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Manitoba launches flu clinics amid COVID-19 pandemic –



The annual flu vaccination program in Manitoba started Thursday while the province also faces the worst stretch so far in its COVID-19 pandemic battle.

“This year’s been like no other. It has never been more important for Manitobans to get the flu shot,” Premier Brian Pallister said as he formally launched the program and received his shot from Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer.

“Manitobans have a long and proud history of taking care of each other and facing our challenges together. That is what the flu vaccine does — it protects each of us, and it protects our family, friends and fellow Manitobans.

“I encourage all Manitobans, especially those at increased risk, their caregivers and close family and friends to get the flu shot this fall.”

Roussin recommends everyone six months of age and older get the vaccine as early in the fall as possible.

Regional health authorities will soon begin immunization clinics. A full list of the clinic locations and dates is available on the Manitoba government website.

The province reported a record-setting 146 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. It was the second consecutive day with a new record number — and the fourth in a week.

The flu program is being announced as other provinces worry about vaccine supplies running out.

Ontario health-care providers, from family physicians to hospital workers, have documented a surge in demand and expressed concerns that limited supplies will rapidly dry up.

Roussin expects a similar spike in demand in Manitoba, not just from the general public but also because the 2020-21 campaign is targeting those most vulnerable and their caregivers, with specific outreach to the health-care sector and the public service.

As a result, the province boosted its vaccination order by 20 per cent over a typical year. Right now, 150,000 doses are making their way into clinics and doctors’ offices, Roussin said.

A record 26.3 per cent of Manitobans got the shot last year and Roussin is expecting that number to reach 30 per cent this time around. The province has ordered enough dosages to vaccinate 40 per cent of the population.   

The full provincial vaccine allotment is expected to arrive over the next several weeks, barring any external supply or delivery disruptions. 

In addition to the provincial clinics, vaccines can be administered by physicians and pharmacists, although the latter can only immunize those seven years of age or older. A physician must vaccinate children age six months to seven years. 

The annual vaccination campaign’s slogan takes into account the COVID-19 situation with images of a face mask, mittens and the flu shot needle, alongside the tag line “Add a layer this fall.”

High-dose vaccine

The province has also nearly doubled its order of the high-dose flu vaccine and expanded the eligibility criteria so more seniors can get access.

The high-dose vaccine offers more of an immune boost than the regular vaccine and was previously offered only to those at least 65 years old who were residents of long-term care facilities, clients in interim or transitional care beds, respite care clients or unimmunized residents admitted to long-term care facilities during the flu season.

This year, people 65 and older who meet one of the following criteria are also eligible:

  • Residents of supportive and assisted living housing.
  • Those who are newly incarcerated or transferred from other federal or out-of-province correctional facilities.
  • Those receiving home care services while on a waiting list for admission into a long-term care facility.
  • Those living on a First Nation or in a remote or isolated community.
  • Those living north of the 53rd parallel.

As a result, the province has nearly doubled its order of that vaccine to 21,500 doses, up from 11,500 last year.

But Wab Kinew, Leader of the Opposition NDP, said the Pallister government should have made the high-dose flu vaccine available to all seniors, period.

“Prairie Mountain Health’s appointment system for flu clinics is already overwhelmed with calls from concerned people wanting to protect themselves and loved ones,” Kinew said.

“As we head into flu season, the health minister needs to offer high-dose flu vaccines free of charge to all Manitoba seniors as we work to flatten the curve and keep families safe.”

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Quebec reports another quadruple-digit COVID-19 case count, 20 new deaths – Squamish Chief



A COVID-19 outbreak at a Quebec pork-processing plant grew Thursday as Manitoba expanded its restrictions and Alberta announced a testing pilot at two international border crossings that it hopes will eventually boost its ailing travel industry.

Olymel said 62 workers at its plant southeast of Quebec City had tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

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The union representing plant workers is calling for a temporary closure, but the company says it is following guidance from public health officials who have not recommended a shutdown.

One worker died following a positive test result, but it wasn’t yet determined whether the death was due to the novel coronavirus.

Quebec, the province hardest-hit by COVID-19, reported 1,033 new cases Thursday and 20 additional deaths. Five hundred and fifty-three people were in hospital, including 101 in intensive care.

Premier Francois Legault said chances are slim restaurants in Quebec’s largest cities will be allowed to reopen this month as the province continue to report daily case increases in the quadruple digits.

Montreal and Quebec City have been under a 28-day partial lockdown since Oct. 1.

“At this time, we need to reduce even the risk of contact because we cannot afford to continue having about 1,000 new cases every day,” Legault said.

Manitoba reported four COVID-19 fatalities on Thursday in its deadliest day yet.

Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer, announced 147 new cases — 87 in Winnipeg, where more restrictions on restaurants, pubs and gathering sizes came into effect this week.

He said the measures will also apply to the northern health region and Churchill starting next week. Extra measures are being put in place for schools in the Winnipeg area and the north starting Monday, including cancelling field trips, banning choirs and wind instruments and requiring substitute teachers to wear medical masks.

Manitoba’s daily test positivity rate is up to 5.6 per cent.

“We have to change things. We fell back on the fundamentals,” Roussin said. “We got back to all that normalcy that we want, but we just know this is what happens when we attempt that.”

Also Thursday, the European Union’s council reimposed a travel ban on Canada, reversing a decision in June that lifted entry restrictions on a number of non-EU countries. Europe is battling a second wave of the pandemic.

In Alberta, Premier Jason Kenney announced a joint federal-provincial pilot project that will enable international travellers re-entering Canada via the Calgary International Airport or the Coutts land border crossing from Montana to avoid a full 14-day quarantine. Instead, they would only have to isolate for a matter of days.

The pilot is to begin on Nov. 2 and is open to asymptomatic travellers returning to Canada who are Canadian citizens, permanent residents or foreign nationals permitted to enter Canada.

“Though a lot of work lies ahead, we can see a return to normal travel,” said Kenney. “The results will help shape provincial and federal policy and ultimately they’ll help to find a new approach for international travel.”

Those who voluntarily participate will receive a COVID-19 test upon entry into Canada before going into quarantine. If the result is negative, they can leave, as long as they promise to get tested six or seven days later at a pharmacy.

Participants will be subject to daily symptom checks and will have to wear masks in public places and avoid visiting high-risk groups.

Anyone who chooses not to get a test will still have to quarantine for two weeks.

Kenney said the provincial tourism industry has suffered a 63 per cent drop in spending this year. He also noted that three per cent of the province’s active cases were acquired through travel.

“We must find ways to bring back safe travel if we’re ever going to get the economy firing again on all cylinders.”

Kenney made his remarks by phone as he was self-isolating at home. The premier tested negative for the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, but said he will remain in isolation for another week.

Kenney attended events with Municipal Affairs Minister Tracy Allard, who contracted COVID-19 last week.

Alberta reported 427 new infections in Thursday’s update, a new record and the second day in a row its daily case count breached the 400 mark. Its test positivity rate was at three per cent on Wednesday.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said his government is keeping a “sharp eye” on the Alberta border pilot project.

“I’d be open to it, but I just first want to see what’s happening in Calgary,” said Ford, who noted that Pearson International Airport in Toronto gets far more volume and international traffic.

Ontario reported 841 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday as two more Toronto hospitals declared outbreaks.

Canada’s most populous province also recorded nine more deaths and had a daily test positivity rate of 2.5 per cent.

Two hundred and seventy people were in hospital, including 74 in intensive care and 48 on ventilators.

The Scarborough Health Network said six patients were infected in one unit at its general hospital, and the University Health Network said it was dealing with an outbreak involving four patients at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute.

St. Michael’s Hospital, St. Joseph’s Health Centre, Toronto Western Hospital and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health have also declared outbreaks among staff or patients.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 22, 2020.

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COVID-19 Today: A look at the numbers for Newmarket, York Region, Ontario –



Newmarket (reported Wednesday, Oct. 21 at 5 p.m.)

  • 348 cases of COVID-19
  • 4 new cases since Oct. 20
  • 303 (+5) cases resolved (87%)
  • 23 (-1) active cases
  • 22 deaths
  • 1 (-2) hospitalized, 1 in ICU
  • 2 institutional outbreaks: outbreak #2 at Mackenzie Place LTC (2 health-care workers);outbreak #2 at Vita Community Living (3 residents, 7 staff)
  • 4 schools under surveillance: Newmarket High; Huron Heights Secondary, Terry Fox P.S., Sir William Mulock Secondary
  • 18 (+1) new cases in last 7 days
  • 390 (+5) cases per 100,000 population
  • 1,084 tests Oct. 11 to 17: 14 positive (1%), 1,067 negative, 3 indeterminate

The Nitty Gritty

  • 136 cases outbreak, or 39%
  • 93 (+2) cases close contact, or 27%
  • 65 (+1) cases community transmission, or 19%
  • 13 cases under investigation, or 5%
  • 24 cases travel, or 7%
  • 11 cases workplace outbreak, or 3%
  • 68 cases age 19 to 34, 20%
  • 62 cases age 80+, or 18%
  • 54 cases age 55 to 64, or 16%
  • 54 (+1) cases age 35 to 44, or 16%
  • 49 cases age 65 to 79, or 14%
  • 43 (+3) cases age 45 to 54, or 12%
  • 9 cases age 4 to 13, or 3%
  • 8 cases age 14 to 18, or 2%
  • 1 case age 0 to 3, or 0%

York Region (reported Wednesday, Oct. 21 at 5 p.m.)

  • 5,816 confirmed cases of COVID-19
  • 103 new cases since Oct. 20
  • 4,846 (+76) cases resolved (83%)
  • 703 (+23) active cases
  • 2 more deaths, totalling 267
    • An 86-year-old Markham woman passed away Oct. 20 at Mackenzie Health, Richmond Hill (institutional outbreak at Mackenzie Health)
    • An 80-year-old Vaughan man passed away Oct. 17 at Etobicoke General Hospital (close contact) 
  • 41 (-3) cases are hospitalized; 6 (-1) patients in ICU
  • 166 (+4) workplace outbreaks, 21 (+3) active, 871 (+9) cases  

Recovery Measures

  • 607 (-23) new cases reported in last 7 days
  • 543 (+11) cases per 100,000 population
  • 78 (+2) new community cases daily average in last 7 days
  • 0.95 (-0.02)  7-day median reproductive number*
  • 40% of new cases unknown source of infection 
  • 13,019 total tests Oct. 11 to 17: 550 (4%) positive, 12,448 negative, 21 indeterminate

*Rt is the average number of people who become infected by an infectious person. If above 1.0, the virus will spread quickly. When Rt is below 1.0, the virus stops spreading.

Cases in schools, child care centres

  • Full daily reporthere
  • 4 (+1) school outbreaks
    • Outbreak declared Oct. 21 at Sir Walter Scott Public School, Richmond Hill (2 staff)
  • 2 schools closed
  • 99 (+5) school cases to date
  • 69 (+4) schools under surveillance, 41 (+4) active
  • 5 (+3) active child care centre outbreaks
  • 12 (+4) child care cases to date

Institutional Outbreaks

  • 108 (+1) institutional outbreaks; 23 (-1) active
    • Outbreak #3 declared Oct. 20 at Participation House – Farintosh, Markham (1 health-care worker)
    • 12-day outbreak #3 resolved Oct. 20 at Villa Leonardo Gambin LTC, Vaughan (2 health-care workers)
    • 25-day outbreak resolved Oct. 20 at Mackenzie Health LTC, Richmond Hill (2 health-care workers)

The Nitty Gritty

  • 2,528 (+46) cases, or 43%, close contact
  • 1,415 (+29) cases, or 24%, community transmission
  • 1,076 (+2) cases, or 19%, institutional outbreak
  • 229 cases under investigation, or 4%
  • 250 cases, or 5%, travel
  • 238 (+4) cases, or 4%, workplace outbreak
  • 1,547 (+25) cases age 19 to 34, or 27%
  • 972 (+20) cases age 45 to 54, or 17%
  • 908 (+11) cases age 55 to 64, or 16%
  • 710 (+18) cases ages 35 to 44, or 12%
  • 622 (+10) cases age 65 to 79, or 11%
  • 599 (+2) cases age 80+, or 11%
  • 211 (+8) cases age 14 to 18, or 4%
  • 188 (+6) cases age 4 to 13, or 3%
  • 59 (+1) cases age 0 to 3, or 1%

Around the region:

  • Vaughan 2,512 (+39) cases, 341 (+11) active
  • Markham 1,356 (+41) cases, 167 (+16) active
  • Richmond Hill 731 (+13) cases, 60 (+1) active
  • King 143 (+1) cases, 37 (-1) active
  • Aurora 232 cases, 24 (-2) active
  • Newmarket 348 (+4) cases, 23 (-1) active
  • Whitchurch-Stouffville 166 (+2) cases, 23 active
  • East Gwillimbury 130 (+2) cases, 22 active
  • Georgina 182 (+1) cases, 2 active

Ontario (reported today at 10:30 a.m.):

  • 67,527 confirmed cases of COVID-19 
  • 841 new cases since Oct. 20
  • 9 more deaths, totalling 3,071
  • 58,066 resolved 86% of cases
  • 270 (+10) cases are hospitalized; 74 (+3) in ICU; 48 (-1) on ventilators
  • 38,860 more tests completed, with 34,784 awaiting results
  • 2.5% (-1.1%) positivity Oct. 20

Cases in schools, child care centres and homes 

  • Full daily reporthere

Institutional Outbreaks 

  • 531 (+2) outbreaks at long-term care homes, 79 (-1) active
  • 249 outbreaks at retirement homes, 45 (-2) active
  • 118 outbreaks at hospitals, 15 (-1) active
  • 1,984 (+3) long-term care resident deaths
  • 6,487 (+25) cases are long-term care residents
  • 7,532 (+29) cases are health-care workers (11.3%)

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70 new COVID-19 cases, 1 more death in Ottawa –



Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is reporting 70 cases of COVID-19 and one additional death Thursday.

That’s precisely on par with the rolling seven-day average of new cases in the city. Slightly more than half of the new cases reported Thursday are people under 40, OPH said.

A total of 6,296 Ottawa residents have now tested positive for COVID-19, including 675 known active cases, 5,312 resolved cases and 309 deaths.

Ottawa’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches, who announced on Sept.18 that a second wave of the illness had struck Ottawa, said Wednesday there are signs the rate spread in the capital may be plateauing.

There was still plenty of availability at Ottawa’s COVID-19 testing sites Thursday, though the backlog of swabs sitting at local labs for more than 24 hours had grown to more than 2,300 on Wednesday.

OPH is now hearing about positive tests within 48 hours 73 per cent per cent of the time, continuing its slow improvement.

There are now 49 patients being treated for COVID-19 in Ottawa hospitals, five of them currently in intensive care — the fewest in an ICU since early October.

There are new outbreaks at All Saints High School and École élémentaire catholique Montfort, while OPH has declared an outbreak at École élémentaire catholique Saint-Joseph d’Orléans over. There are active outbreaks at 10 Ottawa schools.

Elsewhere, the Hastings Prince Edward Health Unit is reporting three new cases of COVID-19, while 32 more people have tested positive in western Quebec.

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