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N.B. COVID-19 roundup: Some classes go online, testing sites boosted as five new cases reported – CBC.ca

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Dr. Jennifer Russell, the chief medical officer of health, directly addressed the youth of New Brunswick at Tuesday’s news conference, urging them to do what they can do to reverse the trend of COVID-19.

“New Brunswickers under the age of 30 are contracting COVID-19 in growing numbers and passing it to others,” Russell said. “Children, teens and young adults are not immune to this disease,” and can pass it on to others who are more vulnerable.

Russell urged them to wear a mask in public, maintain physical distancing. “You can help return all zones to the yellow phase,” she said. 

Russell also announced five new cases on Tuesday, although Public Health originally reported six.

Three of the new cases are in the Saint John region (Zone 2), and include:

  • two people 19 and under; and
  • one individual 30 to 39.

Two cases are in the Moncton region (Zone 1), both cases are individuals age 20 to 29.

There are now 93 active cases in the province, with no one in hospital with the disease.

“There will be more cases,” Russell warned. “A record number of people across the province self-isolating … and the risk that our hospitals will be overwhelmed is high.”

Education Minister Dominic Cardy said classes at four schools in the Saint John and Moncton region will go online for two weeks next week. (File photo submitted by New Brunswick government)

Education Minister Dominic Cardy also spoke at the briefing.

Cardy said there are now seven schools in the Saint John and Fredericton regions that have been impacted and he understands parents are concerned, “but we have reason to be optimistic.” 

He said the province has learned from the earlier outbreak in the Campbellton region. 

“In the summer I was clear,” he said. “I said there would be more cases, and more deaths. This is not a surprise.”

He said officials took the summer to develop a plan, and thanks to the work of contact tracers across the province, and residents, New Brunswick was able to push COVID-19 back.

But Cardy noted a handful of classes in Zone 2 and 3 will be learning from home “in the coming week or two,” including Hampton Middle School and Lakefield Elementary School in Zone 2, and Centreville school and Montgomery school in Zone 3.

There will be remote IT services to assist parents if there are technical issues, said Cardy, who provided this number: 1-833-453-1140. 

Lakefield Elementary School in Quispamsis has confirmed its first case of COVID-19. (Candace Patterson)

Quispamsis school reports case of COVID-19

An elementary school in the Quispamsis area is the latest New Brunswick school to report a case of COVID-19.  

An email was sent out to parents at Lakefield Elementary School on Monday.

This brings the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases at New Brunswick schools to six since last week, and 11 since the school year began.

The email to Lakefield parents says the kindergarten to Grade 5 school is working with Public Health to identify students and school personnel who might have come into contact with the coronavirus.

“Public health officials will contact you if your child has been in close contact with the confirmed case and will tell you if your child needs to self-isolate,” the email said. 

“If you are not contacted by Public Health officials, your child can continue to attend school.”

LISTEN | Education Minister Dominic Cardy talks about how he’s prepared to switch system to online learning at a moment’s notice

Information Morning – Fredericton14:42Covid-19 exposures in schools

Education Minister Dominic Cardy joined us to talk about going to school in the orange phase, and the COVID-19 cases and exposures in our schools. 14:42

The email went on to say that further details will not be released, in order to protect the confidentiality of students and employees.

Education Minister Dominic Cardy said Monday that schools will move to online learning right away if there are any risks to students or if the number of cases increases. 

How much is too much information in a pandemic?

There’s a fine balance between saying too much and not enough during a public health crisis, an associate professor of public policy at the University of British Columbia says.

“Feeling the information is consistent and trustworthy will really help with compliance, so it’s completely crucial,” said Heidi Tworek, who is also the co-author of Democratic Health Communications during COVID-19: A Rapid Response, which has been featured in the New York Times, Financial Times, CNN and elsewhere.

Tworek spoke to Information Morning Fredericton on Tuesday. 

When a crisis emerges, she said people tend to have a lot of anxiety and want as much information as possible.

“At the same time, we have to recognize there is a limit to information authorities may be able reveal,” she said.

New Brunswick Public Health has been cautious about how much information it makes available to the public, withholding all details except the health zones where cases have turned up, the ages of the people who tested positive, and whether their cases are travel-related or under investigation.

Although some of her counterparts have used data to show how the disease has spread through a particular area, Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health, has said she will share only what she’s decided the public needs to hear.

Heidi Tworek, an assistant professor in international history and public policy at University of British Columbia, says governments and public health agencies have to be more effective at communicating to the public because disinformation will spread faster than facts. (Glen Kugelstadt/CBC)

There are seven zones in New Brunswick. 

However, Zone 3, the Fredericton and River Valley area and the largest zone in the province, contains more than 20 communities.

Tworek said that if New Brunswick Public Health got too specific about where cases are, people in other areas might let their guards down, causing the virus to spread.

“We need to figure out the balance how specific to get … while at the same time trying not to reveal so much, for example, we’re stigmatizing certain people,” she said, citing what happened during the early years of AIDS and HIV which caused some stigmatization around gay people.  

Russell has also avoided answering questions on other issues related to COVID-19 during the COVID news conferences that have happened on and off since the outbreak started in March.

But there isn’t a magic formula, Tworek said.

She said countries around the world have taken different approaches to releasing public health information, partly because they have different laws about privacy, she said. 

Some countries are also more transparent. When the respiratory virus first broke out, authorities in Taiwan made a point of being transparent with the public, telling the public it didn’t have enough masks to go around and those that were available were needed for health-care workers. 

Vehicles lined up to get back into New Brunswick from Prince Edward Island when the Atlantic bubble was still intact this past summer. (Elizabeth Fraser/CBC News)

However, countries like Canada have different degrees of disclosure depending on where a person lives. And some members of the public might have more trust in public health authorities than others. 

She said the most important objective is for public health officials to build trust with the people they’re communicating with. And they can do this by explaining how and why they’re making certain decisions.

“It’s a very tricky balance.” 

Saint John mayor asks public to stay calm

Saint John Mayor Don Darling says he’s never been happier to have the flu.

Darling received a negative COVID test result Monday. But it’s been a roller-coaster experience.

“I am following the rules.,” he told Information Morning Saint John on Tuesday. “I’m masked and I’ve never washed my hands more in my life. 

“There’s a fear, there’s a shame. I didn’t know if folks were going to show up with tiki torches outside my home.”

He has been self-isolating since Friday after experiencing several COVID symptoms, including aches, trouble breathing, a cough and fever. 

The Saint John region was recently sent back to the orange phase because of the recent spike in cases.

There are currently 43 active COVID cases in the Saint John region

Darling is reminding residents to stay patient and calm. 

“We’ve seen it in our community, folks speculating and hunting down those that have COVID,” he said. “Those that have COVID are human beings.”

The hospitality industry has been “barely hanging on,” throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the vice- president of Restaurants Canada in Atlantic Canada says. 

Bars, restaurants should be shut down, Saint John bartender says 

A Saint John bartender says the government should temporarily shut down bars and restaurants in order to control the local COVID-19 outbreak.

Liv Wagg, 26, has been off work and self-isolating since last Thursday, after a possible COVID exposure notice at her workplace.

It’s been a stressful week, said Wagg, and every bartender she knows is on edge.

Wagg said she normally enjoys going to work and she thinks it’s nice for people to be able to socialize in bars, but she doesn’t agree bars should be open right now.

“I don’t think they should be,” she said. “I think we should be seeing a little bit more leadership from the government.”

Wagg said bar owners are taking precautions and following the rules, but a closure order would be a more clearcut way to reduce the spread. 

Bar and restaurant staff have felt “weird” about working since the mandatory mask order came into effect, she said.

That’s partly because it’s hard to get patrons to follow the rules, said Wagg.

Customers often absent-mindedly pull down their masks to talk to her. And she has to remind them to put them back on.

“People forget and they’re like, ‘Oh, I can’t talk with this thing in my mouth.'”

Premier Blaine Higgs announced Monday that New Brunswick will not be making changes to the Atlantic bubble, despite Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador temporarily pulling out. 1:45

It happens so often, she said, it’s “almost comical,” except for the threat it currently presents to public health.

It puts bartenders in a difficult position, said Wagg, to expect them to catch and confront people who put fake names down for contract tracing or come in with people who are not members of their bubble, as the premier said during Monday’s news conference.

“I feel like it’s going to be really, really difficult to execute,” said Wagg.

When the bar is busy, she said, there isn’t time to double check names.

Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health, says there hasn’t been evidence of community spread in the province, but there are still 13 active COVID-19 cases under investigation. 1:22

And often young bar patrons will have IDs that show their parents’ address, not their student accommodations. 

Wagg would also like to see the government make COVID testing more available to bar and restaurant staff. Nova Scotia has just done that. And it’s been recommended by epidemiologist Colin Furness based on what’s been learned from the way the disease has spread in Ontario. Chief medical officer Dr. Jennifer Russell said Monday that she’d consider it.

“I think that’s a really good idea,” Wagg said. “Anyone working in customer service really should be able to have more access to testing right now.”

Wagg said she hasn’t even tried to get a COVID test because she’s heard from other bar staff that she won’t get one because she doesn’t have symptoms.

89 active cases of COVID-19

Both Newfoundland and Labrador and P.E.I. announced Monday that they were leaving the Atlantic bubble for at least two weeks as COVID-19 cases rise in parts of the region.

New Brunswick isn’t following suit, although Premier Blaine Higgs is asking people to be cautious about travel outside the province.

New Brunswick Public Health reported 15 new cases on Monday, and one death, a person in their 80s in the Saint John region.

Eleven of the new cases are in the Saint John region (Zone 2), three are in the Moncton region (Zone 1) and one in the Fredericton region (Zone 3), Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health, said at Monday’s news conference.

All 15 of the new cases have been “identified and are isolating,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health at a news briefing Monday. 

As of Monday, the province had a total of 89 active cases.

Seven people in New Brunswick have died of the disease since the pandemic started.

Moncton and Saint John have both been pushed back to the orange phase of recovery, while the rest of the province has stayed at the less restrictive yellow phase.

Potential public exposure warnings for Saint John, Moncton

New Brunswick Public Health has released the following possible exposure to COVID-19 warnings for locations in Moncton and Saint John, including gyms, stores, bars, restaurants and on flights.

Anyone who visited the following businesses during the identified times should self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days.

Anyone who develops any COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate and take the self-assessment online to schedule a test.

Saint John area

  • Rothesay Route 1 Big Stop Restaurant on Nov. 14 between 12:45 p.m. and 2 p.m. (2870 Route 1, Rothesay).
     
  • Pub Down Under on Nov. 14, between 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. (400 Main St., Saint John)
     
  • Fish & Brew on Nov. 14 between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. (800 Fairville Blvd., Saint John)
     
  • Cora Breakfast and Lunch on Nov. 16 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. (39 King St., Saint John).
     
  • Goodlife Fitness McAllister Place on Nov. 16 between noon and 1 p.m. and on Nov. 18 between 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. (519 Westmorland Rd., Saint John).
     
  • NBCC Grandview campus on Nov. 16, 17, and 18 between 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. (950 Grandview Ave., Saint John).
     
  • Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio on Nov. 19 between 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. (47 Clark Rd., Rothesay)
  • Let’s Hummus at 44 Water St. between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m.

  • Eighty-Three Bar Arcade at 43 Princess St. on Nov. 14 between midnight and 2 a.m.

  • Callie’s Pub at 2 Princess St. on Nov. 14 between midnight and 2 a.m.

  • O’Leary’s Pub at 46 Princess St. on Nov. 14 between midnight and 2 a.m.

  • Five and Dime Bar at 34 Grannan St. on Nov. 14, between 12:30 to 2:30 a.m

  • Freddie’s Pizza at 27 Charlotte St. on Nov. 14, between 2:30 to 3 a.m.

  • Big Tide Brewing Company at 47 Princess St. on Nov. 16, between 12:30 to 2 p.m.

  • Java Moose at 84 Prince William St. Nov. 16, between 2 to 2:30 p.m.

  • Rocky’s Sports Bar at 7 Market Square on Nov. 13, between 10:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Potential public exposure was also reported on Nov. 14 between 10:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m.

Moncton 

  • RD Maclean Co. Ltd. on Nov. 16, 17 and 18 at 200 St. George St., between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.  
  • GoodLife Fitness on Nov. 21 at 555 Dieppe Blvd, Dieppe, between 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.  
  • Fit 4 Less at 165 Main St. on Nov. 6-12, at various times between 5 p.m. and midnight. Full list on Public Health website. 

  • GoodLife Fitness at Moncton Junction Village Gym on Nov. 6, between 8 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Potential public exposure was also reported on Nov. 9, between 8:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.

  • Aldo Shoes at Moncton Champlain Mall on Nov. 6-10 at various times between 9:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.
  • CEPS Louis-J. Robichaud fitness room at 40 Antonine-Maillet Ave. on Nov. 6, 9, 10 and 12 at various times in the evening from 5:15 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

  • Tandoori Zaika Cuisine and Bar at 196 Robinson St. on Nov. 8, between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m.

  • Keg Steakhouse and Bar at 576 Main St. on Nov. 17, between 7:45 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

  • Flights into Moncton:

  • Air Canada Flight 8954 on Nov. 15 from Winnipeg to Toronto, arrived at 8:16 p.m.

  • Air Canada Flight 8918 on Nov. 15 from Toronto to Moncton, arrived at 11:43 p.m.

  • Air Canada Flight 0992 on Nov. 7 from Mexico City to Toronto, arrived at 7:20 p.m.

  • Air Canada Flight 8918 on Nov. 7 from Toronto to Moncton, arrived at 11:43 p.m.

What to do if you have a symptom

People concerned they might have COVID-19 symptoms can take a self-assessment test online

Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included:

  • A fever above 38 C.

  • A new cough or worsening chronic cough.

  • Sore throat.

  • Runny nose.

  • Headache.

  • New onset of fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell.

  • Difficulty breathing.

In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes.

People with one of those symptoms should:

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Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on January 23, 2021 – Canada NewsWire

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OTTAWA, ON, Jan. 23, 2021 /CNW/ – As the resurgence of COVID-19 activity continues in Canada, we are tracking a range of epidemiological indicators to monitor where the disease is most active, where it is spreading and how it is impacting the health of Canadians and public health, laboratory and healthcare capacity. The following is the latest summary on national numbers and trends, and the actions we all need to be taking to maintain COVID-19 at manageable levels across the country.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 737,407 cases of COVID-19, including 18,828 deaths reported in Canada; these cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date. Though many areas continue to experience high infection rates, it is important to remember that the vast majority of Canadians remain susceptible to COVID-19. This is why it is important for everyone to continue with individual precautions to protect ourselves, our families and our communities. 

At this time, there are 65,750 active cases across the country. The latest national-level data indicate a recent downward trend in daily case counts (past 10 days), with a 7-day average of 6,079 new cases daily (Jan 15-21). While this suggests that community-based measures may be starting to take effect, it is too soon to be sure that current measures are strong enough and broad enough to maintain a steady downward trend. With still elevated daily case counts and high rates of infection across all age groups, the risk remains that this trend could reverse. Likewise, outbreaks continue to occur in high-risk populations and communities, including hospitals and long term care homes, correctional facilities, congregate living settings, Indigenous communities, and more remote areas of the country. These factors underscore the importance of sustaining public health measures and individual practices and not easing restrictions too fast or too soon. This is particularly important in light of the emergence of new virus variants of concern that could rapidly accelerate transmission of COVID-19 in Canada. 

As severe outcomes lag behind increased disease activity, we can expect to see ongoing heavy impacts on our healthcare system and health workforce for weeks to come. Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 4,651 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Jan 15-21), including 870 of whom were being treated in intensive care units. During the same period (Jan 15-21), there were an average of 149 COVID-19-related deaths reported daily. This situation continues to burden local healthcare resources, particularly in areas where infection rates are highest. These impacts affect everyone, as the healthcare workforce and health system bear a heavy strain, important elective medical procedures are delayed or postponed, adding to pre-existing backlogs.  

Stringent and consistent efforts are needed to sustain a downward trend in case counts and strongly suppress COVID-19 activity across Canada. This will not only prevent more tragic outcomes, but will help to ensure that new virus variants of concern do not have the opportunity to spread. Unless we continue the hard work to suppress COVID-19 activity across Canada, there is a risk that more transmissible virus variants could take hold or even replace less transmissible variants, which could result in a significant and difficult to control acceleration of spread. Staying the course will also buy critical time for vaccines to begin working, as we continue to prepare the way for widespread and lasting control of COVID-19 through safe and effective vaccines.

A range of public health measures and restrictions are in place across Canada as we continue our collective effort to interrupt the spread of the virus. Canadians are urged to continue following local public health advice and to consistently maintain individual practices that keep us and our families safer: stay home/self-isolate if you have any symptoms, reduce non-essential activities and outings to a minimum, avoid all non-essential travel, and maintain individual protective practices of physical distancing, hand, cough and surface hygiene and wearing a face mask as appropriate (including in shared indoor spaces with people from outside your immediate household).

Canadians can also go the extra mile by sharing credible information on COVID-19 risks and prevention practices and measures to reduce COVID-19 in communities and by downloading the COVID Alert app to break the cycle of infection and help limit the spread of COVID-19. Read my backgrounder to access more COVID-19 Information and Resources on ways to reduce the risks and protect yourself and others, including information on COVID-19 vaccination.

SOURCE Public Health Agency of Canada

For further information: Media Relations, Public Health Agency of Canada, 613-957-2983, [email protected]

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Alberta confirms 643 new cases of COVID-19, 12 new deaths – 660 News

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EDMONTON (660 NEWS) – Alberta has confirmed 643 new cases of COVID-19 and 12 additional deaths linked to the virus.

Of the 12 new deaths, five were from the Edmonton Zone, three were from the Calgary Zone, three were from the Central Zone, and one was from the North Zone.

All 12 of the deaths had additional health issues.

There have now been 1,512 deaths linked to the virus in Alberta.

Currently, there are 9,987 active cases in the province, 691 of which are in hospital and 115 in ICU.

A total of 97,785 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered.

The province’s positivity rate sits at 4.9 per cent.

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Provinces doing 'extraordinary' job to avoid wasting doses of COVID-19 vaccine – CollingwoodToday

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OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tried to calm anxieties over COVID-19 vaccines Friday by reporting that the CEO of Pfizer is promising Canada’s deliveries will be fully restored in three weeks.

Trudeau spoke to Albert Bourla by phone Thursday evening, a week after the company informed Canada its deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines were going to be drastically cut over the next month while the company expands its production facility in Belgium.

“The next few weeks will be challenging when it comes to deliveries,” Trudeau said Friday.

“That said, Dr. Bourla assured me that hundreds of thousands of Pfizer doses will be delivered the week of Feb. 15 and in the weeks to follow.”

Canada is getting only one-third of its promised doses between Jan. 18 and Feb. 7, including none next week. Deliveries the week of Feb. 8 aren’t yet confirmed.

Trudeau said Canada will be caught up to its delivery schedule by the end of March, with all four million promised doses delivered by then.

He said there will be enough delivered from Moderna and Pfizer by September to vaccinate all Canadians who want it.

“We’re working around the clock to get as many vaccines as we can, as fast as we can,” he said. “It’s what I’m thinking about when I wake up, when I go to bed, and every hour in between.”

Gary Kobinger, a vaccine expert and director of the Research Centre on Infectious Diseases at Université Laval in Quebec City, said this week if we can get half the population immunized against COVID-19, it will start to have a real impact on the pandemic, but the magic number to see the spread start to plummet is 70 per cent.

With the two vaccines it has approved, and the delivery schedules promised from Pfizer and Moderna, Canada won’t get enough doses to get to 50 per cent until after Canada Day. Children have also not yet been approved to get any vaccine, with trials on kids as young 12 underway now, and those as young as five expected to start in the spring.

Ashleigh Tuite, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, said the month-long delay in doses isn’t going to affect herd immunity because Canada wasn’t going to be anywhere near herd immunity by the middle of February even on the original vaccine delivery schedule.

But she said on an individual level, delaying the vaccination of highly vulnerable people can have an impact, particularly at a time when we have record numbers of cases and “raging epidemics” in long-term care homes. 

“If you delay the time that it takes for the vaccines to get into those people’s arms, you’re delaying the ability to protect those people from getting infected and from having bad outcomes,” she said. “So it does have an impact.”

While COVID-19 can cause severe illness in anybody, the risks to people over the age of 60 are far greater overall. Health Canada reports that as of mid-January, people over the age of 60 account for about one-fifth of the total cases of COVID-19, but almost three-quarters of all hospitalizations, two-thirds of admissions to intensive care, and 96 per cent of deaths.

In Ontario alone since Jan. 1, 550 long-term care residents and two workers have died of COVID-19. There are 252 ongoing outbreaks in long-term care homes in Ontario, and 164 outbreaks in retirement residences.

Fears about future delivery delays grew Friday, when AstraZeneca warned European nations initial deliveries of its vaccine would be smaller than expected because of production issues.

Johnson & Johnson warned officials in the United States that it was about two months behind schedule producing doses of its vaccine.

Both companies have applied for approval of their vaccines in Canada but are still in the midst of final clinical trials and the reviews are not complete. It’s expected both could be approved for use here by early spring.

Health Canada did say this week that provincial vaccine workers were doing an “extraordinary” job preventing many doses of precious COVID-19 vaccine from going to waste.

Canada has received more than 1.1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna since mid-December, and has now given at least one dose to more than 767,000 people.

A spokeswoman says “wastage has been very minimal” and well below initial estimates.

Before the vaccination campaign began, there were concerns that as many as one-fifth of the doses delivered to Canada could end up being wasted due to intense cold-chain requirements and the complexity of distribution.

The federal department did not provide statistics but said provinces and territories are reporting their experiences and waste has not been a notable problem thus far. 

Both vaccines have to be kept frozen, but the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is particularly delicate and must be stored at temperatures below -60 C until just before it is used.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

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