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Maritimes work to stop COVID-19 spread as cases grow – CTV News

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HALIFAX —
On Saturday and Sunday, the Maritimes dealt with the unfortunate but expected realization that COVID-19 had entered the region. With 11 cases, both confirmed and presumptive, all provinces in Atlantic Canada have been touched by the pandemic’s international reach. However, despite the severity and inconveniences the outbreak has presented, all regions and businesses are taking proactive measures to protect residents and slow the spread.

Nova Scotia last to be hit

On Sunday in Nova Scotia, the province’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Robert Strang, announced three presumptive cases of COVID-19 were reported in N.S.–the last province to report cases of COVID-19. However, while the tests were positive, they will be sent to a national lab for official confirmation.

Like many cases, the three presumptive cases involve travel outside of Canada.

“We have a 61-year-old woman, who lives in Kings County, who travelled to Australia; a 50-year-old male who lives in HRM, who was travelling to the USA; and a male in their 30’s, travelling extensively throughout Europe,” said Strang during a press conference.

Also present at the conference was Premier Stephen McNeil, who said the province is working under the guidelines of the Health Protection Act.

McNeil also added he is taking strict measures by closing schools and daycare centres for two weeks following March Break – and that’s not all. March Break Camps have been cancelled; long-term care facilities are closed to the public; Casinos in Sydney and Halifax are closing at midnight on Sunday, and bar owners aren’t allowed to operate VLTs.

“Restaurants and bars are asked to practice social distancing of two metres or six feet,” said McNeil, addressing local food establishments. “If that means moving tables and seating, do so.”

Premier McNeil says the province is also placing its own health inspectors at Halifax Stanfield International Airport to tell domestic and international travellers how to proceed if they are feeling sick. People returning to Nova Scotia from far away destinations are being told to stay home for 14 days and self-isolate, as Strang says travel is directly linked to the presumptive cases of COVID-19 in N.S.

In addition to international and domestic travel, Strang notes travel within the province is also discouraged.

“Really ask yourself, ‘is this something I need to do?’ says Strang.

 

Case number climbs in New Brunswick

On Sunday, four new presumptive cases of COVID-19 were announced in New Brunswick – all of them connected to the first travel-related case, bringing the province’s total to six.

“I know this can be very disconcerting and very stressful to hear, but I’m not surprised by this, and I expect there will be more travel-related cases that result in a cluster of very close contacts or household members,” said New Brunswick chief medical officer of health, Dr. Jennifer Russell at a press conference.

The four new presumptive cases are all in zone three, or the central part of the province, and include a man and woman between the ages of 50 and 60, as well as two men between 20 and 30 years old. The new cases bring the province’s total to five presumptive and one confirmed following over 200 tests for COVID-19 in the region.

“We need to walk a line between preparing for this, and overreacting,” said New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs.

To stop the spread, schools will be closed in the province for two weeks beginning Monday tomorrow. New visitor restrictions are also in place for all Horizon Health hospitals and facilities, with a limit of two family members. In addition to many closures, jury trials have been postponed.

While the precautions might be stressful for residents, Higgs cautioned against panic.

“We have been talking with the major grocers and the supply chains, and they say we are not in any risk of running out of our supply chain,” said Higgs. “We are running out of specific items, and that could be a 24-36 hour delay. The reason for that? It’s panic buying.”

As N.B. continues to navigates the outbreak, regional health authorities are adding community assessment centres throughout the province. However, access to those testing sites is by appointment only.

Meanwhile, officials from all provinces are urging residents to only call 811 if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

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New COVID-19 outbreak at Ottawa retirement home as cases hit 122 – CBC.ca

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Ottawa public health officials have confirmed 16 new cases of COVID-19 in the city, including a second outbreak at a retirement home.

Dr. Vera Etches, the city’s medical officer of health, said in an update Sunday afternoon that Ottawa Public Health was investigating an outbreak of the respiratory illness at the Maplewood Retirement Community.

The Industrial Avenue retirement home is the second in the city to have a confirmed case of COVID-19, after a resident at the Promenade retirement home in Orléans fell ill last week.

All residents at the home are now in self-isolation, Etches said, and staff have been urged to wear masks when entering the building.

The new numbers announced Sunday bring the total of confirmed cases in the national capital to 122.

Three residents at the Almonte Country Haven, a retirement home in Almonte, Ont., have tested positive for COVID-19. (Patrick Louiseize/Radio-Canada)

Elsewhere in the region

Just outside the city, three residents at the Almonte Country Haven, a retirement home in Almonte, Ont., have also tested positive for COVID-19.

A post on the retirement home’s Facebook page said that staff had made the “difficult decision to isolate every resident to their room” to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

Ontario’s health ministry was reporting 211 new cases of COVID-19 Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 1,355.

In the Outaouais, meanwhile, public health officials also confirmed two new cases Sunday, bringing the total there to 28.

As of Sunday, Quebec had 2,840 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 22 deaths. 

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OPH investigating 16 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ottawa, bringing total to 122 – OttawaMatters.com

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Ottawa Public Health says it is investigation 122 positive confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the city — that’s 16 new cases in total.  

The city health authority is also investigating two institutional outbreaks of the virus, one of which at Maplewood Retirement Community, OPH confirmed in a Sunday statement.

This is following the health authority’s announcement of 31 confirmed cases on Saturday.

According to Dr. Vera Etches, the retirement home has implemented outbreak management and OPH is connecting with close contacts.

“All residents have been notified and are in self-isolation,” Etches said in a statement. “Staff at the retirement home continue to be screened and have been instructed to wear personal protective equipment in the building, specifically wearing a mask when entering the building and following droplet/contact procedures in all resident rooms.”

Further details of individuals who have tested positive were not provided. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve and every citizen must continue doing their part to keep themselves, their family members, their neighbours, co-workers and community members healthy and safe, and reduce the spread of the virus,” Etches added.

Etches urges everyone to continue to practicing physical distancing and to self-isolate if symptoms develop for 14 days or travel was involved. Those with the virus are also to continue their isolation 24 hours after symptoms have fully resolved. 

People are also encouraged to avoid visiting elderly friends or relatives unless the visit is essential. 

For more tips on how to stay safe, visit the OPH website. 

The total number of positive cases in Ontario is now at 1,355. 

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‘Tremendous’ response from blood donors has supply keeping pace with demand – Red Deer Advocate

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OTTAWA — Canadians have been coming forward in large numbers to donate blood after Canadian Blood Services warned of a possible shortage as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Blood donor clinics have extended their hours and put in place strict safety protocols for anyone giving blood.

“The response has been tremendous,” Dr. Isra Levy, the agency’s vice-president of medical affairs and innovation, said Friday.

“From our point of view, the numbers are very, very satisfying in the sense that we’re able to match demand with supply. We really need to keep up that altruism that has motivated donors to come in.”

Canadian Blood Services operates a national blood inventory that allows products to be regularly shifted around the country to meet hospital and patient needs.

About 400,000 of Canada’s 37 million residents give blood on a regular basis.

Levy warned nearly two weeks ago that Canada was facing a critical blood shortage. Donations had dropped about 20 per cent because of concerns about the novel coronavirus.

Because of a suspension of elective surgeries, the demand for blood is also down about 15 per cent, Levy said Friday.

While things are going well now, he added, the concern is whether Canadians will continue to keep donating over the long run.

“We’re going to have this challenge for many weeks to come and the implication is we’re going to need our donors to really continue to show up,” Levy said.

“They need to think about things not about as an urgent and immediate need for blood, but as an ongoing, pressing concern that we have about a potential for a sudden drop in inventory.”

Calgary’s blood donor clinic had to reduce appointments last week because of long lineups and wait times.

Donors waited behind a red line outside the clinic while checking in. Inside, chairs were placed strategically in the waiting room and every other bed was used. Health workers wiped down every donor station thoroughly between patients.

Some donors recently took to social media to discuss the importance of giving.

“First real trip out of the house in a while to Canadian Blood Services. As a former recipient, I understand first hand the importance of donors,” wrote Katie Mitchell on Instagram.

“They have put great steps in place to have donors maintain social distancing requirements. So happy I wasn’t rejected.”

“My dad needs transfusions every three weeks so in addition to worrying about COVID-19, he’s concerned about blood supply shortages,” wrote Sara Jane O’Neill on Twitter.

“Please donate if you can.”

Levy said some donors in Ottawa have told him that they feel they’re able to make a difference when everything else in the world is out of their control.

“It’s a sense of contribution in an uncertain time,” he said.

“The people who are showing up at our donor collection centres, anecdotally, express a sense of satisfaction that they’re able to do something for the community beyond staying at home and finding ways to fill their time.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 27, 2020

— By Bill Graveland in Calgary. Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

The Canadian Press

Coronavirus

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