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More evidence of community transmission in 11th confirmed COVID-19 case – Owen Sound Sun Times



The Grey Bruce Public Health Unit in Owen Sound. PHOTO PROVIDED BY GBPHU

An 11th confirmed case of COVID-19 was reported in Grey-Bruce Monday. It’s the second local case that points to evidence of community transmission.

The woman in her 30s has been hospitalized, according to a daily situation report sent out by the Grey Bruce Health Unit.

Grey-Bruce’s Medical Officer or Health Dr. Ian Arra said the health unit is continuing with contact management and contact tracing in the area.

“We are doing it full blast, and this is time time to do it,” he said. “We want to trace it so we can contain it and nip it in the bud.”

People with the virus are asked by public health officials where they were and what they were doing the day their symptoms appeared and in the 24-hours beforehand.

From there, each potential contact is assessed for risk and followed up with if necessary by the public health team.

For example, if the contagious person went to the hairdresser, that’s a long exposure with the potential to touch many of the same surfaces, and a follow-up would be necessary, Arra said.

If the same person went to the coffee shop and used a credit card to pay with minimal interaction, then it’s a low-risk scenario and wouldn’t warrant an immediate follow-up.

Any interactions with healthcare workers or long-term health employees are given the highest priority.

In one case Arra related, a person had symptoms at the airport and drove straight to their cottage and called public health before self-isolating.

“With that case, transmission to other people is negligible. It’s zero. We don’t need to contact anybody,” he said.

Arra said public announcements about the whereabouts of a person who contracted the virus is “not realistic” for COVID-19. He stressed people should already be limiting contact by physical distancing and limiting risk by practising proper hygiene – washing their hands and trying not to touch their face.

“We already have a provincial declaration of emergency,” Arra said. “By definition, we know the risk is being contained. If we go over above and say there was a case at this grocery store, and have you been there? By definition, it’s already included with the bigger order.”

The medical officer of health for Grey-Bruce said the public health team has fielded several calls from people anxious about seemingly non-essential businesses remaining open, and people just generally out and about.

On Monday he urged the public to continue to follow orders issued under the provincial and local states of emergency, but also wanted people to “be considerate of other aspects and not let anxiety and fear dictate our decisions.”

“We need to have a vision for six months, a year, and two years from now. Some of our local businesses, small businesses, family businesses, might bankrupt if they’re closed for three months, five months,” he said. “The balance of closing businesses for proper social distancing and the balance of letting the economy flow is a delicate subject.”

There were 351 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in Ontario Monday bringing the total to 1,709. It’s the largest single-day increase of confirmed cases in the province.

As of Monday afternoon, there were 7,288 confirmed and presumptive cases in Canada with 71 deaths.

“I believe what’s going to flatten the curve is nothing but what our mothers and grandmothers taught us: hand wash, cough in your sleeve, stay home if you’re sick,” Arra said.

Bruce County has extended the closure of all county buildings until further notice.

Bruce County previously announced on March 16 that buildings would be closed to the public until April 5.

The affected locations include the administration centre in Walkerton, all Bruce County public library branches and all Bruce County owned trails among other public facilities and offices.

“Health Canada has classified the COVID-19 virus as a high risk to Canadians,” Bruce County Warden Mitch Twolan said in a release Monday. “We are continuing to deliver services to the public while taking extra precautions to protect the health and well-being of all Bruce County clients, staff and the public.”

COVID-19 updates related to Bruce County, including an update on public service delivery in each department, can be found at

Owen Sound Police posted an update to entry and operational changes at the courthouse in Owen Sound Monday.

The notice instructed people to not enter the courthouse unless they’re there for urgent criminal or family proceedings, urgent or essential matters for the Criminal Intake Courts, or urgent filing of court documents (if unable to file by e-mail). Exceptions would be made for accredited members of the media.

Those with COVID-19 related symptoms, or who have travelled outside Canada within the last 14 days are asked to not enter the courthouse.

Additionally, the courthouse doors will be now monitored to ensure that people entering are there for essential or urgent reasons.

For the Ontario Court of Justice, courtroom attendance will be restricted to the judicial official, essential court staff, and those attending for urgent matters – with physical distancing measures enforced.

Court documents for urgent matters can now be filed by email.

“Obviously they don’t want people coming into court from outside from the general public unless it is an emergency,” Owen Sound Police Chief Craig Ambrose said. “They are trying to minimize the exposure for their staff. They are trying to get the message across that most everything is going to video or audio for court situations.”

Superior Court of Justice matters have been suspended until further notice, though that court continues to hear urgent matters, according to the bulletin.

More information is listed at

Hanover Mayor Sue Patterson officially declared a state of emergency Monday afternoon in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Town of Hanover continues to be proactive in our approach to COVID-19 to ensure that the impact of the situation does not affect necessary services for residents. It will provide a framework for redistribution of staff as well as access to decision-making power provided under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. The Town of Hanover is committed to ensuring the safety of both its residents and staff,” Patterson stated in a release.

South Bruce Peninsula closed its two municipal dog parks, in Oliphant and Wiarton, Monday.

“As of 4:30 p.m., anyone who is found using the dog parks, playgrounds or skatepark is committing an offence and can be charged with trespassing. At this time, we have not closed the remainder of our municipal parks as we will continue to monitor them for compliance. We truly hope we won’t have a need to close all parks but will do so if social distancing is not observed,” a release stated.

The City of Owen Sound closed its dog park on 1st Avenue East Monday as well.

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West Point preps for graduation, some in class test positive; Hydroxychloroquine does not prevent COVID, study shows; NBA to vote Thursday on 22-team plan to restart league – Toronto Star



The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Wednesday (this file will be updated throughout the day). Web links to longer stories if available.

4:40 p.m.: More than 15 members of West Point’s graduating class tested positive for the coronavirus upon their return to the the U.S. Military Academy, which is preparing to host President Donald Trump for an unusual graduation ceremony that has been criticized as too risky during a pandemic.

Trump’s announcement in April that he would give the commencement address at the historic academy was criticized as a political move. But Army officials said graduates needed to return before before beginning their careers as officers anyway, so the logistically daunting task of preparing for the June 13 ceremony is underway.

The roughly 1,100 class members preparing to graduate returned to campus over five days last week, with most of them driving and others flying commercially. Arrivals were immediately tested for the virus.

4 p.m.: Hydroxychloroquine is not effective in preventing the development of COVID-19 in people exposed to the novel coronavirus, a new study involving Canadian researchers concludes. The results are published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The clinical trial was led in Canada by Dr. Todd Lee and Dr. Emily McDonald of the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, in conjunction with partners at the University of Manitoba and University of Alberta. The Canadian research is co-ordinated with a large study by Dr. David Boulware at the University of Minnesota.

It is the first double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial to be completed assessing the effectiveness of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine in preventing COVID-19.

“We conducted an international, randomized controlled trial to look at whether the use of hydroxychloroquine in patients who’d had a high-risk exposure to COVID-19 would prevent the development of symptomatic disease compared to placebo,” Lee said in an interview.

Participants were recruited from Quebec, Manitoba, Alberta and across the United States. In total, the study involved 821 asymptomatic adults who had been exposed at home or in the health-care setting to someone with COVID-19.

Among them, 719 participants reported a high-risk exposure to a confirmed case of COVID-19 — being within two metres of the person for more than 10 minutes — without adequate personal protective equipment.

Most of these people were healthy young adults living in the community, with an average age of 40.

Within four days of exposure, participants received the placebo or hydroxychloroquine by mail, to be taken for a period of five days, beginning with a higher dose on the first day. Researchers and participants were not told which treatment was being administered.

Out of 821 participants, 107 developed COVID-19 — confirmed either by a test or by compatible symptoms — during the 14 days of followup.

Among those who received hydroxychloroquine, 49 developed the disease or symptoms like fever and cough, compared to 58 in the group who received the placebo, meaning that statistically, the drug was no more effective than the placebo.

Two patients were hospitalized, one from each group, but no one has died.

Hydroxychloroquine is still being studied around the world, including whether it could reduce the risk of infection during exposure or lower the risk of hospitalization in infected patients. U.S. President Donald Trump has said he is taking hydroxychloroquine even though he has not tested positive for the coronavirus.

2:45 p.m.: While classes in most of Quebec returned last month, B.C. is the first Canadian province to open all of its schools, although attendance is optional, and most of the kids who do attend will only do so part time.

And despite the presence of certain back-to-school hallmarks — crossing guards in place, kids grasping their parents’ hands before nervously joining peers they haven’t seen in months, teachers sipping coffee out of tumblers in the staff parking lot — B.C. kids arrived at school Monday under unprecedented circumstances.

Read the full story from the Star’s Alex McKeen.

2:36 p.m.: Premier Doug Ford says Ontario health officials are in discussions about the second stage of the province’s economic reopening plan, and he hopes to bring it forward over the next week.

Numbers of new cases have fluctuated in the two weeks since Ontario entered stage one, and the province has previously said it wants to see a consistent, two-to-four-week decline in new cases before reopening more.

Ford says even though Ontario extended its state of emergency Tuesday until June 30, it won’t slow down the reopening process.

When asked specifically if restaurants may be able to open patios in stage two, Ford said it’s one area he’s looking at, and health officials will make those decisions within the week.

2:07 p.m.: New Brunswick is reporting two more COVID-19 cases in an outbreak in the province’s northern region.

The Public Health Department says the two individuals are in the Campbellton region, one in their 40s and the other in their 60s.

The province says one case is a close contact of a previous case in the cluster, which has now grown to affect 15 people.

The other case is linked to the Manoir de la Vallee, a long-term care facility in Atholville linked to eight COVID-19 cases, including a worker who tested positive last week.

The department says a Quebec resident connected to Manoir de la Vallee has also tested positive for COVID-19, but their case will be counted in Quebec’s statistics.

New Brunswick has recorded a total of 135 cases of COVID-19, with 120 recovered and five patients currently in hospital — including one in intensive care.

1:15 p.m.: Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says his government might make some COVID-19 aid programs available to more people.

Pallister says $29 million has been paid out so far from a planned $120-million forgivable loan program for small- and medium-sized businesses hurt by the pandemic.

Pallister says he will consider expanding the program if uptake remains low. Pallister is also leaving the door open to expanding a one-time payment announced this week for low-income, front-line workers.

He says any decisions will be made once the province has an idea on how many businesses and people have applied by the deadline for each program.

Pallister has also announced $33 million in new infrastructure work, including improvements to highways that serve as an alternative route to the main road between Winnipeg and the United States border during flood season.

1:02 p.m.: Health officials in Saskatchewan are revising rules for family visits during the COVID-19 pandemic to long-term care homes and to patients in hospital intensive care.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority says quality of life will be taken into account for visits to long-term care residents.

It says if a resident’s needs can’t be met without the help of family, two designated relatives or support people will be allowed to visit, but only one at a time.

The health authority says intensive or critical care patients in hospitals — as well as those in palliative care — will be allowed visits by two family members.

The province has also revised guidelines to ensure it’s clear that a relative or support person can be with someone having difficulty getting emergency or in-patient care due to a mental-health disability, physical impairment or communication issue.

Health officials clamped down on visits to long-term care homes and hospitals as the pandemic gained ground earlier this spring.

Saskatchewan is reporting a total of 646 COVID-19 cases, with 33 of them considered to be active.

1 p.m. (updated): Ontario investing $150 million to improve rural broadband internet service. Education Minister Stephen Lecce says improved internet access for schools is key “for all eventualities for the fall.”

12:55 p.m.: Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting no new cases of COVID-19, and officials say just one person is in hospital with the virus.

The province has reported 261 cases of COVID-19, including 256 recoveries and three deaths.

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald says the province has done well to keep cases to a minimum.

She says the low numbers mean the province is set to move to the next level of its reopening plan on Monday, allowing more activities to resume.

Under “alert level three,” funerals, burials and weddings can include up to 20 people.

Some businesses can reopen including private health-care clinics, personal services such as spas and hair salons, and retail stores with restrictions.

12:18 p.m.: Quebec is reporting 81 new deaths attributed to COVID-19, for a total of 4,794.

The government said today that 59 of those deaths occurred in the past 24 hours, while the remaining 22 deaths occurred before May 27.

Quebec public health authorities have stated that it sometimes takes several days for deaths to be attributed to the novel coronavirus and entered into the official count.

The number of new daily recorded cases of the virus continues to drop, however, with the province confirming 291 cases over the past 24 hours, for a total of 51,884.

This is the third straight day Quebec has recorded fewer than 300 new COVID-19 cases, something that hasn’t happened since mid-March.

The number of hospitalizations dropped again today, by 34, leaving a total of 1,141 patients in hospital.

12 p.m.: Ontario’s regional health units are reporting another 349 new COVID-19 cases, according to the Star’s latest count.

As of 11 a.m. Wednesday the health units had reported a total of 30,481 confirmed and probable cases, including 2,358 deaths.

The jump of 349 new cases since the same time Tuesday followed two consecutive days with more than 400 cases — a spike that was in part the result of a large outbreak at an agricultural facility in Norfolk County, southwest of Hamilton.

At least 164 workers tested positive at Scotlynn Group in Vittoria, Ont., with at least seven migrant workers in hospital, including three in intensive care.

Before that outbreak and another cluster of farm cases in St. Catharines, the rate of new infections outside the GTA had slowed to a relative trickle.

According to a provincial database of cases, more than three-quarters of the 3,924 Ontarians with an active case of COVID-19 reside in the GTA, with nearly 85 per cent of those in living in Toronto or Peel Region.

Meanwhile, the 20 fatal cases reported in the province since Tuesday morning was in line with a recent falling trend. The rate of deaths is down considerably since peaking at more than 90 deaths in a day earlier this month, about two weeks after the daily case totals hit a first peak in mid-April.

Earlier Wednesday, the province once reported that testing labs had passed a target of 16,000 completed tests daily, completing 17,537 tests, up more than 2,000 from the previous day.

The province says the labs have the capacity to complete about 20,000 tests daily. Premier Doug Ford, who has called for widespread testing as a key part of Ontario’s response to the pandemic, faced criticism last month after the labs reported daily totals far below target for 10 straight days.

The province also reported 791 patients are now hospitalized with COVID-19, including 127 in intensive care, of whom 92 are on a ventilator — numbers that fall sharply last month. The province also says nearly 23,000 patients who have tested positive for the coronavirus have now recovered from the disease — more than three-quarters of the total infected.

The province says its data is accurate to 4 p.m. the previous day. The province also cautions its latest count of total deaths — 2,312 — may be incomplete or out of date due to delays in the reporting system, saying that in the event of a discrepancy, “data reported by (the health units) should be considered the most up to date.”

The Star’s count includes some patients reported as “probable” COVID-19 cases, meaning they have symptoms and contacts or travel history that indicate they very likely have the disease, but have not yet received a positive lab test.

11:47 a.m.: A person with knowledge of the situation says the NBA has told the National Basketball Players Association that it will present a 22-team plan for restarting the season to the league’s board of governors on Thursday.

All 22 of the teams coming to the ESPN Wide World Of Sports complex on the Disney campus near Orlando, Fla., would play eight games to determine playoff seeding before the post-season begins, according to the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity on Wednesday because the league has not released its proposal publicly.

The Western Conference would have 13 teams going to Disney, and the Eastern Conference would have nine. In the West, Memphis, Portland, New Orleans, Sacramento, San Antonio and Phoenix would still have a mathematical chance of earning a spot in a play-in series. In the East, Washington would have to close to within four games of Orlando or Brooklyn to trigger a play-in series on that side of the bracket.

The Raptors were in second place in the Eastern Conference, three games ahead of the third-place Boston Celtics when the NBA suspended its season on March 11 “until further notice” after Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz became the first player in the league to test positive for the coronavirus.

Read the full story from the Star’s Doug Smith.

11:31 a.m.: Family members say a Calgary couple stranded in India because of the COVID-19 pandemic were killed last weekend.

Kirpal Minhas, who was 67, and his wife Davinder, who was 65, were supposed to return the first week of April but their flight was cancelled.

Loved ones say the permanent residents were days from catching another flight to Canada when they were attacked in their home in the Punjab region Saturday.

The couple’s son-in-law says local authorities told him three people overpowered the husband and stabbed him to death and that the wife was strangled.

Family say police have told them the caretaker of the home was arrested along with two other men, and that the motive was to get the couple’s money.

Global Affairs says it’s aware of the deaths, but cannot disclose any further information for privacy reasons.

10:53 a.m.: Ontario reports that it completed 17,537 tests in the previous day, more than the 16,000 the province has pledged — but often failed — to do since the beginning of May, but still short of the government’s goal of 20,000 a day.

10:10 a.m.: The Bank of Canada is keeping its key interest rate target on hold. The central bank says its target for the overnight rate will remain at 0.25 per cent.

It says the impact of the pandemic on the global economy appears to have peaked, although uncertainty about how the recovery will unfold remains high.

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10 a.m.: A gap in insurance coverage for community tennis clubs has many such volunteer-run organizations keeping their doors shut nearly three weeks after getting the green light to reopen from the provincial government — and some questioning the viability of their season at all.

With tennis among the sports at the forefront of the return-to-play movement in Ontario, experts warn other volunteer-run sports organization could be facing a similar threat, personal liability for club officials, should a person contract COVID-19 while playing at or for their organization.

Read the full story from the Star’s Laura Armstrong.

9 a.m.: Toronto-area home prices are proving surprisingly sticky, rising three per cent year over year in May as sellers waiting out the COVID-19 crisis keep the number of new listings tight.

Resale home listings dropped 53.1 per cent annually last month, almost in lock-step with a 54 per cent reduction in sales in May, according to the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board on Wednesday. It called the result a “marked improvement” over April, when sales plummeted 67.1 per cent year over year.

Read the full story from the Star’s Tess Kalinowski.

7:51 a.m. The Bank of Canada is expected to keep its key interest rate unchanged this morning on the first day of governor Tiff Macklem’s tenure.

Economists expect the central bank will maintain its target for the overnight rate at 0.25 per cent, which former governor Stephen Poloz has repeatedly said is as low as it can go.

Poloz and the bank’s governing council would have met over the past few days and finalized the rate decision Tuesday night.

7:39 a.m. The United Nations warned Wednesday that its programs to fight the coronavirus in war-torn Yemen might have to stop by the end the month unless they get an immediate injection of cash.

The warning comes a day after a UN appeal for countries to fund emergency aid in the Arab world’s poorest nation fell a billion dollars short of what aid agencies needed — $2.41 billion — to cover essential activities from June to December.

At least 31 major U.N. programs in Yemen, covering essentially every sector, from food to health care and nutrition, were at a “serious risk of significant reduction or closure,” she said.

The coronavirus is threatening to decimate Yemen’s health care system, already ravaged by more than five years of civil war.

7 a.m.: Poland will hold its presidential election on June 28 after postponing a contested May ballot due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The announcement comes as support for the candidate of the ruling Law & Justice party, incumbent Andrzej Duda, has been declining as the country struggles with the fallout of the virus outbreak and subsequent lockdown.

Over the past five years, the party consolidated its grip on power, battled the European Union over democratic values while shunning the bloc’s multicultural stance on issues such as gay rights. If Duda loses, the Poland-First makeover would be in jeopardy as the party doesn’t have enough seats in parliament to override a presidential veto.

“The campaign will be short, intense and brutal,” said Marek Migalski, a political scientist who had worked with both political camps. “It will be three weeks of living in a haze of information.”

6 a.m.: The British government is confirming plans to impose a 14-day quarantine for people arriving in the country starting next week, despite pleas from the travel industry to drop the idea.

Airlines and tour companies say the quarantine will derail plans to rebuild business. It comes as other European countries reopen their borders and ease travel restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic.

Others say the measure comes too late. Britain’s official COVID-19 death toll stands at more than 39,000, the highest in Europe. Officials say the quarantine will help prevent a second wave of infections, though most of Britain’s European neighbours currently have lower infection rates.

Starting Monday, travellers and returning Britons coming from all countries except Ireland, which has a long-standing free-movement agreement with the U.K., will be asked to self-isolate for two weeks.

Breaches can be punished with a fine, or by prosecution and an unlimited fine. But it’s unclear how the quarantine will be enforced. The U.K. government has said only that people “could” be contacted to ensure they are complying.

5:18 a.m.: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will continue Wednesday to make the case for a co-ordinated global response to cushion the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the world’s poorest countries.

He’ll be among the leaders and heads of state to deliver remarks during a virtual summit of the Organization of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States (OACPS).

Among other things, he is expected to promise that Canada will partner with developing countries, which stand to be the hardest hit by the pandemic, and help to rally the world behind measures like debt relief to help them survive the crisis.

Without a global co-ordinated recovery plan, the UN estimates the pandemic could slash nearly $8.5 trillion (U.S.) from the world economy over the next two years, forcing 34.3 million people into extreme poverty this year and potentially 130 million more over the course of the decade.

5:17 a.m.: The Department of National Defence is being accused of trying to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to withhold information from Parliament and Canadians.

There has been widespread concern over various federal departments failing to respond to access-to-information requests but the Opposition Conservatives say the problem is much worse at the Defence Department.

Conservative defence critic James Bezan points to the department’s failure to respond to a large number of questions on the order paper in recent months, which it blamed on the pandemic.

Bezan says that stands in contrast to other departments having continued to answer order paper questions, a key way MPs get details about the inner workings of federal departments.

Parliamentary budget officer Yves Giroux also reported last week that the Defence Department blamed COVID-19 for its failure to respond to his request for an update on the government’s plan to spend tens of billions of dollars on new military gear in the coming years.

The Defence Department says it is committed to transparency and has responded to a dozen order paper questions since April, but the pandemic has limited access to certain records and databases and forced it to allocate key staff to other tasks.

5:14 a.m. The Chinese city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus was first detected late last year, has tested nearly 10 million people in an unprecedented 19-day campaign to check an entire city.

It identified just 300 positive cases, all of whom had no symptoms. The city found no infections among 1,174 close contacts of the people who tested positive, suggesting they were not spreading it easily to others.

That is a potentially encouraging development because of widespread concern that infected people without symptoms could be silent spreaders of the disease.

5:13 a.m.: The federal government must do more to help provinces prepare long-term care homes for the next wave of COVID-19, the Ontario Long Term Care Association says.

Association CEO Donna Duncan is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to quickly negotiate an agreement with provincial governments to deliver funds to help long-term care systems ramp up preparations as soon as possible.

“We need to act fast,” she said, noting many experts think the second-wave of novel coronavirus infections will hit no later than September.

She is looking for an agreement along the lines of the 2017 deals signed between Ottawa and provincial governments to flow money for mental health and home care. Those agreements — more than $11 billion over a decade — required provinces to produce plans for how the funds would be allocated.

5 a.m.: South Korea on Wednesday reported 49 new cases of COVID-19, continuing a weeks-long resurgence of the virus as the government defended its decision to reopen schools despite health risks.

The figures announced by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on brought national totals to 11,590 cases and 273 deaths. All but one of the new cases were reported from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, where hundreds of infections have been linked to entertainment venues, church gatherings and a massive e-commerce warehouse.

Mayors and governors in the greater capital area have shut thousands of nightclubs, hostess bars, karaoke rooms, churches and wedding halls to slow the spread of the virus.

Some entertainment venues in Seoul, Incheon and Daejeon began collecting the personal details of their customers through smartphone QR codes this week so they could be located easily when needed, a requirement that will be expanded nationwide on June 10.

Despite the spike in transmissions, the government has been pushing ahead with a phased reopening of schools, which began with high-school seniors on May 20.

Tuesday 8 p.m.: About one third of students returned to classrooms in British Columbia Monday and Education Minister Rob Fleming said he expects those numbers to rise.

In countries like New Zealand and Denmark, more families sent their kids back to classrooms after hearing it was safe. The B.C. government is anticipating a similar pattern, he said during a news conference at a Victoria-area middle school on Tuesday.

Schools opened Monday on a part-time and optional basis for students in kindergarten through Grade 12, while online learning also continues for the final four weeks of the year.

The partial return will allow staff to prepare for a fresh term in the fall, and they will spend summer fine tuning how it will work, Fleming said.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said during her briefing Tuesday that officials can’t predict what will happen between now and September, so they also can’t say what the next school year will look like.

4:30 p.m.: A New Brunswick doctor blamed by many, including the premier, for spreading COVID-19 in a growing cluster of new cases told Radio-Canada on Tuesday he’s not sure how he picked up the virus.

Dr. Jean Robert Ngola said he recently travelled from Campbellton, N.B., to Quebec to pick up his 4-year-old daughter because the girl’s mother had to attend a funeral in Africa.

Ngola admitted that upon his return from the overnight trip, he did not self-isolate for 14 days, but added he does not know if he caught the coronavirus on his travels or from a patient.

“Perhaps it was an error in judgment, but I did not go to Quebec to go to take the virus and come to give it to my patients,” Ngola told morning show La Matinale.

There are 13 active COVID-19 cases in the province that had just weeks ago seen all of its coronavirus cases recovered.

All of New Brunswick’s active cases are in the health region known as Zone 5, and all have been linked to a cluster in the Campbellton area.

Officials, including Premier Blaine Higgs, have said the cluster began when a health-care worker travelled to Quebec and returned to work at Campbellton Regional Hospital without self-isolating.

3 p.m.: The federal government has inked a contract for 37 million syringes — roughly enough for the entire Canadian population — as it prepares for “mass vaccinations” against COVID-19.

Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said Tuesday that the contract was signed with the Canadian branch of Becton Dickinson, a global medical tech giant.

Read the full story from the Star’s Alex Ballingall.

Read Tuesday’s rolling file.

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New Brunswick doctor says he does not know where he picked up COVID-19 – OHS Canada



FREDERICTON — A New Brunswick doctor blamed by many, including the premier, for spreading COVID-19 in a growing cluster of new cases told Radio-Canada on Tuesday that he’s not sure how he picked up the virus.

Dr. Jean Robert Ngola said he recently travelled from Campbellton, N.B., to Quebec to pick up his four-year-old daughter because the girl’s mother had to attend a funeral in Africa.

Ngola admitted that upon his return from the overnight trip, he did not self-isolate for 14 days, but added he does not know if he caught the coronavirus on his travels or from a patient.

“Perhaps it was an error in judgment, but I did not go to Quebec to go to take the virus and come to give it to my patients,” Ngola told morning show La Matinale.

There are 13 active COVID-19 cases in the province that had just weeks ago seen all of its coronavirus cases recovered.

On Tuesday, the Public Health Department reported another COVID-19 case in an outbreak at Manoir de la Vallee, a care home in Altholville in the northern part of the province.

All of New Brunswick’s active cases are in the health region known as Zone 5, and all have been linked to a cluster in the Campbellton area.

Officials, including Premier Blaine Higgs, have said the cluster began when a health-care worker travelled to Quebec and returned to work at Campbellton Regional Hospital without self-isolating.

But Ngola told La Matinale that his COVID-19 diagnosis threw him, and he’s not sure how he was exposed. His daughter tested positive as well and both have been in quarantine since, but neither have had any symptoms.

Doctor has faced racist attacks

The doctor, who is of Congolese descent, said he has been the victim of racist attacks online since public attention was directed to his case. His name and photo were shared on social media with racist comments describing him as “the bad doctor who went to get the virus to kill people here.”

Ngola told the radio program he took precautions when travelling and did not stop en route.

He continued working upon his return to Campbellton and left his daughter in the care of an essential service workers’ daycare centre.

On May 25, he was told that one of his patients had tested positive for COVID-19. He called the man, whom he’d seen May 19 for a prescription renewal, and stopped working right away.

Ngola said as a patient, he also has the right to confidentiality.

The Campbellton COVID-19 cluster has led to increased testing in the region, where the Vitalite health authority offered tests to anyone who asked from Friday through Sunday.

More than 3,300 were completed over the weekend and Zone 5 has moved back a step in the province’s reopening plan.

A Tuesday news release from the province’s Public Health Department said the newest positive case is a person their 80s linked to Manoir de la Vallee, where a worker tested positive last week.

Five residents have now tested positive for the virus and the regional director for Lokia Group, the company that owns the home, said Monday that two had been hospitalized.

The province said Tuesday that five people are in the hospital due to COVID-19, including one person in intensive care.

Chief doctor pleads for patience

Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health, said in a statement that New Brunswickers should be patient as the province monitors the outbreak.

“We have 14 days ahead of us to see how things unfold,” Russell’s statement read. “In the meantime, I ask New Brunswickers to continue to demonstrate their compassion, kindness and patience throughout the province.”

At a news conference last week, Premier Blaine Higgs did not refer to Dr. Ngola by name, but criticized him as “irresponsible” and said the matter had been referred to the RCMP, potentially leading to charges for violating public health orders.

Days later, Higgs walked back his remarks slightly and appeared to acknowledge the outrage, telling people to leave investigation into any wrongdoing up to law enforcement and the person’s employer.

“I know people are upset, but we don’t want anyone taking matters into their own hands,” he said.

Campbellton Mayor Stephanie Anglehart-Paulin told The Canadian Press on Saturday that she was embarrassed by many of the comments on social media directed at the doctor, which she described as “pretty hateful and nasty.”

By Holly McKenzie-Sutter in St. John’s, N.L., with files from Sidhartha Banerjee in Montreal

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Hydroxychloroquine fails to prevent COVID-19 in those at high risk, trial shows –



The drug hydroxychloroquine, which has been the subject of heated debate as a potential treatment for COVID-19, was not effective in preventing the disease in Canadians and Americans at high risk, according to the first gold standard clinical trial.

In Wednesday’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, medical researchers reported on testing the use of hydroxychloroquine in 821 adults throughout the U.S. and in Quebec, Manitoba and Alberta. The participants did not have symptoms but were exposed to someone with confirmed COVI9-19 in a health-care or household setting.

Hydroxychloroquine is often used to treat autoimmune diseases such as lupus. U.S. President Donald Trump said he’s taken hydroxychloroquine, although he’s not tested positive for the coronavirus infection. No studies have proven this drug or any others are effective against COVID-19.

The exposures were all considered high risk, because the participants were less than two meters away from a confirmed case for more than 10 minutes without wearing a mask or face shield. The goal of the randomized trial was to see if hydroxychloroquine could prevent symptoms of infection, known as postexposure prophylaxis, compared with taking a sugar pill.

“In this trial, high doses of hydroxychloroquine did not prevent illness compatible with COVID-19 when initiated within four days after a high-risk or moderate-risk exposure,” the study’s authors wrote.

Gold standard method

Dr. Emily McDonald, a physician at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, co-authored the randomized control trial in which half of participants were randomly assigned to the drug and half to the placebo without investigators knowing to avoid bias in interpreting any symptoms or their resolution.

McDonald called it the gold standard method to have the best evidence to support how to prevent spread of COVID-19.

“When we politicize the drug and we stop studies early for reasons that are perhaps not entirely valid, we risk never answering the question properly because the enrolment for the studies drops off,” McDonald said.

“There are also hundreds of patients that have contributed their data to randomized trials because they also felt a responsibility to help the scientific community answer this question.”

Overall, 107 of 821 of participants developed COVID-19 based on a swab or compatible symptoms during 14 days of followup.

No deaths occurred

Of those who received hydroxychloroquine, investigators said 49 developed the disease compared with 58 in the placebo group, a difference that could simply be random.

Two patients were hospitalized, one in each group. No deaths occurred.

Medication side-effects such as nausea and abdominal discomfort were more common for patients taking hydroxychloroquine compared to placebo (40 per cent versus 17 per cent), but no serious treatment-related adverse reactions were reported, including any heart arrhythmia.

Earlier on Wednesday, the World Health Organization announced it was resuming the hydroxychloroquine arm of its Solidarity trial into potential treatments for COVID-19 following a pause to check for any potential safety concerns such as heart problems.

The Solidarity trial includes participants and researchers in Canada. 

Previous studies of hydroxychloroquine were observational in design, which greatly increases the potential for bias when managing patients compared with a well conducted, randomized clinical trial.

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