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New COVID-19 testing site opens in Vancouver –



A new COVID-19 testing site has opened in a parking lot in Vancouver as case numbers continue to climb and health officials in B.C. boost the capacity to meet increased demand to get tested.

Vancouver Coastal Health announced Wednesday that a new testing site on East Seventh Avenue between Keith Drive and Glen Drive will be open daily to the public from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on a first-come, first-served basis.

People can walk, roll or drive in without an appointment or referral, a statement from the health authority states.

“Identifying new cases of COVID-19 in a timely manner is important to help prevent community spread of the virus and this new assessment centre will contribute to those efforts,” it reads.

Those who show up will be assessed prior to getting a test.

Vancouver Coastal Health says it is continuing to monitor cases throughout the region, and testing is not recommended for people without symptoms.

In the next couple of weeks, the news release says, another new assessment centre is expected to open, and some existing sites in Richmond and elsewhere will be open longer.

Fraser Health Authority announces expanded testing

In response to increased demand across the region, Fraser Health has announced its plans for new testing sites.

“By extending hours of service and adding new locations, we are helping ensure that assessment and testing is broadly available to people experiencing symptoms, when they need it,” said Health  Minister Adrian Dix.

Dr. Victoria Lee, the president and CEO of Fraser Health, and Dr. Elizabeth Brodkin, the health authority’s interim chief medical health officer, will be holding a teleconference at 1:30 p.m. PT on Wednesday about expanding access to ensure people who are experiencing symptoms can quickly get assessed and tested if they need to.

In the statement, Lee says the health authority is closely monitoring volumes and responding to what it is seeing.

“To respond to an increased demand for testing, we are expanding services where they are needed to support people with quick access to assessment and testing, and ensure we are minimizing the risk of COVID-19 transmission in our communities,” Lee said.

The health authority on Wednesday laid out the following steps for the coming days and weeks:

  • Two new drive-thru lanes at the Burnaby centre.
  • Increased staff at the Langley centre and extended hours of operation from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
  • Expanded operating hours from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. seven days a week at the Abbotsford centre.
  • Standardized service delivery model and data collection across all sites.
  • Establishment of temporary high-volume testing and assessment centres in Surrey and the Fraser northwest area.
  • Centralized pre-booking and pre-registration process to provide people with telephone and online access to book appointments and access information about wait times.

The health authority outlined several steps it has already taken, which include:

  • Setting up greeters to triage lines in Langley and Burnaby, so only people with symptoms are in line to be assessed and possibly get a test.
  • Bringing in more staff onsite and extending operating hours from noon to 8:30 p.m. every day at the Burnaby centre.
  • Adding more operating hours from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays at the Delta centre.
  • Opening the Chilliwack centre on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon.
  • Setting up traffic control in Langley to streamline testing services.
  • Creation of a testing-only line at the Surrey-Whalley Urgent and Primary Care Centre for those who have been directed by medical practitioners to get tested without receiving an assessment.

Anyone who is wondering if they need to be considered for a test can use the online COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool.

An online dashboard shows the different collection centres, which can be filtered by region, to find the closest and most convenient place to get tested.

Vancouver Coastal Health lists the following symptoms of COVID-19:

  • Fever.
  • Chills.
  • Cough or worsening of chronic cough.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Sore throat.
  • Runny nose.
  • Loss of sense of smell or taste.
  • Headache.
  • Fatigue.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Muscle aches.

Less common symptoms include:

  • Stuffy nose.
  • Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye.
  • Dizziness or confusion.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Skin rashes or discoloration of fingers or toes.

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Two more COVID-19 deaths in Alberta, 143 new cases reported –



Two more people in Alberta have died from COVID-19, and on Wednesday 143 new cases were reported.

There have been 260 deaths from the disease in Alberta since the pandemic began in early March.

The most recent deaths were a woman in her 80s from the Calgary zone and a woman in her 70s whose death was linked to an outbreak at Heimstaed Lodge in La Crete, 670 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.

Hospitalization numbers were up from the previous day, with 59 people being treated in hospital, 13 of them in ICU beds.

Across the province there were 1,520 active cases, a drop of 45 from the day before.

The regional breakdown of active cases was:

  • Edmonton zone: 821, up one from the day before.
  • Calgary zone: 481, down four from the day before.
  • North zone: 155, down 33 from the day before.
  • South zone: 38, down three from the day before.
  • Central zone: 20, down four from the day before.
  • Unknown: five, down two from the day before.

There are now outbreaks of two to four cases at 27 schools across Alberta.

New outbreaks of two to four cases were reported at Canyon Meadows School in Calgary and Riverbend School in Edmonton.

On Wednesday, Austin O’Brien High School in Edmonton was added to the watch list, which includes schools with outbreaks of five or more cases. Highlands School and Vimy Ridge in Edmonton and St. Wilfrid in Calgary were already on that list.

An outbreak at Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary has seen three patients die and 17 others test positive for COVID-19, along with nine staff members. A total of 114 staff are currently in isolation.

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COVID-19 Update from Dr. Tam Chief Public Health Officer – Net Newsledger



OTTAWA – COVID-19 – In lieu of an in-person update to the media, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, issued the following statement today:

“There have been 146,663 cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including 9,234 deaths. 87% of people have now recovered. Over the past week, there has been a marked increase in laboratory testing, with an average of almost 70,000 people tested daily across Canada and 1.4% of these testing positive.

Since our last modelling update in mid-August, the national daily case count has been increasing at an accelerated rate. Over the past seven days, an average of 1,123 cases were reported daily, compared to 380 cases reported daily in mid-August.

Canada is at a crossroads with the COVID-19 epidemic trajectory. At the current rate of growth, our epidemiological analysis and modelling studies indicate that unless public health and individual protective measures are strengthened and we work together to slow the spread of the virus, the situation is on track for a big resurgence in a number of provinces.

Throughout the summer, infection rates have been highest among young adults aged 20-39 years. While COVID-19 tends to be less severe among young people, ongoing circulation of the virus in younger, more mobile and socially connected adults builds a reservoir for the virus. This not only increases the risk for spread to individuals and populations at higher risk for severe outcomes, but it threatens our ability to keep COVID-19 at manageable levels. As well, it is important to know that young adults are not immune to the direct impacts of COVID-19, as serious or prolonged illness can occur at any age.

Yesterday I ended my remarks with a message to young adults and today I want to reiterate that now more than ever, we need your cooperation, your creativity and your drive to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. In fact, we can’t get back on the slow burn track without your help. This is your generation, this is your time, let’s work together to get this done.

To make this work, we all need to commit to strictly adhering to individual protective measures including physical distancing, hand hygiene, non-medical masks as recommended; limiting in-person contacts as much as possible to a small, consistent and trusted contacts bubble; and following the golden rule of staying home and isolating from others if experiencing any symptoms, even if mild.

The challenge we all face is to stay the course no matter how weary we may feel. We have done this before and we know that working together we can do it again. Let’s get back on the slow burn track together. Find more COVID-19 information and resources here.”

SOURCE Public Health Agency of Canada

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'Won't be gathering for Thanksgiving:' Trudeau says COVID-19 2nd wave underway –



TORONTO — A dramatic tripling of daily new cases of COVID-19 in the past month, mostly among young people, has prompted the prime minister to declare the arrival of the second wave of the pandemic and that Canadians likely won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving.

“In our four biggest provinces, the second wave isn’t just starting, it’s already underway,” Justin Trudeau said Wednesday evening in a rare television address to the nation.  

“We’re on the brink of a fall that could be much worse than the spring.”

Trudeau said Canadians can’t do anything to change the numbers now, or even tomorrow.

“But what we can change is where we are in October, and into the winter,” he said. 

“It’s all too likely we won’t be gathering for Thanksgiving, but we still have a shot at Christmas.”

Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said the country had seen an average of more than 1,100 new cases of the novel coronavirus a day this past week compared with about 380 a day in mid-August.

“Canada is at a crossroads with the COVID-19 epidemic trajectory,” Tam said before Trudeau’s address. “Unless public health and individual protective measures are strengthened and we work together to slow the spread of the virus, the situation is on track for a big resurgence in a number of provinces.”

While the new cases were primarily among young adults, more than 400 schools in Quebec and another 153 in Ontario reported at least one case of the illness. The figures from the group COVID Ecoles Quebec and the Ontario government came as authorities seek ways to curb the spread of COVID-19 among younger people.

Data from Ontario show cases among those in their 20s have risen sharply in the past month, with one expert attributing the increase in part to the reopening of schools and universities.

In an effort to tackle the problem, several provinces, cities and universities have warned of stiff fines for violating anti-COVID restrictions. However, Quebec said it would not allow police to enter homes without a warrant to break up gatherings that violate the measures.

The worrisome upward trend in new cases came as the federal Liberal government laid out its plan to take on the second wave.

“To prevent small clusters from becoming major outbreaks, communities may need to enact short-term closure orders,” the government said in its throne speech.

Stringent lockdowns in the spring caused unprecedented economic disruption, prompting the government to spend tens of billions of dollars on supports as unemployment skyrocketed.

The throne speech promised, among other things, an extension of the federal wage-subsidy program until next summer, more aid for businesses and help to boost testing capacity. People in various cities have waited for hours or even days for virus testing. Safety concerns led a hospital in Kitchener, Ont., to close its drive-thru testing centre as people arrived in the wee hours.

In all, COVID-19 has killed about 9,250 people in Canada, while the cumulative case count has been edging toward the 150,000 mark.

Quebec, with more than 69,000 cases, accounts for about 48 per cent of the total cases but 63 per cent of the deaths. Ontario’s more than 48,000 reported cases account for 33 per cent nationally, and 31 per cent of fatalities

On Wednesday, Quebec reported 471 new cases. Another four reported deaths from the novel coronavirus brought the province’s total fatalities to 5,809.

Ontario, which has shown a steady increase in new cases since mid-August, after months of declines, reported 335 new cases Wednesday and another three deaths. Almost 70 per cent of new infections were in people under the age of 40.

Concern is also mounting as more long-term care homes in Ontario, brutally hit by the virus earlier in the year, report outbreaks. Almost 70 per cent of fatalities have been among those aged 80 and older and another 27 per cent were 60 to 79 years of age.

While older people and those with underlying health conditions are more susceptible to severe illnesses from SARS-CoV-2, younger people can spread the disease — often before showing any symptoms.

“When there’s so much in the community, it can escalate into the populations with more vulnerability,” Dr. Vera Etches, medical officer of health in Ottawa, one of the harder hit cities, said.

Ontario data indicates new cases among people in their 20s have reached similar levels to those seen among people in their 80s in mid-April. Along with school reopenings, Dr. Brian Ward, a professor of medicine at McGill University, cited bars and parties as key factors, along with a “general sense of invulnerability” among younger people.

“COVID fatigue also clearly plays a role,” Ward said.

Winnipeg, for example, accounted for 30 of Manitoba’s 42 new cases reported Wednesday, with possible exposures at restaurants, bars and a pub trivia night, the province said.

Trudeau sympathized with Canadians feeling the stress of a second wave, but urged people to be strong.

“‘Can’t’ will not define us,” he said. 

“We can bend the curve. We can build a stronger future. We can define the change.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 23, 2020.

Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press

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