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Mandatory masks not coming to B.C. amid rising COVID-19 cases – News 1130

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VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — With new restrictions in effect in Metro Vancouver, and record numbers of COVID-19 cases in B.C. there is no plan to make masks mandatory, according to the province’s top doctor.

Dr. Bonnie Henry reiterated Thursday that she has no plans to issue a public health order requiring people to cover their faces indoors.

“Mandating masks is not something that is going to change some people’s minds. We know that most people will do the right thing when they understand the rationale behind it and we’re seeing that,” she said.

Other provincial authorities have made the move. In Quebec, masks are required province-wide. In Manitoba, the province issued an order making them mandatory in Winnipeg. Cities like Toronto and Calgary have passed bylaws, however, Vancouver recently voted against a motion to make masks mandatory in civic facilities.

Henry explained that individual businesses have the authority to tell people to mask up.

Walmart and Starbucks, for example, have mask requirements Canada-wide. In the Lower Mainland, they’re obligatory on TransLink.

“I will say that businesses can say ‘In my business, people need to wear a mask to come in here, and staff need to wear a mask to come in here’ and if people don’t want to do that, then you need to accommodate them by allowing them to order online, by giving them other options. I would encourage particularly some of the larger businesses — this needs to be part of your safety protocols — and that’s more enforceable than my telling people it’s an order,” Henry noted.

“I will say it’s the expectation that when you’re in an indoor public place, you wear a mask,” she said.

“This is really important as we’re moving into this season that we continue to pay attention to that, to wear masks in indoor public spaces.”

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1/3 of Canadians report gaining weight during coronavirus: poll – Global News

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A new poll suggests many Canadians are gaining weight because they’re eating more and exercising less during COVID-19 pandemic.

Nearly one-third of respondents in the survey conducted by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies said they have put on weight since March, compared to 15 per cent who said they lost weight over that time.

READ MORE: 25% of Canadians say their mental health is worse than in 1st coronavirus wave, poll says

As well, about one-third of respondents said they’re exercising less, while 16 per cent said they’re working out more since the first wave of the pandemic landed in Canada in the spring.

Jack Jedwab, president of the Association for Canadian Studies, suggested that one reason may be a rush for comfort food to deal with pandemic-related anxieties.

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Respondents in the survey who said they were “very afraid” of COVID-19 were more likely to report gaining weight, eating more and exercising less.

“The more anxiety you have, the more likely it is that you know you’re eating more,” Jedwab said.

“People who are least anxious about COVID (are) the ones that are not eating more than usual and are not gaining weight.”

The online survey of 1,516 Canadians was conducted Oct. 29-31 and cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples.


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UBC study reveals new impact of self-isolation and quarantine on mental health


UBC study reveals new impact of self-isolation and quarantine on mental health

Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, an associate professor of family medicine at the University of Ottawa, said there are plausible reasons to connect weight gain or loss with the pandemic, but he hadn’t seen any studies to convince him that’s the case.

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Some people are “not reliant on restaurants constantly” and “cooking more frequently in their homes,” which Freedhoff said may be leading to weight loss or better dietary choices. Others are eating more, he said, relying on comfort food “because they’re anxious as a consequence of the pandemic, or the tragedies that have gone on in their lives.”

Jedwab said the country needs to also be mindful of mental health issues that can affect the physical health of Canadians.

“With the winter coming, it’ll be even more challenging, in some parts of the country, to maintain a healthy lifestyle in terms of walking, in terms of doing basic things that will help us address our anxieties,” he said, pointing to lack of access for some to gyms subject to local lockdowns.

Read more:
‘We’re at a breaking point’: Addressing mental health during COVID-19

Some of those exercise classes have gone online. Gabriel Shaw, a kinesiologist from Victoria, B.C. said he has offered virtual classes to give his clients a chance to be physically active.

Shaw said the classes don’t provide people with a sense of community like in-person classes, which he said is important for some people to exercise consistently.

“The best bet for people is to find a way they can enjoy it. That might be going out for a social distance walk or hike or run or bike with a friend,” Shaw said. “That might be finding a Zoom thing that you can get on like dancing or even other activities where you have friends.”

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Shaw said people should also try learning a new skill like dancing, yoga, rock climbing, or take up running to keep things fresh and enjoyable, which is key to exercising long and well.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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COVID-19 case investigations continue to lag days behind case identification in Manitoba – CBC.ca

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COVID-19 case investigations in Winnipeg are lagging days behind positive test results, contrary to the premier’s claim Manitoba has no more contact-tracing delays.

On Friday, Premier Brian Pallister said tracing delays are a thing of the past in this province.

“There’s zero backlogs on tracking and tracing right now in our province,” Pallister said during an interview that aired on Rosemary Barton Live on Sunday.

Backlogs, however, remain. CBC News has learned public health nurses in the Winnipeg health region started investigating COVID-19 cases on Monday that were identified as positive on Nov. 19 — a delay of four days — and are still working overtime to catch up on caseloads.

This four-day delay represents a vast improvement from October, when COVID-19 patients reported contact-tracing investigations lagging behind positive test results by as much as a week.

It nonetheless remains well behind the 24-hour timeframe epidemiologists have recommended for starting contact-tracing investigations in order to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“A twenty-four hour delay in getting a hold of somebody in a shelter, that’s a disaster,” said a public health nurse who CBC News is not identifying due to fears of repercussions.

WATCH | Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister insists his province’s restrictions are the most stringent in the country:

Delays are particularly important to avoid in Winnipeg, where people living in homeless shelters are disproportionately affected by the pandemic, the nurse said.

“When you get somebody on the phone that’s living on the street and you’re telling them they have COVID, it’s a lot different than calling somebody who’s living at home and have three people in their house.”

Darlene Jackson, president of the Manitoba Nurses Union, said the four-day lag reported by the public health nurse is in line with what she’s hearing from her members. 

“We’re hearing that there is a lag — anywhere from a couple of days, to five days,” said Jackson, adding some public health nurses are required to work evenings and weekends in order to catch up on caseloads.

“We know that public health nurses are still working excessive amounts of overtime. They’re being mandated frequently. They’re working through weekends. They’re not allowed to go home until they finish contact tracing on cases. It’s been it’s been months like this, with no end in sight,” Jackson said.

“I just find it very frustrating. We’re already eight months into a pandemic and it just feels like we’re just trying to get caught up now.”

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer, made it clear on Monday the lag involves the time between the identification of a positive case in a laboratory and the handover of information about that case to public health.

“Almost all cases are reached within 24 hours of the report being reported to public health,” said Roussin, adding some case investigations do not begin until the next day after that.

Province adding contact tracers

Case investigations are one aspect of contact-tracing in Manitoba. The province employs an average of 170 people per day — public health nurses and contractors with the Canadian Red Cross — to conduct these investigations.

The province also pays for an average of 80 people a day to notify contacts of known COVID-19 cases. Statistics Canada has been enlisted for this task.

The third aspect of contact tracing involves follow-up calls to infected patients. These are conducted by 43 staff and volunteers at the COVID-19 Contact Centre, jointly run out of the Deer Lodge Centre by Shared Health and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba chief public health officer, said most case investigations begin within a day of public health learning about them. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

On Monday, Health Minister Cameron Friesen promised to bolster these 203 positions with 143 more workers.

The public health nurse who spoke to CBC News said that won’t help unless the reinforcements have specialized training.

“We need people who have the knowledge and the education to do proper contact-case investigations. It’s more than just calling people and telling them they have COVID,” the nurse said.

“We’re doing health assessments and directing people where to go if their symptoms exacerbate. We’re dealing with people who are structurally disadvantaged, who don’t have home. I mean, those are things that public health nurses know, not somebody answering the phone at a call centre.”

Contact tracers not allowed to work from home

The Manitoba Nurses Union also chastised the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority for not allowing COVID-19 case investigators to work from home.

Public health nurses are being subjected to unnecessary risks at the office — while some are unable to work because they are sick, isolating or caring for children, the union said.

“I do not understand why public health nurses are not allowed to access their files that they need at home and to work from home,” Jackson said.

Roussin, who has urged all employers to allow employees to work remotely, encouraged the WRHA to consider doing the same.

“If you can make it feasible, if you can get the work done by being at home, then I would encourage all employers to to look at that,” he said.

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Confusion remains in B.C. on who can gather in restaurants under COVID-19 restrictions – Global News

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The B.C. Restaurant and Food Association says a new set of COVID-19 restrictions imposed by the provincial government has customers struggling to understand who they are allowed to dine with.

The association’s president Ian Tostenson says restaurants are trying to tell customers to use common sense and follow advice from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, but he says that advice has been unclear.

“There is a lot of confusion as to who can dine out as a result of the last couple of weeks with Dr. Henry,” Tostenson said Monday.

“The spirit of what Dr. Henry is saying is eat with people you trust, eat with people in your bubble. But if you try to define that too much it gets too hard.”

Read more:
‘Kicked when we’re down’: New COVID-19 restrictions hit already struggling B.C. restaurants

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The provincial orders issued last week require diners to only eat with someone from their own household. If someone is single, they can eat with one or two other people who make up their pandemic bubble.

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For example, three friends who are also married cannot all eat together at a restaurant. Another common mistake is parents cannot take their adult child and spouse for a meal at a restaurant if they live in separate households.

“For these two weeks we’re saying stick with your household bubble, and for some people that may mean one or two people who they have close contact with their pandemic bubble,” Henry said Monday.

The biggest challenge to uphold the order is enforcement.

Restaurants are being told not to ask diners whether they are following the rules. Instead, Henry is asking diners to know the rules themselves.


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Christmas events put ‘on hold’ by pandemic

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“It is not the restaurant’s responsibility to ask people who they live with, or where they are from,” Tostenson said.

“The more that we increase confusion and uncertainty in the marketplace the harder it is.”

There is growing concern from the province that British Columbians are trying to exploit loopholes in the order. The priority for the government is to crack down of social gatherings if that is in someone’s home or in a restaurant.

Read more:
Your questions about B.C.’s new COVID-19 measures answered

One thing enforcement can do is crack down on organized events in a restaurant like live music.

“There is a tendency to … see these like a speed limit and it says 80 (km/h), and maybe I can go 86. That’s not what these are,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said Monday.

“These are provincial health orders to help us stop the spread of a virus that is harming our loved ones in long-term care and causing great disruption in our society, and these are the things we’re doing together to stop that.”

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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