NDP MPPs are calling on the Ford government to conduct widespread COVID-19 testing at all schools in the province’s hardest hit neighbourhoods after asymptomatic testing at an East York elementary school unearthed 19 previously undetected infections.
Members of the official opposition are urging the provincial government to immediately deploy resources to facilitate voluntary testing centres inside schools in Ontario neighbourhoods with high COVID-19 positivity rates.
“Doug Ford is trying to save a buck by underserving the hardest hit areas,” NDP Deputy Leader and Brampton Centre MPP Sara Singh said in a news release issued Monday.
“He has been refusing to send extra help to hot spots, because he wants to do things on the cheap. That’s resulting in longer, deeper lockdowns and more devastating illness. We need help to end this nightmare, and stop the virus from hurting our loved ones.”
On Sunday, it was revealed that asymptomatic testing at one Thorncliffe Park elementary school resulted in 18 students and one staff member testing positive for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
In a letter sent to parents yesterday, the principal of Thorncliffe Park Public School said Toronto Public Health detected the cases after 433 tests were processed on Thursday and Friday.
Thorncliffe Park is one of the neighbourhoods in the GTA that has been hardest hit by the pandemic.
Speaking at a news conference on Monday afternoon, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said that the data indicate that community transmission in Thorncliffe Park is substantially worse than the transmission happening within the school.
“I think it should be noted that the principal within this school has communicated that the positivity rate compared from the community to the school is quite vast. In the community, it is roughly 16 per cent positivity whereas in the school it is roughly four per cent,” he said.
“There is a four time increase of transmission happening in the community notwithstanding that those schools are right at the heart of those neighbourhoods.”
He said the disparity indicates that there is “something right happening” when it comes to the “layers of prevention” occurring in the public school system.
“The fact that hundreds of students and staff have gotten tested in this school in conjunction with the local public health unit, I think underscores that the plan in place is working hard to mitigate any further spread,” Lecce said.
“This morning, including the data points from Thorncliffe, 99.9 per cent of Ontario students are COVID-free and that continues to underscore the importance of following public health advice and it really I think demonstrates the importance of keeping schools open, which is our plan for 2021.”
Roughly 14 per cent of the province’s 4,828 publicly funded schools have at least one reported case of COVID-19 and at least four schools are currently closed as a result of outbreaks of the disease.
Province changed testing guidelines last week
Just last week, the province adjusted its COVID-19 testing guidance for school staff and students in Toronto, York Region, Peel Region and Ottawa to allow voluntary asymptomatic testing.
The province also offered school boards in the regions an additional $35 million to strengthen public health measures.
The testing pilot, which is in place for four weeks, was implemented to better track how the virus is spreading in and around schools.
Since late September, Ontario’s assessment centres would not test asymptomatic people unless they were linked to a known case.
The NDP called the funding and four-week testing program a “half-measure.”
“Some students in some regions may be able to get tests. According to the government, the location and method for testing will vary between regions and cities, regions will have to develop their own plan,” the NDP said in a news release last week.
“Ford’s still trying to cheap out on testing students, teachers and staff, and that’s not good enough.”
Infectious diseases specialist Dr. Abdu Sharkawy said he believes the discovery at Thorncliffe Park Public School is an imporant one.
“We know that children tend to be minimally, if not symptomatic at all, but they appear to be quite good at spreading this,” he told CP24 on Monday.
“So we need to be quite aware of whether or not there is any asymptomatic signal within our younger children to prevent that from spreading to others in a multi-generational household or others who are certainly going to be at a higher risk if they acquire COVID-19 and become a lot sicker.”
Sharkawy said he hopes the province continues to expand asymptomatic testing in schools.
“There are a lot of asymptomatic people out there who are infected with this virus and unfortunately until we ramp up our testing capacity and ideally target areas that appear to be harder hit, we won’t really know the extent of the disease that’s out there,” he told CP24 on Monday.
“I think that this was actually an important finding. I don’t think it is one that should create too much alarm amongst people sending their children to school but I hope it is a pilot program that will catch on, especially in other areas that are hard hit.”
2 deaths, 180 COVID-19 cases announced in Manitoba Saturday – Global News
Manitoba public health officials confirm two additional deaths in people with COVID-19 have been reported.
The deaths are a man in his 70s from Southern Health-Santé Sud and a man in his 80s from the Winnipeg health region.
The current five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate is 10.2 per cent provincially and 7 per cent in Winnipeg.
As of 9:30 a.m. Saturday, 180 new cases of the virus have been identified and the total number of lab-confirmed cases in Manitoba has risen to 27,322.
The new cases are in the following regions:
- 10 cases in the Interlake-Eastern health region
- 69 cases in the Northern health region
- eight cases in the Prairie Mountain Health region
- 10 cases in the Southern Health-Santé Sud health region
- 83 cases in the Winnipeg health region.
The data also shows there are 2,986 active cases and 23,575 individuals who have recovered from COVID-19.
There are 122 people in hospital with active COVID-19 as well as 161 people in hospital with COVID-19 who are no longer infectious but continue to require care, for a total of 283 hospitalizations.
COVID-19 cases rising in the north
There are 19 people being treated for COVID-19 in intensive care units, as well as 17 people with COVID-19 who are no longer infectious but continue to require critical care, for a total of 36 ICU patients.
The total number of deaths due to COVID-19 is 761. Due to a data error, one death that had been reported earlier has been removed.
Laboratory testing numbers show 2,043 tests were completed Friday, bringing the total number of lab tests completed since early February 2020 to 450,104.
An outbreak has been declared at Lynn Lake Hospital in northwestern Manitoba. The site has been moved to Critical (red) on the Pandemic Response System.
The outbreak at Seven Oaks General Hospital, 4U4-7 in Winnipeg is now declared over.
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Local epidemiologist Cynthia Carr says while it has been challenging to follow health restrictions, it has made a difference.
“These restrictions and the work we have done together really does matter on the serious of levels. working together we have saved almost 2,000 lives. It might have been 1,700, 1,800 or 1,600 but the reality is it mattered,” she said.
And while our numbers remain steady for now, there are still obstacles in certain regions — particularly the North.
Carr says if the pandemic hasn’t ripped the issue of housing wide open in other areas, she doesn’t know what will.
“This is an ongoing challenge. When I go to a community and do community health assessments and I talk to leadership about health, they won’t say we need a fancy hospital, X-ray machines, etc., one of the first things will be the foundation of housing.”
She says infrastructure is absolutely related to health, and it hasn’t been attended to in our northern communities.
–With files from Anya Nazeravich
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
One of Canada's oldest seniors, at 110 years old, gets COVID-19 vaccine at Surrey care home – Cowichan Valley Citizen
JaHyung Lee, a resident at a Newton care home, received his COVID-19 vaccine at the age of 110.
Amenida Seniors Community said in a news release that residents at the facility received the first dose of their vaccines on Thursday (Jan. 14). JaHyung Lee is one of Canada’s oldest seniors to be inoculated.
The second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will be administered “in the coming weeks.”
“We are extremely lucky that we have received enough supplies to vaccinate all of our residents in care,” said Rosa Park, general manager at Amenida.
“As many of our seniors are elderly and require complex care, we can feel safer knowing that the virus won’t be spreading within our community.”
A reporter with the Now-Leader attended Lee’s 109th birthday in 2019. He was born on Aug. 27, 1910.
Meantime, Fraser Health says it has completed 151 vaccine clinics for long-term care and assisted living in the health region.
Latest COVID update Jan. 16: Sask. administers record-high vaccines – CKOM News Talk Sports
Saskatchewan administered its highest one-day total of COVID-19 vaccinations Friday.
The encouraging news comes as the province also reported two more COVID-related deaths and 270 new cases in its daily update Saturday.
The 2,857 vaccine doses were delivered in the following areas: Saskatoon (893), Prince Albert (857), northeast (426), southeast (285), Regina (267) and the far northwest (129). The far north-central region also administered 53 vaccines on Thursday. Friday’s information wasn’t available in the provincial update. There have now been 16,927 vaccines delivered across Saskatchewan.
An update on incoming vaccines from manufacturer Pfizer was also provided in the media release.
“Due to work to expand its European manufacturing facility, production of the Pfizer vaccine will be impacted for a few weeks,” the release stated.
“Pfizer is temporarily reducing deliveries, potentially by half, to all countries receiving vaccine manufactured at this facility.”
The province reaffirmed that vaccines will continue to be administered according to its priority sequence.
A shipment of 4,900 vaccines arrive from manufacturer Moderna on Friday. Distribution is happening in the central and southeast zones. Poor conditions on Friday delayed the shipment arriving in the far northeast zone until Saturday. Clinics are expected to begin Saturday and continue on Sunday.
Daily COVID-19 cases
The province is reporting a total of 19,985 COVID-19 cases.
Both people who tested positive for COVID-19 and died were from the Regina area. One was reported in the 60-69 age group and one was in the 80-plus age category.
The new cases are located in the Saskatoon (68), northwest (49), Regina (47), southeast (26), north-central (23) far northeast (15), northeast (13), far northwest (10), south-central (six), central-east (five) and far north-central (one) zones. Seven new cases are still pending residence information.
There were an additional 12 cases previously without a location assigned to the north-central (six), far northeast (two), far northwest (one), northwest (one), Saskatoon (one) and southwest (one) zones.
A total of 15,730 people have recovered and 4,043 cases are considered active.
The seven-day average of daily new cases is 311 (25.7 new cases per 100,000 population).
There are 199 people in hospital.
Of the 164 receiving inpatient care: 55 are in Saskatoon, 34 are in Regina, 30 are in the north-central region, 10 are in the northeast, 10 are in the southeast, 10 are in the northwest, seven are in the central-east, three are in the far northwest and one person is hospitalized in each of the far north-central, far northeast, central-west, southwest and south-central zones.
Thirty-five people are in intensive care. Patients are located in Saskatoon (17), Regina (nine), north-central (five), northwest (two), central-east (one) and south-central (one).
There were 3,071 COVID-19 tests processed Friday.
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