play video: 'BC CDC adjusts isolation requirements for close contacts'

BC CDC adjusts isolation requirements for close contacts

BC CDC adjusts isolation requirements for close contacts

The province has struggled with providing access to COVID testing and the contact tracing has entirely broken down amid the arrival of the Omicron variant.

“The guidance and how we manage the situation is changing rapidly and we always intend to provide the public with the most up-to-date information as quickly as possible,” the CDC said in the statement.

Read more:

BC CDC flip flops on isolation requirements for unvaccinated COVID-19-positive people

“We expect further changes to the guidance in the weeks to come and commit to keeping British Columbians informed.”

Here is a summary of the key changes from the CDC:

  • If you have mild symptoms and do not need a COVID-19 test, stay home until you feel well enough to return to your regular activities.
  • If you test positive for COVID-19 and you are under 18 or a fully vaccinated adult you must self-isolate at home for five days AND until your symptoms improve and you no longer have a fever. In this case avoid non-essential visits to high-risk settings for an additional five days.
  • If you test positive for COVID-19 and you are 18 years of age or older and not fully vaccinated you must self-isolate at home for 10 days AND until your symptoms improve and you no longer have a fever.
  • Close contacts do not need to self-isolate, regardless of vaccination status, but should self-monitor.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Take 2 steps and call me in the morning: Exercise as a prescription for depression –



Judy Mulloy’s voice breaks and her eyes well up with tears as she describes how a simple walk in the park and chair yoga has helped her through the pandemic.

“Oh, it’s a happy cry, I assure you,” she said. “My life has changed around. It’s no longer a thing of sadness.”

Mulloy, 56, first turned to physical activity years ago to manage her depression. She says staying active in her hometown of Nelson, B.C., hasn’t eliminated her need for a daily antidepressant. 

“But the thing that can boost my mood is to go for a walk. Go for a swim. Do some exercise,” she said.

That tonic began to dry up when the first COVID-19 lockdown hit in 2020 and gyms and recreation centres were shuttered. Mulloy responded to a social media post looking for volunteers for a study that replaced facilities and classes with a commercially available app. 

“I’ve not looked back. It’s been amazing,” she said.

Judy Mulloy of Nelson, B.C., was one of over 300 participants in the UBC study, which found exercise has a measurable effect on mood. (Judy Mulloy)

Anxiety, depression increased in pandemic

The study was conceived by Eli Puterman, an assistant professor at the School of Kinesiology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

Puterman says he was moved by surveys such as the poll done for Mental Health Research Canada in early 2020, which suggested anxiety levels had quadrupled and depression levels doubled during the pandemic.

“People were suffering. So, we wanted to see whether we can support people,” Puterman said. 

His research team recruited over 300 people, gave them a free subscription to an exercise app and divided them into four randomized groups that either did yoga, high-intensity interval training, a combination of the two, or were relegated to a wait list.

Each week, participants completed a standard questionnaire that’s used in the diagnosis and treatment of depression. Using a scale of zero to three, people reported how often they experienced symptoms such as sleeplessness or feeling lonely. 

The results were reported in the British Journal of Sports Medicine last fall. 

“Everyone dropped in their depression levels,” Puterman said.

WATCH | Judy Mulloy talks about the exercise benefits she experienced: 

‘Yes, I can do this’

20 hours ago

Duration 1:40

Judy Mulloy gets emotional explaining how exercise has helped her regain hope and change aspects of her life that were contributing to her depression. 1:40

While none of the participants were screened to determine whether they had been diagnosed as clinically depressed, of those who were active in the study, the ones who reported the most severe symptoms at the start showed the biggest improvement, Puterman said.

“I am surprised by how drastic of an effect it was,” he said.

Past studies show similar results

Puterman’s results are only the latest to link physical activity and mood. “There’s been enough studies,” said Vancouver psychiatrist Dr. Ron Remick.

Remick thinks physical activity can be as effective as some more common treatments for depression, such as psychotherapy or antidepressants. But while it’s true that research going back decades demonstrates the ability of exercise to measurably reduce symptoms of depression and stave off relapse, on its own, it may not be enough to treat severe depression, a complex disease that can have multiple causes. 

Dr. Ron Remick, medical director for the Mood Disorders Association of British Columbia, out for a daily walk in Vancouver. (Curt Petrovich/CBC)

Remick’s advocacy for movement as medicine comes from his own experience. Seven years ago, as medical director of the Mood Disorders Association of British Columbia he pioneered a weekly program of low-impact movement for his patients called Jump Step. 

It involved outdoor walks, floor exercises and cardio routines combined with a group medical visit. 

When the pandemic struck, the program went virtual. Participants were given the only equipment they’d need: a yoga mat and an exercise band. Jump Step now runs for eight weeks, four times a year. Its results have drawn attention from the B.C. government, which was interested in potentially implementing it provincewide.

“Much like our earlier research, it has continued to show that a significant number of people who do a program like this have significant improvement in their depressive symptoms,” Remick said.

‘A break from all of that chatter’

Michael Sarvari leads the weekly classes. Sarvari draws on his own experience as someone who wrestled with severe depression for most of his life until one day, he says, he crawled out of bed and convinced himself to do a pushup. The next day he tried two, and so on. 

Michael Sarvari leads an online exercise group of people dealing with depression during the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the Jump Step, a weekly program of low-impact movement created by Remick. (Curt Petrovich)

“When you’re depressed, your mind is so busy with negative thoughts and chatter,” Sarvari said. 

“When you kind of take yourself out of your mind and into your body doing physical things, you get a break from all of that chatter. It kind of creates that calm within yourself.”

Sarvari says it’s hard to overstate the benefits of basic, regular physical activity

“I could be homeless because I wasn’t able to support myself. I wasn’t able to work,” he said. “I would be in a very dark place and possibly not alive because I was suicidal for many years.” 

WATCH | Dr. Ron Remick outlines why a little movement goes a long way: 

30 minutes a day of moderate exercise can help

20 hours ago

Duration 0:50

Ron Remick, medical director for the Mood Disorders Association of British Columbia, explains how a small amount of moderate exercise can help tackle depression and reduce your risk of some diseases. 0:50

Researchers are hoping to ease that kind of personal suffering while acknowledging there’s a payoff for the wider public if they’re successful. A decade ago, the World Economic Forum and the Harvard School of Public Health forecast the global cost of mental health conditions by 2030 to be over $7 trillion a year. 

“Changes occur slowly in medicine even when the evidence is there for a long long time,” said Remick.

Unlike a pill, prescribing exercise has to be tailored to a patient’s abilities by doctors who know how to motivate people. 

Puterman says while there is ample evidence to support his broader findings, some research gaps remain. Most of the participants in his study were white and maintained their jobs during the pandemic. He plans to focus a future study on more diverse and vulnerable communities. 

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After-school COVID-19 vaccination clinics resume in Ottawa, one community clinic closes this weekend – CTV Edmonton



Ottawa Public Health is resuming after-school COVID-19 vaccination clinics, while a busy community clinic at the EY Centre will close for good this weekend.

The health unit says as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, its “shifting capacity” in the COVID-19 vaccine clinics.

“This shift is intended to support vaccination of individuals and families by bringing clinics closer to where people live, work and play,” said the health unit.

As of Wednesday, 91 per cent of Ottawa residents aged 5 and older had received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while 84 per cent had received two doses.

After-school vaccination clinics

Starting Friday, Ottawa Public Health is resuming after-school COVID-19 vaccination clinics, with 49 clinics planned over the next several weeks.

“Initially in neighbourhoods experiencing more barriers to vaccination or that have lower vaccination rates,” said the health unit.

The clinics are drop-in only and will prioritize children aged five to 11 and their families. Those living in the surrounding communities who still need a first, second or booster dose are also welcome to visit the schools.

Here is the initial clinic schedule for after-school vaccination clinics

Jan. 21 – Prince of Peace Catholic School at 1620 Heatherington Rd. 2:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 21 – St. Rose of Lima School at 50 Bayshore Drive. 2:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 22 – Sawmill Creek Elementary School at 3400 D’Aoust Ave. 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Jan. 22 – Our Lady of Mount Carmel School at 675 Gardenvale Rd. 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Jan 23 – York St. Public School – 310 York St. 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Jan. 24 – St. Marguerite d’Youville School at 89 Lorry Greenberg Drive. 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 25 – École élémentaire catholique Laurier Carriere at 14 Four Seasons Dr. 3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 25 – Hawthorne Public School at 2158 St. Laurent Blvd. 3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 26 – Assumption School at 236 Levis Ave. 4:15 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 26 – St. Thomas More School at 1620 Blohm Dr. 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

EY Centre

The COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the EY Centre will cease operations on Jan. 22.

Ottawa Public Health says all scheduled appointments up to and including Jan. 22 will be accepted.

“Anyone with appointments on January 23 will be contacted and offered an appointment at a nearby vaccination clinic. No appointments will be cancelled,” said the health unit.

The health unit says there is “ample appointment and drop-in capacity for first, second and booster doses at the other community clinics:

  • François Dupuis Recreation Centre (2263 Portobello Blvd.)
  • Nepean Sportsplex Curling Rink (1701 Woodroffe Ave.)
  • University of Ottawa – Minto Sports Complex (801 King Edward Ave.)
  • JH Putman School (2051 Bel-Air Dr.)
  • Eva James Memorial Centre (65 Stonehaven Dr.)
  • Orleans Ruddy Family YMCA-YWCA (265 Centrum Blvd.)

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