The Ontario government recently amended Ontario Regulation 364/20, Rules for Areas in Stage 3, to include mandatory COVID-19 symptom screening in almost all Ontario workplaces.
In short, these amendments require Ontario employers to screen all workers (employees, contractors, agency employees, etc.) and all essential visitors for COVID-19 symptoms and to confirm they are not otherwise excluded from lawfully entering the workplace due to recent international travel or close contact with an individual who has received a confirmed or presumed diagnosis of COVID-19.
To help with compliance with the amended regulation, the Ontario Ministry of Health created a document titled, “COVID-19 Screening Tool for Workplaces (Businesses and Organizations).” According to the ministry, employers “should implement [this tool]… for any workers or essential visitors entering the work environment.” However, the Ontario Ministry of Health also cautioned that the tool “is not to be used as a clinical assessment tool or intended to take the place of medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.” The screening tool contains a number of questions to screen for symptoms of COVID-19, as well as confirmation of whether the person has traveled outside of Canada within the previous 14 days or has been in close contact (defined elsewhere as being within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes) with a person with a confirmed or probable diagnosis of COVID-19.
If an individual being screened identifies any new or worsening symptoms of COVID-19 (other than chronic symptoms or symptoms related to other known causes or conditions), traveled outside of Canada within the past 14 days, or was in close contact with a confirmed or probable COVID-19 case, employers are required to ensure that the employee does not return to the workplace. The Ontario Ministry of Health stated that “[s]creening should be performed at the start of work/the employee’s shift, before the employee enters the workplace and begins work. For essential visitors, screenings should be conducted when they arrive at the place of business.
This screening regulation does not apply to certain health care settings, “and some non-health care workplaces (e.g., congregate living settings) where existing screening is already in place.” It also does not require businesses to screen patrons entering a workplace that is open to the public (such as restaurants, grocery stores or bars) or to emergency workers responding to an emergency.
The government also noted that additional questions or screening may be appropriate in certain circumstances or in certain workplaces; however, nothing in this regulation requires any physical examination or medical testing be performed, such as temperature checks or a pre-access negative COVID-19 test.
Many employers have already established COVID-19 screening in their workforces based on their duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, which require (among other things) that employers take reasonable precautions to protect workers from harm. In light of the amended Ontario Regulation 364/20, employers that have not yet implemented screening protocols may want to do so. Employers may want to take demonstrable steps to screen their workers and essential visitors, since inspectors from the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development or public health agencies could demand proof that screening has been implemented in the workplace.
© 2020, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 276
B.C.’s top doctor is reminding you to keep your gatherings small this Halloween – News 1130
SURREY (NEWS 1130) – While B.C.’s top doctor is giving the thumbs up to trick-or-treating this weekend, it’s a different story when it comes to parties.
“No Halloween parties this weekend,” Dr. Bonnie Henry said during her COVID-19 update on Thursday. “This Halloween weekend we need to celebrate in new ways. We need to keep our groups small.”
It comes days after she issued a new provincial health order, limiting gatherings at homes to no more than the people living there plus six others in their “safe bubble.”
“This is because many of the things we do at parties and celebrations, things like talking and hugging and eating and drinking together indoors are much, much riskier. Particularly now.”
B.C.’s top doc is giving a thumbs up to trick-or-treating this weekend but it’s a different story when it comes to parties.
“No Halloween parties,” Bonnie Henry said yesterday. “This Halloween weekend we need to celebrate in new ways. We need to keep our groups small.” @NEWS1130
— Monika Gul (@MonikaGul) October 30, 2020
But Henry said if you plan to get together with people in your safe six this weekend, it should maybe be at a restaurant instead of someone’s home.
“It does prevent transmission of this virus. There are some very clear reasons for this. First, for most of us, our homes do not have the space for everybody to keep that safe distance that we need right now. Second, our homes don’t have those layers of protection that we have built in to other places to slow the spread of COVID-19,” she explained.
“We don’t use such things as plexi-glass barriers and one-way pathways in our homes, which naturally means that we will be closer to each other.”
Unlike at the grocery store or a school, we’re also more likely to forget about precautions at home because we’re more familiar and comfortable with our setting, Henry added.
“Many of the new cases we have today are directly linked to gatherings — in our homes and elsewhere — that are now resulting in community transmission of COVID-19 across the province. But this has been particularly the case in the Lower Mainland and the Fraser Health region.”
People in the Fraser Health region are being asked to skip out on gatherings, even small ones, altogether this weekend.
“Even small gatherings can be risky right now,” Fraser Health Authority President Dr. Victoria Lee said Thursday. “At this crucial time, we’re asking people who reside in the Fraser Health region to take a pause and reconsider as our social interactions outside of our households.”
Safe six clarification: Dr Lee, We said you should not even have your safe six inside your home for events. We are asking you to pause, reconsider if it’s necessary to have people outside your household into your home.#bcpoli @NEWS1130 #covid19
— LizaYuzda (@LizaYuzda) October 29, 2020
The Fraser Health region has seen the majority of COVID-19 cases in the province.
When it comes to trick-or-treating, Henry said that should be kept small too.
“It can be done safely, outside, with small groups. Making sure that we give the others the space to stay safe and also importantly to respect those homes that are choosing not to participate this year.”
COVID-19 Live Updates: News on coronavirus in Calgary for Oct. 30 – Calgary Herald
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Alberta updates symptom checklist for students
Alberta is providing new guidance for parents checking for COVID-19 symptoms before school each morning.
Currently, students are asked to stay home and monitor for 24 hours when they have one of the non-core COVID-19 symptoms of chills, sore throat, runny nose, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, muscle/joint aches, or headache. Starting Monday, the government will be removing runny nose and sore throat from the list of symptoms that require mandatory isolation for school-aged children.
“Based on our data so far, the risk of a child with just one of these symptoms has COVID is even lower if that child is not known to be a close contact of someone with COVID-19,” Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday, emphasizing that this new checklist only applies to those with no known exposure to COVID-19.
Also starting Monday, children with only one of the non-core symptoms should still stay home and monitor for 24 hours, but if they improve, testing is not necessary and they can return to normal activities. If they have two or more symptoms, however, they should stay home until the symptoms improve or they test negative for COVID-19.
Alberta sets new high in COVID-19 cases among kids and teens, while testing declines – CBC.ca
The number of cases of COVID-19 among school-aged children in Alberta has again surged to a new high, while the number of kids and teens being tested continues to decline.
Data from Alberta Health shows the number of new daily cases has continued to rise among five- to nine-year-olds and has again shot up, especially, among 10- to 19-year-olds.
Over the past week on record, an average of 85 cases were recorded per day among school-aged kids and teens.
In-person classes resumed at many Alberta schools on Sept. 1, and for several weeks the number of new daily cases had been on the decline.
That changed during the last week in September, when cases started to rise. The trend has continued through October.
Testing numbers among kids and teens surged in late September to unprecedented heights but have since declined.
For the week ending Oct. 28, there were less than 14,000 kids tested. That’s the second-lowest weekly total since classes resumed in September.
Testing volumes have been generally declining, week after week, throughout October. The proportion of positive tests, meanwhile, has been growing.
In late September, less than one case was being detected for every 100 kids tested.
Over the past week, that’s up to 4.3 cases per 100 kids tested.
The previous peak in cases among school-aged kids came in April. At that time, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said about eight or nine per cent of tests were coming back positive.
As of Thursday, Hinshaw said there were active alerts (involving a single case) or outbreaks (two or more cases) at 249 schools. That’s roughly 10 per cent of schools in the province.
There were 730 active cases among those who attend these schools.
“So far, in-school transmission has likely occurred in 87 schools,” Hinshaw said Thursday. “Of these, 48 have seen only one new case occur as a result.”
A total of 111 schools were listed as having outbreaks, including 45 on the watch list, meaning they have five or more cases:
- City Of Airdrie — Coopers Crossing School.
- City Of Calgary — Lester B. Pearson High School.
- City Of Calgary — Nelson Mandela High School.
- City Of Calgary — Canyon Meadows School.
- City Of Calgary — Ecole de la Rose Sauvage.
- City Of Calgary — John G. Diefenbaker High School.
- City Of Calgary — Calgary French & International School.
- City Of Calgary — St. Francis High School.
- City Of Calgary — Bishop McNally High School.
- City Of Calgary — New Heights School and Learning Services.
- City Of Calgary — Sir Winston Churchill High School.
- City Of Edmonton — Archbishop O’Leary.
- City Of Edmonton — Centre High.
- City Of Edmonton — Ross Sheppard High School.
- City Of Edmonton — St. Oscar Romero Catholic High School.
- City Of Edmonton — McNally School.
- City Of Edmonton — Vimy Ridge.
- City Of Edmonton — Highlands School.
- City Of Edmonton — Cardinal Collins High School Academic Centre.
- City Of Edmonton — Harry Ainlay School.
- City Of Edmonton — Queen Elizabeth School.
- City Of Edmonton — Dr. Donald Massey School.
- City Of Edmonton — Louis St. Laurent.
- City Of Edmonton — St. Joseph.
- City Of Edmonton — Edmonton Islamic Academy.
- City Of Edmonton — Jasper Place School.
- City Of Edmonton —M.E. LaZerte School.
- City Of Edmonton — Headway School Society of Alberta.
- City Of Edmonton — Aurora School.
- City Of Edmonton — Steinhauer School.
- City Of Edmonton — St. Francis Xavier.
- City Of Edmonton — Tipaskan School.
- City Of Edmonton — St. Bernadette.
- City Of Edmonton — Kate Chegwin School.
- City Of Edmonton — Michael A Kostek Elementary School.
- City Of Edmonton — St. Thomas Aquinas School.
- City Of Red Deer — Hunting Hills High School.
- City Of St. Albert — Richard S. Fowler Catholic Junior High School.
- City Of St. Albert — Elmer S. Gish School.
- City Of St. Albert — St. Albert Catholic High School.
- Rocky View County — Khalsa School Calgary Educational Foundation.
- Strathcona County — Bev Facey Community High School.
- Strathcona County — Lakeland Ridge School.
- Town Of Cochrane — RancheView School.
- Westlock County — Richard F. Staples Secondary School.
You can find a full list of school outbreaks on the Alberta Health website.
Hinshaw said 153 schools that used to be on the list have been removed after they were deemed to no longer have any active cases.
Changes to checklist for student health
Hinshaw announced changes to the daily checklist of student health used by schools and child-care facilities across the province — as well as many parents.
“The first change is that we are removing runny nose and sore throat from the list of symptoms that require mandatory isolation for children,” she said.
In the past week, Hinshaw said more than 3,400 kids and youth tested for COVID-19 reported having a sore throat, and, of those, roughly 700 had a sore throat as their only symptom. Among those 700, less than one per cent tested positive.
Similarly, more than 3,300 kids with a runny nose were tested, and about 600 had a runny nose but no other symptoms. Of those 600, less than 0.5 per cent tested positive for COVID-19.
“This shows us that these symptoms by themselves are very poor indicators of whether a child has the virus,” Hinshaw said.
“I want to be clear that this change is only for those who have not had a known exposure,” she added.
Hinshaw said the second change is a “shift towards a more targeted checklist,” which will take into account the total number of symptoms a child has.
There will be no change if a child has any of the “core isolation symptoms,” which include cough, fever, shortness of breath or loss of taste or smell. Kids with these symptoms must still isolate for 10 days or have a negative test result and resolved symptoms before resuming their previous activities.
The change, which takes effect Monday, will apply to all other symptoms. If a child has only one such symptom, Hinshaw said “they should stay home and monitor for 24 hours.”
“If their symptom is improving after 24 hours, testing is not necessary and they can return to normal activities when they feel well enough. However, if the child has two or more of the symptoms on the list, then testing is recommended and they should stay home until the symptoms go away or they test negative for COVID-19.”
The changes align Alberta’s approach with those of B.C., Ontario and Quebec, Hinshaw said.
She acknowledged “it is also another change in a year that has been full of other changes already.”
“I know that most parents and child-care operators are used to the current symptom list and this new list may be a little challenging at first, as parents and operators adjust,” she said.
“But these changes will help get Albertans under 18 back into classrooms and child-care settings more quickly, while still keeping each other safe.”
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