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Ontario hits record-high COVID-19 cases as pre-Christmas shopping blamed – Toronto Star

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Ontario has hit a record high number of COVID-19 cases — 2,553 reported Tuesday — as pre-Christmas shopping was blamed in part for the spike in cases in Toronto.

“Ontario is reporting our highest number of new, daily COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began,” Dr. Barbara Yaffe, the province’s associate chief medical officer of health, said Tuesday from Queen’s Park.

The 2,553 cases, she added, came with “a total record high per cent positivity rate at 9.7 per cent, following (Monday’s) high rate of 8.6 per cent.”

She said the numbers released Tuesday “would not be related to the Christmas holiday; it is too early for us to be seeing the result of any get-togethers that may have occurred. But what we have learned from our colleagues at Toronto Public Health is that the increase in their daily numbers can be, in part, attributed to pre-Christmas shopping trips, shopping trips often in groups.”

Toronto reported a big jump in cases: 895, up from 412 on Dec. 28 and 572 on Dec. 27, and Yaffe said it remains to be seen whether this is a trend or an anomaly.

A province-wide lockdown came into effect on Boxing Day, Premier Doug Ford saying “this difficult action is without a doubt necessary to save lives and prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed in the coming weeks.”

The move put into place a number of restrictions already happening in Toronto, Peel, York, Hamilton and Windsor, including a ban on indoor and outdoor dining, as well as limiting retail activities.

“Make no mistake, thousands of lives are at stake right now,” Ford said before Christmas. “If we fail to take action now, the consequences could be catastrophic … The health officials are telling us that province-wide action is needed if we’re going to break these trends.”

The lockdown will last until Jan. 9 across the province, but extend to Jan. 23 for southern Ontario where numbers continue to climb.

The province’s previous record for COVID-19 was Dec. 24, with 2,447 cases recorded.

“In fact, with the exception of (Monday), Ontario has recorded over 2,000 cases daily since Dec. 15 with an average of 32 deaths a day,” Yaffe also said, with hospitalizations and intensive-care unit admissions also high.

“We cannot forget that (the data) represent people — people who have been impacted by the virus and, in too many cases, lost their lives,” Yaffe said. “So while I understand that the lockdown measures that came into effect on Dec. 26 are not what we want to be living through right now, this is what we need to do, what we must do, to slow the transmission of this infection.”

There are now three confirmed cases of a new variant of COVID-19 from the United Kingdom here in Ontario, Yaffe said, with one individual in Ottawa who recently travelled from the U.K, and two cases in Durham connected to contact with someone who had also been there.

“Discovering this strain emphasizes the importance for travellers to maintain their 14-day quarantine and a reminder to everyone that public health measure in place are protective against that variant.”

She urged Ontarians to remain home on New Year’s Eve to help stop the spread of COVID.

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“As we look ahead to Thursday night and the promise of a new year — a new year with more and more people being immunized against COVID-19 — please remember that we are not over the side of the mountain just yet,” she said. “We still have some kilometres to climb before we can go safely down the other side.

“Please celebrate this coming new year with all the optimism and hope that it deserves, but do so with great care.”

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Coronavirus: Beware workplace, family spread, new Ottawa Public Health case study warns – Global News

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The latest case study documenting coronavirus transmission in Ottawa shows the risks of lowering one’s guard in the workplace and when interacting with other households.

Ottawa Public Health tweeted a real-world contact tracing example Friday morning, as the heath unit has done previously, to show how COVID-19 spread through organized sports, weddings and outdoor social events, this time depicting virus transmission from one confirmed case in a few seemingly innocuous settings.

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Before showing symptoms, this individual went to work where inconsistent mask use and physical distancing, coupled with some team members sharing a meal together, resulted in six employees testing positive for the virus and 18 more co-workers forced to self-isolate due to their high risk of exposure.

Two additional cases were linked to this workplace outbreak after one of the employees who tested positive brought the case into their home; other household members of the positive cases also had to self-isolate.

The original person who tested positive then developed minor symptoms but still attended a family gathering, where four households came together.

Six additional people tested positive as a result of this gathering and three other high-risk contacts were created.


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How an outdoor gathering in Ottawa led to community transmission


How an outdoor gathering in Ottawa led to community transmission – Sep 23, 2020

Finally, the original person had a friend over to their home. That contact then tested positive for the virus as well and exposed the other five members of their household.

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Within two weeks’ time, the original case had become 15 with 40 high-risk contacts.

“We’re naturally more relaxed around people we’re close to, but this cluster is a reminder that COVID doesn’t care how well we know someone. Whether around coworkers we’ve known for years, friends or family members, we must remain vigilant,” OPH said in the tweet.

The local health unit also added one addendum to the case study: don’t gather with four households.


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Coronavirus: How scientists track new variants of the virus


Coronavirus: How scientists track new variants of the virus

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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B.C. slated to give more details on COVID-19 vaccine program – Vancouver Sun

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VICTORIA — British Columbia is updating its immunization strategy for COVID-19 today as Premier John Horgan is scheduled to be joined by health officials to lay out the latest on the government’s plan.

Nearly 31,000 doses of vaccine that the province expected to arrive by Jan. 29 could be curtailed due to production delays in the supply from Pfizer-BioNTech.

Two doses of the vaccine are needed to ensure immunity from the virus that causes COVID-19 and Health Minister Adrian Dix said earlier this week that B.C. was set to begin administering second doses.

He said the province remains committed to ensuring all those who have had the first shot get a second dose within 35 days.

On Thursday, the province said it had administered 104,901 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, of which 1,680 were second doses.

Horgan is being joined in making today’s announcement by Dix, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Dr. Penny Ballem, who is leading the COVID-19 immunization rollout.

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What you need to know about COVID-19 in B.C. for Jan. 22 – CBC.ca

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THE LATEST:

  • Premier John Horgan will join health officials this morning to talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination plan.
  • As of Thursday, 104,901 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C.
  • The premier has announced that B.C. will not restrict interprovincial travel at this time.
  • On Thursday, 564 new cases of COVID-19 and 15 more deaths were reported.
  • There are currently 4,450 active cases of the coronavirus in B.C.
  • 309 people are in hospital, with 68 in the ICU.

Long-awaited details on B.C.’s plan for distributing COVID-19 vaccines are expected to be released Friday morning.

Premier John Horgan, Health Minister Adrian Dix, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Dr. Penny Ballem, executive lead of the B.C. immunization rollout, are scheduled to provide more information during a public announcement at 10:30 a.m. PT.

The province’s immunization program has been complicated by a hiccup in vaccine supply from Pfizer-BioNTech. Nearly 31,000 doses of vaccine the province expected by Jan. 29 could be curtailed because of production issues.

So far, 104,901 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., including 1,680 second doses. 

Friday’s announcement follows news that B.C. will not ban non-essential travellers from other provinces in order to halt the spread of COVID-19. 

Thursday evening, Horgan said that the government has explored its legal options and it’s not possible to restrict travel at this point, but that could change if B.C. sees an increase in transmission caused by interprovincial visitors.

On Thursday, B.C. health officials announced 564 new cases of COVID-19 and 15 more deaths.

In a written statement, Henry and Dix put the number of hospitalized patients at 309 people, 68 of whom are in intensive care. Hospitalizations are now at their lowest level since Nov. 28

A total of 1,119 people in B.C. have lost their lives to COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

Henry and Dix said a new community cluster has been detected in and around Williams Lake in the central Interior. There are no new outbreaks in the health-care system, and six outbreaks have been declared over.

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What’s happening elsewhere in Canada

As of 8 p.m. PT on Thursday, Canada had reported 731,450 cases of COVID-19, and 18,622 total deaths.

A total of 67,099 cases are considered active.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever.
  • Cough.
  • Tiredness.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Loss of taste or smell.
  • Headache.

But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia.

What should I do if I feel sick?

Use the B.C. Centre for Disease Control’s COVID-19 self-assessment tool. Testing is recommended for anyone with symptoms of cold or flu, even if they’re mild. People with severe difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, difficulty waking up or o​​​​​​ther extreme symptoms should call 911.

What can I do to protect myself?

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Keep them clean.
  • Keep your distance from people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Wear a mask in indoor public spaces.
  • Be aware of evolving travel advisories to different regions.

More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government’s website.

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