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Nunavut premier warns overcrowding could worsen COVID-19 outbreak – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Nunavut issued a territory-wide two-week shutdown Monday following a jump in COVID-19 cases that had health officials worried the infection could spread quickly to other remote communities vulnerable to an outbreak and quickly overwhelm resources.

Eight more cases were reported on Monday, bringing the territory’s total to 26. After managing to avoid a single case since the first infection was identified in Canada in January, Nunavut reported its first COVID-19 patient on Nov. 6. Ten cases were identified on Sunday, which more than doubled the number of infections in the territory within 48 hours. Contact-tracing efforts indicate that it was possible other communities could have also been exposed to the virus.

“Our saving grace is we’ve had time to prepare. More is known about the virus now,” Premier Joe Savikataaq told CTV’s Power Play, adding that people were also now accustomed to the safety and distancing protocols around the coronavirus.

“The problem we have is we have so much overcrowding within Nunavut in all 25 of our communities and that is a problem in terms of whether you can isolate and whether the virus will spread.”

The premier said health workers and the territory’s health resources were able to handle the cases in the three communities so far.

“If it goes into any more communities, then we may need to ask for help in terms of resources and finances, but right now, we’re holding our own,” Savikataaq said. 

He reiterated the chief public health officer’s assessment that Nunavut could likely handle three or four communities, but anything more would likely require asking for additional resources from the federal government.

There are currently confirmed cases in Sanikiluaq, Rankin Inlet and Arviat. There have been no indications of community transmission at Sanikiluaq, but Rankin Inlet has seen a single case turn into four. The cases were all traced back to the hamlet of Arviat, Savikataaq said. 

The territory said Sunday that community transmission is believed to be occurring in Arviat, which has a population of just over 2,600, as there is no clear links between the patients to show how they became infected.

So far, those infected are showing symptoms, but everyone is “doing well” and isolating at home, he said on Power Play.

“All the cases have a common denominator that they came from Winnipeg, to the best of our knowledge.”

Travellers entering the territory must complete a 14-day isolation period at one of Nunavut’s isolation hubs in Winnipeg. Everyone infected underwent the mandatory isolation, the premier said, so health officials are investigating how the cases could have entered the territory.

“They will be looking at what broke down. What wasn’t working that the virus was able to come in, even with the people that did do the 14-day isolation,” Savikataaq said.

TERRITORY-WIDE LOCKDOWN

The territory ordered all non-essential services, businesses and organizations to close or switch to a work-from-home model starting Wednesday. Grocery stores, fuel service stations, Canada Post and financial institutions were the only exceptions, chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson said in a news conference earlier Monday.

“We’re taking these steps for at least the next two weeks to prevent further spread of COVID-19. Effective Wednesday and territory wide, all gatherings are restricted to five people.”

Outdoor gatherings of more than five people will no longer be permitted, and indoor gatherings will be restricted to five people in addition to household members, according to details in a press release.

Travel within Nunavut is not restricted, but government officials highly recommend against it. For those entering the territory, a 14-day isolation period was still required.

“Think of it as a circuit breaker chance to reset,” Savikataaq said earlier at a news conference.

“So there’s no misunderstanding — do not visit. Do not socialize outside your household. And I cannot stress this enough — stay home.”

Patterson said the shutdown was necessary to control community transmission.

“Through our investigations we have concerns that COVID-19 may spread to additional communities, which is why we are initiating a territory-wide lockdown with restrictions similar to what we saw in March and April,” he said, explaining the concern rose from instances where people left a community before the infection was identified. Health officials have been in touch with contacts who may have been exposed.

All schools will close and move to remote learning, and child-care centres will be closed to all but essential workers. Visitation to long-term care centres is on hold as well for at least two weeks unless approved by the public health physician on call, Patterson said.

All health centres will also close except for emergency services. Bars will close and restaurants will only be offering take-out services.

All recreation facilities will be closed and all sporting activities and events are suspended. Personal services, such as hairstylists and masseuses, must close as well.

Patterson said that the government will re-evaluate the effectiveness of the shutdown on Dec. 2 to determine if the new restrictions need to remain in place for longer.

The territory is also now recommending face masks be worn in all public spaces and when physical distancing cannot be maintained. Masks remain mandatory in the Kivalliq region, and Sanikiluaq.

Savikataaq said it was “more important than ever” that residents do their part to help limit the spread of COVID-19 in the territory’s communities.

“For the health and safety of all Nunavummiut this is necessary,” he said.

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Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue – Victoria News

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The country’s top doctor is asking Canadians to limit their contacts and gatherings as COVID-19 cases continue to surge in several provinces.

In a statement released Sunday (Nov. 29), chief medical officer Dr. Theresa Tam said there has been an average of 5,335 new cases daily over the past week, compared to 4,739 daily new cases from Nov. 13-19.

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior, while the positivity rate has increased from 6.6 per cent to 7.6 per cent. The number of patients in hospital with COVID-19 has increased to 2,111 from Nov. 20 to 26, up from 1,840 the week prior. The number of ICU patients treated daily jumped from 376 to 432 over the same time period, while average daily deaths increased by five to 76.

“More and larger outbreaks are occurring in long term care homes, congregate living settings and hospitals, and spreading in Indigenous communities and more remote areas of the country,” Tam said. “These developments are deeply concerning as they put countless Canadians at risk of life-threatening illness, cause serious disruptions to health services and present significant challenges for areas not adequately equipped to manage complex medical emergencies.”

Tam said that this time period was crucial, as the weather continues to get colder across the country and gathering indoors becomes more tempting.

“Avoid or limit time spent in the 3Cs – closed spaces, crowded places and close-contact settings and situations,” she said, as well as urging people to wear masks, stay home if they are sick and wash their hands frequently.

In total, Canada has reported 370,278 confirmed cases and 12,032 deaths due to COVID-19.

B.C. recorded a record-breaking 911 cases on Friday, the last day of a week that has proven to be its deadliest of the pandemic.

READ MORE: Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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Alberta's central zone now has 1101 active COVID-19 cases – Stettler Independent

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The Government of Alberta reported 1,609 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday.

The province now has 15,692 active cases, to go along with 40,219 recovered cases, according to the latest statistics on the government’s website.

Alberta Health Services’ central zone has risen to 1,101 active cases, while the Edmonton zone has 7,230, Calgary has 5,756, the north zone has 857, the south zone has 642 and 223 cases are in an unknown area.

The provincial death toll has risen to 533, which is an increase of nine.

The City of Red Deer currently has 191 active cases, Red Deer County has 61, Sylvan Lake has 48, Lacombe County has 42, Clearwater County has 31, the City of Lacombe has 28, Olds has 21, Mountain View County has 15 and Stettler County has six.

Collectively, Ponoka County and Wetaskiwin County have 349.

“The next few weeks will be hard for all of us in light of the restrictions on social gatherings. I want to thank all of you for doing the right thing and making these sacrifices to help bend the curve,” Alberta’s chief medical officer of healthDr. Deena Hinshaw said on Twitter Sunday.

“While we may be physically separated from each other, I strongly encourage you to reach out to your friends and family and stay connected virtually. We are all in this together – so please reach out to a loved one if you need to.”

Provincially, 435 are in the hospital due to COVID-19 – 95 of those individuals have been admitted into an intensive care unit. In the central zone, 27 people have been hospitalized, five of whom are in intensive care.

In the past 24 hours, 23,282 tests were completed in the province, which brings the total number of tests to 2,234,470.

Hinshaw’s next live update is Monday.



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Red Deer up to 191 active COVID-19 cases – rdnewsnow.com

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Another nine deaths from COVID-19 were reported to bring Alberta’s total to 533.

Red Deer has 191 active cases of COVID-19 as of Sunday, an increase of 20. There have now been 334 recovered cases, an increase of three, as the total number of cases attributed to the city rose by 24 to 525.

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Red Deer County has 64 active cases as of Saturday, an increase of seven, while Sylvan Lake added four to sit with 48.

Lacombe County has 42 active cases, an increase of seven, while Lacombe has 28, also an increase of six.

Clearwater County (Rocky Mtn. House) added 10 more active cases for a total of 31.

Ponoka County added 12 active cases to sit with 250.

Mountain View County holds steady with 15 active cases, Olds added three for a total of 21, and Kneehill County added one for a total of 16. Starland County remains with four and the County of Stettler is up two for a total of six active cases.

There are now 1,101 active cases in the Central zone, an increase of 110, with 27 hospitalizations, including five in intensive care.

“The next few weeks will be hard for all of us in light of the restrictions on social gatherings. I want to thank all of you for doing the right thing and making these sacrifices to help bend the curve,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Tweeted on Sunday.

“While we may be physically separated from each other, I strongly encourage you to reach out to your friends and family and stay connected virtually. We are all in this together – so please reach out to a loved one if you need to.”

Hinshaw is scheduled to share her next live update on Monday.

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