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More COVID cases in area – Kingston This Week

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Holy Cross Catholic School in Kemptville is shown here. Photo credit: Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario/Facebook

KEMPTVILLE – Classes resumed on Monday after the Catholic elementary school here closed its doors following a COVID-19 outbreak last week.

The good news came as the regional case count rose by three over the weekend – as did the number of people who have recovered.

Holy Cross Catholic School closed for the day on Friday after officials identified two confirmed cases of COVID-19 on site – the first school-based cases in the region – but promptly reopened after a thorough investigation.

“Contact tracing has been completed by the local health unit and no new cases of COVID-19 have been reported at the school,” the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario wrote on social media.

“We are continuing to work closely with the local health unit and we will notify parents should the circumstances change.”

Of the two cases, one was confirmed to be a staff member and one was a student, according to provincial data.

The school closed for a day because testing and isolation requirements caused a staff shortage, the school board added. This prompted safety concerns, forcing them to close for a day.

According to the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit, an outbreak is defined as “two or more lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in students and/or staff in a school” that can reasonably be linked to each other.

Susan Healey, a spokeswoman for the health unit, said they have not received any more positive test results from anyone at the school since the initial cases were announced, but they’re still awaiting results for some close contacts of the people who tested positive.

Those people will stay home while they wait for their results, she said.

“In a school, everyone who is identified as a case or a high risk contact of a case is excluded for 14 days,” Healey said on Monday.

“High risk contacts are recommended for testing. They will also remain on isolation for the full 14 days, even if a negative result is obtained, to ensure nothing further develops.”

Provincial guidelines say anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 must isolate for 14 days after the onset of symptoms – or 14 days after a positive test if there are no symptoms – as long as there is “no fever and symptoms have been improving for three days,” Healey added.

The Upper Canada District School Board also confirmed late last week a person at Chimo Elementary School in Smiths Falls tested positive for the virus, the first case in the region’s largest school board.

The letter from the health unit’s Dr. Paula Stewart said they had been in contact with and isolated all students and staff that may have had “high risk exposure.”

The school did not close and an outbreak was not declared. Provincial data indicates the patient is a student.

“This is the first positive case of COVID-19 for our school board and Chimo was able to provide all the necessary information public health needed to do their contact tracing,” school board superintendent Dave Coombs said in a statement.

“Chimo staff take every precaution to ensure the safety of our students, and our students are very good at following the heightened health and hygiene practices that have been put in place. The safety of our students and staff remains a priority for us.”

The news came as the province announced 700 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday – the highest one-day increase ever recorded. Health Minister Christine Elliott said 60 per cent of Monday’s cases were in people under the age of 40.

Locally, the health unit reported three new cases on Monday but the total sits at 11 active cases because three other people also recovered from the virus.

The number of total cases rose from 378 to 381, while the number of patients who have recovered rose from 315 to 318. Since the start of the pandemic, the area has seen 52 COVID-19 deaths.

All 11 active cases are people in the community, as opposed to health-care workers or residents of seniors’ facilities. None of the current patients are in hospital.

The health unit was reporting six active cases in Grenville County, three active cases in West Leeds, and two cases in Lanark.

The numbers are based on data as of 4 p.m. Sunday.

sbedford@postmedia.com

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Calgary COVID outbreak of at least 49 active cases linked to recent wedding: officials – National Post

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CALGARY — Alberta Health says 49 active COVID-19 cases have been linked to a wedding in Calgary earlier this month.

The health agency says the wedding had a large number of Albertans from different households.

Alberta Health spokesman Tom McMillan says aggressive contact tracing is underway to identify anyone who may have been exposed to make sure they are isolating and getting tested.

He did not say how many people attended the wedding and says specifics about individual cases cannot be disclosed because of patient confidentiality.

COVID-19 restrictions implemented by the province say a maximum of 100 people can attend outdoor and indoor seated events, such as wedding ceremonies, funeral services, movie theatres, indoor arts and culture performances.

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings.

“This is a reminder to all Albertans that this virus is still here and any social gathering carries a risk of exposure,” he said in an email Tuesday.

“It is important that nobody attend if they are feeling ill with even mild symptoms, or if they are awaiting test results.”

He says it is also important that organizers do everything possible to comply with the public health guidance in place, including having enough space for physical distancing between cohorts, following gathering size restrictions and avoiding sharing food and utensils.

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People with dementia among hardest hit by COVID-19 health restrictions – CBC.ca

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Before COVID-19, Lyne Gauthier did her best to keep her husband’s mind from slipping away by organizing activities they had enjoyed together before he was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

She would visit the long term facility where Yves Dessureault, 66, has lived for three years and take him on simple outings.

“We’d go grocery shopping, go out for an ice cream cone,” said Gauthier. Sometimes they would just “listen to music and dance.”

But then the coronavirus hit, and there were no more outings.

There were also no more services like pet therapy or music therapy within the facility due to the pandemic. 

Gauthier says she has watched her husband deteriorate dramatically in the past six months. He’s now considered to be in the late stages of Alzheimer’s.

“I think COVID has really fast-tracked the progression of his symptoms,” she said.

Lyne Gauthier has watched her husband slip further and further away amid restrictions limiting family visits, outings, and therapeutic connections with the outside world. 3:26

Gauthier feels the health rules that curtailed their outings and deprived Dessureault of face-to-face contact robbed him of precious time as a husband, father and grandfather.

At his care home, there is little mingling these days and many residents eat their meals in their rooms.

The social isolation has left him more fragile, both physically and emotionally, said Gauthier.

Since the spring, she says, Dessureault appears more upset and anxious. His balance has gotten worse and even the simplest words have lost their meaning.

“If I want to show him where we’d like to sit, I need to tap the seat and do more gestures,” said Gauthier.

“There is a lot he can’t do anymore.”

Worsening symptoms linked to lockdowns

During the pandemic, many residents in long-term care experienced rapid cognitive decline, increased depression and more behavioural symptoms such as wandering and agitation, said Dr. Isabelle Vedel, a public health physician and associate professor in McGill University’s Department of Family Medicine.

McGill University’s Dr. Isabelle Vedel is leading a research project that will examine the impact of the pandemic on people living with dementia. (McGill University)

There is some preliminary research from the United States and the U.K. suggesting people with dementia were hit the hardest by the virus. 

Not only were they at an increased risk of being infected and of dying from COVID-19, but there were thousands of so-called excess deaths — meaning many more people died than the average for the same period in previous years.

Vedel fears the same will be true in Canada.

“People living in long-term care were extremely affected by the pandemic,” said Vedel. “Eighty per cent of the deaths happened in long-term care in Canada, and we know that approximately 80 per cent of people in long-term care have dementia.”

With funding from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, Vedel is leading a research project in collaboration with Alzheimer’s societies across Canada that will measure the deaths of people with dementia during the pandemic.

It will also examine what impact the disruption of services and access to health care may have had on their lives.

For instance, during the first wave of the pandemic, Quebec feared hospitals would be overrun, so long-term care facilities were asked not to send people to the ER, said Vedel.

“It’s very probable that even though they had acute illnesses, they were not sent to the emergency department, so they didn’t receive the appropriate care they needed.”

Lessons for the 2nd wave

Maintaining services as much as possible during subsequent waves of the virus is paramount, Vedel said.

People with dementia rely on home care, community services, family physicians and caregivers. If there are obstacles to getting these services, people with dementia will decline and fall between the cracks, she said.

“We have to make an extra effort for them and make sure that they can be well cared for during the pandemic,” said Vedel.

She expects the research group will have statistics and recommendations in the spring.

Disruptions, reimposed restrictions

With parts of Canada now firmly in a second wave of the pandemic, all the changing health precautions and disruption can be especially distressing for people with dementia.

In Quebec, for instance, more and more regions are in red zones, where visits are once again limited in long-term care homes and private seniors’ residences. The partial lockdown also means many programs are suspended.

The goal is to limit contacts and keep the virus from sweeping through those facilities as it did in the first wave.

The directive to wear masks or face coverings to slow the spread poses a problem for these patients because it’s harder to read facial expressions, which they rely on to communicate and interact.

Many of the outings Gauthier and her husband enjoyed, like going out for an ice cream, were curtailed due to COVID-19 public health restrictions. (Submitted by Lyne Gauthier)

Overmedication is another problem: As patients get more agitated, more medication is being prescribed, including anti-psychotic drugs to calm them down, said Nouha Ben Gaied, the director of research and development for the Federation of Quebec Alzheimer Societies.

These drugs, “are inappropriate to use for people with dementia and they can cause more harm than benefits” said Ben Gaied.

Ben Gaied hopes Quebec’s health ministry has learned lessons from the first wave.

Nouha Ben Gaied, director of research and development for the Federation of Quebec Alzheimer Societies, said people with dementia are being prescribed more medication to keep them calm during the pandemic. (Dave St-Amant/CBC)

A spokesperson for the ministry said it has introduced measures to better protect this population and reduce the number of excess deaths.

That includes better access to a family doctor and improving the transition between primary care and specialized services, said Marie-Louise Harvey.

The government has also recruited nearly 10,000 new patient attendants, about 7,000 of whom are already working in the system. The rest are still in training.

The province has asked long-term care homes to limit the movement of employees between long-term care homes as much as possible.

Infection control and prevention is also being closely watched. 

Even so, since September, some of the new outbreaks in long-term care homes or private seniors’ residences in Quebec have been in units for people with a cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s or dementia. 

‘He deserves better’

Gauthier’s greatest fear is her husband getting COVID.

She’s concerned about the high number of cases in Quebec, and what will happen to her husband if the partial lockdown is extended beyond the end of the month.

She’s doing everything she can to help her husband connect, though now that his care home is in a red zone, all she can offer are video chats with family, walks on the grounds or jaunts in the car to listen to music.

One of the activities that still makes Dessureault light up, she says, is a visit with his grandchildren — even if it is through a window or on FaceTime. Dessureault loves children, she says, and seeing them brings out his goofy, playful side.

“I find my husband for a few more seconds, a minute. It’s as if my husband is back,” said Gauthier, fighting to hold back tears. “The emotions are there. They connect. It’s just simple.”

Dessureault gets a visit from his grandchildren through the window of his care home. (Submitted by Lyne Gauthier)

She says she knows he’s still there, underneath the disease, but his quality of life has spiralled downward during the pandemic.

“He deserves better,” said Gauthier, who sometimes finds it hard to keep her spirits up.

“As a society, we can do better.”

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At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health – CityNews Edmonton

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CALGARY – Alberta Health said 49 active COVID-19 cases have been linked to a wedding in Calgary earlier this month.

The health agency said the wedding had a large number of Albertans from different households.

Alberta Health spokesman Tom McMillan said aggressive contact tracing is underway to identify anyone who may have been exposed to make sure they are isolating and getting tested.

He did not say how many people attended the wedding and said specifics about individual cases cannot be disclosed because of patient confidentiality.

COVID-19 restrictions implemented by the province state a maximum of 100 people can attend outdoor and indoor seated events, such as
wedding ceremonies, funeral services, movie theatres, indoor arts and culture performances.

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings.

WATCH: Recent rise in numbers due to large social events 

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