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Number of wedding attendees infected with COVID-19 climbs to 23

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NEWS RELEASE
YORK REGION PUBLIC HEALTH
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Newmarket – York Region Public Health has received laboratory confirmation 23 individuals attending a series of wedding events in the City of Markham, Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville and City of Toronto between Aug. 28 and Aug. 29, 2020, have tested positive for COVID-19.

Of these confirmed cases, 18 are residents of York Region, 4 are residents of Durham Region and 1 is a resident of Peel Region.

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 attending the wedding, which included celebrations at each the following four locations:

  • Friday, Aug. 28 – Private residence in the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville
  • Friday, Aug. 28 – Rexdale Singh Sabha Religious Centre at 47 Baywood Road in the City of Toronto
  • Friday, Aug. 28 – Lakshmi Narayamandir Temple at 1 Morningview Trail in the City of Toronto
  • Saturday, Aug. 29 – Private residence in the City of Markham

To assist with contact tracing, York Region is asking all individuals who attended an event associated with this wedding at Rexdale Singh Sabha Religious Centre in the City of Toronto, Lakshmi Narayamandir Temple in the City of Toronto or the private residences in the City of Markham or Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville to:

  • Monitor for new signs and symptoms related to COVID-19 until Saturday, September 12, 2020 (14 days after last possible exposure)
  • If you are currently experiencing symptoms, self-isolate immediately, call York Region Public Health at 1-800-361-5653 and seek assessment and testing at a COVID-19 Assessment Centre 
  • Download the COVID-ALERT app: get a phone alert if you may have been exposed to COVID-19 and let others know if you test positive without sharing any personal, health or location information; visit covid-19.ontario.ca/covidalert for more app details and links to download to your Smartphone

Residents can also help reduce the spread of COVID-19 by following public health guidelines:

York Region Public Health has issued a COVID-19 Guidance for Places of Worship to help reduce transmission in faith communities.

For more information on York Region’s response to COVID-19, visit york.ca/covid19

The Regional Municipality of York consists of nine local cities and towns and provides a variety of programs and services to 1.2 million residents and 54,000 businesses with 650,000 employees. More information about the Region’s key service areas is available at york.ca/regionalservices

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Source:- BarrieToday

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Sampling-site bottlenecks continue to impede Manitoba COVID-19 testing efforts – CBC.ca

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When Bronagh Nazarko took one of her kids to get a COVID-19 test in Winnipeg, she ended up waiting four hours in line and missing a day of work.

When her husband took their other two kids to get tested several days later, he too waited four hours and also missed a day in the home office.

The experience left her wondering how other parents are supposed to juggle child-care and work responsibilities while they wait for a COVID-19 swab, which Manitoba’s government has spent six months promoting as a central facet of its pandemic response.

“We’re very lucky that we have fairly flexible office jobs and that we can work from home, but for a lot of people, I just can’t see that this is sustainable to do this,” Nazarko said Wednesday in an interview.

“I can see that this would deter people from getting tested, and I’m concerned that that means cases will get missed because people don’t want to wait.”

Winnipeg still undergoing surge in demand for swabs

For weeks, there have been long lines outside Winnipeg’s sole drive-through COVID-19 sampling site in the North End on Main Street and heavy traffic at its three other sampling sites.

Winnipeg is now the epicentre of the province’s COVID-19 outbreak, with the city possessing 335 of Manitoba’s 418 active cases.

(Jacques Marcoux/CBC)

The province has responded by warning more restrictions could be placed on the Winnipeg health region if residents and visitors don’t become more diligent about gathering in small groups, washing their hands, keeping a safe distance away from each other and wearing masks when they cannot.

On Tuesday, the province also pledged to open another sampling site by Sept. 28 under the management of private health-care company Dynacare. It is supposed to collect up to 1,400 samples a day, at first, with the eventual potential to administer 2,600 swabs.

“The new specimen-collection sites announced [Tuesday] will help address waits for sample collection that are due to increased volumes,” Manitoba Public Health said in a statement.

Manitoba’s Official Opposition contends this promise is not good enough for Manitobans right now.

“I think people are upset today, waiting hours in line,” NDP Leader Wab Kinew said.

“This is something that the government has seen coming for six months or more. And again, we all made tremendous sacrifices, whether on a personal or social level to try and flatten the curve, to buy the government more time.”

Testing inspires confidences, premier suggested

At the height of Manitoba’s economically stifling lockdown, the premier suggested widespread testing and contact tracing would be the key to allowing the province to get back to business.

“We know that through increased testing there is an increased possibility that we’ll be able to build confidence — not only in the general public, but in the health officials whose guidance we must listen to — that we are not opening the door to a resurgence in COVID infections in our province,” Premier Brian Pallister said on April 16.

Twelve days later, he pledged to increase lab-testing capacity to 3,000 tests per day with the help of a new Dynacare lab in Winnipeg. That lab was completed by the end of July and Manitoba can now complete as many as 2,800 tests per day, between the work conducted at the Dynacare lab and Cadham Provincial Lab.

In recent weeks, the province has been completing fewer than 1,500 tests per day, on average, and Winnipeggers began to complain about long lines.

(Jacques Marcoux/CBC)

Unlike in April, when health-care workers left idle due to restrictions on hospital and clinic operations presented an easily accessible pool of skilled labour, health administrators found themselves unable to find the staff to extend hours at sampling sites, Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said last week.

Health Minister Cameron Friesen’s office said the province is facing unprecedented challenges.

“We empathize with Manitobans’ frustrations surrounding COVID-19, and work to alleviate these stressors as we have done throughout the entire pandemic,” Friesen’s office said in a statement.

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority is recruiting volunteers to help direct traffic at sampling sites, spokesperson Paul Turenne said.

The Dynacare site will also help, Friesen’s office said. The precise date it will open has not been determined, said Mark Bernhardt, Dynacare’s communications manager based in Brampton, Ont.

Kinew accused the province of relying too heavily on the private firm.

“It seems as though the government is just abdicating [its] responsibility to provide what I think is the most important public health measure right now: figuring out whether or not you have COVID during the COVID pandemic,” he said. 

“The government’s declared a state of emergency, and yet they basically created a vacuum of leadership and just said, ‘OK, Dynacare … you go handle everything for us.'”

Workplace testing available for private clients

Kinew also expressed concern that Dynacare provides workplace COVID-19 testing for companies willing to pay extra to test their workers.

“If someone has more money and they have a registered business, all of a sudden they can skip the line. To me, that’s not fair and it violates the public health interest that we all have in fighting the pandemic,” he said.

Bernhardt confirmed Dynacare provides mobile workplace testing for COVID-19 as well as blood tests for other illnesses. All samples collected from private clients are processed at a lab in Brampton, he said, and do not compete for lab time with public samples in Winnipeg.

Nazarko, who spent hours in the testing queue with her kids, said she is concerned about will happen in Winnipeg during the winter, when waiting for hours outside won’t be possible.

“I would personally really like to see them switch to an appointment-based system where we could wait at home and my husband and I could work until our appointment time comes,” she said.

Roussin said earlier this month the province is pondering what to do with sampling sites during the winter.

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'I can take it:' Ottawa top doctor receiving 'ugly emails' – OttawaMatters.com

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Ottawa’s top doctor says she has received some “ugly emails” during the COVID-19 pandemic but isn’t letting them distract her from her job.

“I take in that information and I think about how we can better support people with our social services, with economic recovery,” said Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa’s chief medical officer of health. “I’m focused on trying to make sure we manage through this pandemic so people can get back on their feet.” 

Dr. Etches says she hasn’t received any death threats and doesn’t think she is in any danger.

“Of course people are frustrated. People have been harmed by losing their jobs, losing their businesses. Those are not small impacts, it’s very serious.” 

The doctor says she recognizes that everyone is suffering from the pandemic.

“I know that this is a stressful time and people are angry, and I appreciate that,” explains Dr. Etches. “They’re looking for someone to blame or to express that anger and I think it’s important to hear from people who are negatively impacted.”

Dr. Etches’ comments come after British Columbia’s top doctor said she’s been receiving death threats and abusive letters in her role as a public figure during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Bonnie Henry told a panel discussion at the annual convention of the Union of B.C. Municipalities that she’s had to have security in her home and has been targeted by people who don’t agree with her.

– With files from the Canadian Press

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Manitobans waiting more than 2 hours to speak to Health Links – CTV News Winnipeg

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WINNIPEG —
As COVID-19 cases rise in Manitoba, Health Links is experiencing increased call volumes, resulting in longer wait times for callers.

According to a spokesperson from Shared Health, the increase in calls is attributed to the spike in COVID-19 cases, as well as the return to school on Sept. 8. They noted a small number of callers are looking for the results to their COVID-19 tests.

In a statement on Sept. 23, the spokesperson said because of the increase in calls, Manitobans are experiencing longer-than-average wait times to talk to Health Links, noting that wait times vary throughout the day.

On average in the past week, wait times have ranged between 53 and 128 minutes, though those calling at peak times may wait even longer.

“As COVID-19 activity in Manitoba can be expected to continue to vary, the volume of calls to HL-IS is being monitored closely with consideration being given to how current wait times may be addressed,” the statement said.

The spokesperson reminded Manitobans that they can get their COVID-19 test results through the online results portal on Shared Health’s website, as long as they have a Manitoba health card.

Anyone who tests positive will be contacted directly, but the posting of negative results could take several days.

Health Links, a phone-based nursing triage system, is the flagship program for the Provincial Health Contact Centre.

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