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Manitoba's COVID-19 numbers trend downward as bars and restaurants face restrictions – OttawaMatters.com

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WINNIPEG — Manitoba’s COVID-19 numbers have started to drop somewhat following a surge last week and after restrictions were imposed on restaurants and bars.

Health officials reported 80 new cases and the deaths of two residents at a Winnipeg personal care home Monday.

It was the fourth consecutive day that the new case number was in the double-digits after peaking last week at 173.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said there is no definitive way to link the drop to earlier closing times that were imposed on licensed restaurants and bars in the Winnipeg region two weeks ago.

But he said that was the aim of the rules — to cut the case count by reducing the amount of time people spend gathered in groups in close quarters.

“We just know with this virus that it’s prolonged indoor contact, and so businesses that have that as a major part of their business operation are unfortunately quite affected by this pandemic.

“And so when we see the cases going up, we have to do whatever we can to try to keep the numbers manageable.”

Further restrictions in greater Winnipeg took effect Monday. Casinos and live-entertainment nightclubs must close. Bars, lounges and restaurants must operate at half capacity.

The measures are to be in place for two weeks and may be extended if COVID-19 numbers don’t drop.

Bars that are attached to hotels — licensed with the province under the category of “beverage rooms” — were originally supposed to be closed for two weeks as well. But the government changed its mind at the last minute and allowed them to stay open under the same half-capacity limit as bars, lounges and restaurants.

“We’re happy that they’re having a different thought on that,” Scott Jocelyn, president of the Manitoba Hotel Association, said of the government move.

“So many areas of our industry have been impacted (by the pandemic) and it (would have been) just another body blow.”

Business groups in Winnipeg have said bars and restaurants were already hurting and the increased restrictions are likely to force some to close unless the Manitoba government offers financial help.

The province has already offered general wage subsidies to businesses, but has been noncommittal on further aid geared toward the hospitality sector.

The province is also trying to tackle long wait times for testing by using doctors’ offices after normal business hours.

The first office is scheduled to open Tuesday evening at a walk-in clinic in the city’s south end. Appointments will be available online.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 19, 2020

Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press

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Amazon's Covid Dilemma: Mandate Vaccinations and Risk Losing Workers – Bloomberg

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While much of Corporate America scrambled to adjust Covid-19 policies this summer in response to a surge of cases, Amazon.com Inc. was dismantling its coronavirus testing sites. Sequestered corners of warehouses and conference rooms where, just a few weeks ago employees were performing nasal swabs, are now blocked off or cleared of equipment.

This may seem counterintuitive as the delta variant rips through many of the states where Amazon has warehouses. But the company says employees have plenty of other ways to get tested. Amazon, employees say, has been loath to make the tests compulsory for fear of alienating the Covid skeptics in its ranks. The same has held true for forcing workers to get vaccinated.

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Delta variant behind increase in COVID-19 case numbers in British Columbia: experts – Trail Times

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The number of COVID-19 cases caused by the Delta variant is doubling every seven to 10 days in British Columbia, experts say.

Prof. Sarah Otto of the University of British Columbia said the variant, which first became prominent in India, is displacing the one that originated in the United Kingdom.

“Delta is now the most common variant in the province, with its frequency doubling every week relative to Alpha,” said Otto, who is an expert in the university’s zoology department on the mathematical models of pandemic growth and evolution.

“The Delta variant increases the viral load by about one-thousand-fold, making it much easier to catch and transmit.”

COVID-19 cases in B.C. continued their upward march as the province reported more than 700 infections Tuesday over a four-day period, with more than half of those in the Interior where the vaccination rate is lower.

Paul Tupper, a mathematics professor from Simon Fraser University, said the Delta variant is a “large part” of the reason for the increase in COVID-19 case numbers.

The relaxing of restrictions and reopening of the economy have also contributed to the growth, he said.

If the Alpha variant infects two people on an average, the Delta infects three, he said.

“And that’s bad news.”

The good news is that areas with higher vaccination rates are showing fewer infections even among the Delta variant, he said.

The Vancouver Coastal region has a vaccination rate of about 80 per cent while it is 65 per cent for the Interior and that is reflected in COVID-19 case numbers, Tupper said.

Dean Karlen, a physics professor at the University of Victoria, said the emergence of the Delta variant is stronger than scientists expected, and Canada’s next wave has the potential to be similar to what is happening in the United States if no special measures such as mask mandates are reintroduced.

“But right now, in Alberta and British Columbia, it’s very clear that Delta is starting to play a big role,” he said.

The exact trajectory and intensity of growth will become clearer as more data comes in over the next few weeks, he said.

Otto said B.C. is beginning a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections, but how high it will get and how fast it will rise depends on everybody’s behaviour.

The two things people can do to prevent the wave from getting “very high” is get vaccinated and avoid indoor crowded spaces without a mask, she said.

The province and the country will continue seeing such waves as new, more transmissible variants arise, but Otto noted that “vaccinations are really protecting people from the worst ravages of this disease.”

Caroline Colijn, a mathematics professor at Simon Fraser University, said most of the infections are likely to be among the unvaccinated population.

“And they of course have the same risk of hospitalization they always did or maybe more with Delta because it may be more severe and higher viral loads,” she said.

While the vaccines are about 90 per cent effective against the virus, Tupper said there will still be some people who get sick and transmit to others.

A higher degree of immunity can be achieved by vaccinating children under 12, he said.

Health Canada has not yet approved a vaccine for children under 12.

“Children when immunized can contribute to herd immunity, and that makes other people that they’re with safer,” he said.

It “definitely makes sense” to have some restrictions until a higher vaccination rate is reached, Tupper said.

“So, anything that buys us time, that allows us to have fewer infections before we get our vaccination numbers high, that makes sense.”

—Hina Alam, The Canadian Press

RELATED: Vaccinated? You’re 10x less likely to catch and transmit COVID-19, but risk remains

RELATED: B.C. reports 742 new COVID cases, 1 death over August long weekend

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B.C. urges unvaccinated people to get their COVID shot during Walk-in Wednesday – Barriere Star Journal

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As cases continue to rise across B.C., health officials are urging anyone who is not yet fully vaccinated to drop in at a vaccine clinic for Walk-In Wednesday today (Aug. 4).

According to the province, anyone ages 12 and older is eligible for their first shot, while anyone who got their first dose before June 16 can get their second. People getting their second dose are asked to bring their immunization cards.

All vaccine clinics in B.C. will be offering walk-in appointments for either Pfizer or Moderna. There is no need to register beforehand. To find a clinic in your community, click here.

B.C. recorded 742 cases and one death over the long weekend, a marked increase from even two weeks ago. The average number of cases over the long weekend – four reporting periods – was 186 cases. For the weekend starting on July 16, there were an average of 52 cases each day.

Vaccines, which health officials and experts say remain the best way to keep cases down, have also risen. On July 19, 79.9 per cent of people had their first dose and 53.2 per cent of people had their second dose. As of Tuesday, 81.4 per cent had their first dose and 67.3 per cent had their second.

Research by an independent modelling group shows that increasing the first-dose vaccination rate in a community from 70 per cent to 90 per cent can decrease cases five-fold.

READ MORE: Vaccinated? You’re 10x less likely to catch and transmit COVID-19, but risk remains


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