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Ontario relaxes school, daycare screening guidelines –



TORONTO — Parents of students with the sniffles or a headache will no longer have to line up for hours to get their children tested at COVID-19 assessments centres under Ontario’s newly amended screening guidelines for schools and daycares.

Dr. Barbara Yaffe, the province’s associate chief medical officer of health, said students with either of those symptoms can return to school after 24 hours if they otherwise feel fine. She said those are only symptoms in about 17 per cent of COVID-19 cases among children, so the change seemed prudent.

“There’s all sorts of other causes of a runny nose, there’s other viruses circulating in the community,” she said. “The kid might have just been outside and got a runny nose.”

Previously, the government had asked children with either symptom to stay home until they received a negative test result or other medical diagnosis, or were symptom-free for 24 hours. Now kids can return to class even with one of those symptoms after a day.

Ontario is also removing abdominal pain or conjunctivitis from its screening list.

Children with a fever or cough will still be required to stay home, consult with a doctor and receive an alternative diagnosis or a negative COVID-19 test.

Ontario’s change comes after British Columbia dropped 10 symptoms, including a runny nose, from their screening guidance last month.

NDP education critic Marit Stiles slammed the Ontario government for its changing guidelines, saying the shifts are giving parents “whiplash.”

“Parents who spent hours and hours in line this week with their little ones waiting for a test … have a right to be frustrated at the horrible lack of clarity on when kids need a test, and when they should return to school or daycare,” she said.

Meanwhile, Ontario also announced Thursday that it will give pay raises to personal support workers throughout the health-care system in a bid to recruit and retain them during the pandemic.

Premier Doug Ford said about 147,000 workers in long-term care, hospitals, and community care are eligible for the increase. Personal support workers in long-term care and community care will be eligible for a $3 an hour pay increase, while personal support workers in hospitals will see a $2 an hour pay hike.

The temporary increase begins Thursday and will expire in March 2021, costing the government $461 million. Ford said he has not ruled out continuing the pay raise next year.

“As we enter the second wave of COVID-19, we need to stabilize our PSW workforce,” he said. “We need to make sure that when our loved ones need care, whether at home in a hospital, or in a long-term care, there’s a PSW there to support them.”

Advocates in the long-term care and home care sectors have said low pay has contributed to personal support worker shortages before and during the pandemic.

The secretary-treasurer of Canadian Union of Public Employees said the announcement was a good first step, but more must be done to address working conditions and compensation for personal support workers.

“Wages were always only one part of the problem,” Candace Rennick said in a statement “What about confronting the disgraceful reality of part-time work, lack of benefits and access to paid sick days, and adequate of hours of care to ensure and enhance quality of life?”

Ontario reported 538 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday and three new deaths from the illness. The majority of the cases were reported in the Greater Toronto Area and Ottawa.

In total, 162 people are hospitalized due to COVID-19, including 36 in intensive care.

The province also reported 65 new COVID-19 cases related to schools, including at least 29 among students. Those bring the number of schools with a reported case to 307 out of Ontario’s 4,828 publicly funded schools.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 1, 2020.

Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press

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COVID-19: Central zone active cases up Monday – Ponoka News – Ponoka News



Alberta confirmed 1,440 COVID-19 cases from over the weekend and seven additional deaths.

The cases are: 364 on Friday, 572 on Saturday and 504 on Sunday. The Saturday case number is another record for the province.

That’s identifying, on average, 480 COVID-19 cases over the weekend, said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health.

She said one of the challenges is to find a balance between minimizing the risk of COVID-19 and minimizing the risk of harms of restrictions.

“This requires us to keep the spread of COVID-19 manageable. We’ve now crossed a tipping point and are losing the balance we’ve been seeking,” said Hinshaw.

The government imposed new temporary mandatory limits Monday – of 15 people – at most social gatherings for the City of Calgary and Edmonton.

In total, 118 people in Alberta are in hospitals with 16 in intensive care.

The total number of active cases in the province sat at 4,477 Monday afternoon up 826 from Friday’s 3,651.

The number of active cases in the central zone jumped to 162 from Friday’s 126. There are three people in hospital in the local zone with none in intensive care.

To date, there have been 953 COVID-19 cases confirmed in the local zone with 783 recoveries.

The deaths were in Edmonton and Calgary zones. The virus-death toll is at 307.

The City of Red Deer’s active cases sits at 39 up from Friday’s 31.

A letter was sent Monday to families alerting them of a positive case of the virus at Gateway Christian School in Red Deer.

On Monday, Red Deer’s Hunting Hills High School was on province’s watch list.

Red Deer County had 10 active cases Monday afternoon, two in Town of Sylvan Lake, six in Lacombe County, one in the City of Lacombe, 45 in Ponoka County, two in County of Wetaskiwin, and 11 in City of Wetaskiwin.

There were two active cases in the Town of Olds, three in Clearwater County, five in Kneehill County, four in Camrose County, six in City of Camrose and one in Town of Drumheller.

There are no active cases in Mountain View County, Starland County and County of Stettler.

One of the challenges of the increasing active case numbers is it creates pressure on COVID-19 response including contact-tracing, said Hinshaw.

She said Alberta is also challenged between polarizing views on the virus: on one hand “we have to drive to zero cases” and on another “COVID is a mild illness for most so we should let it spread freely and pursue herd immunity.”

“COVID is a novel disease that is not just the flu,” Hinshaw said. “It has the ability to overwhelm our health system and weaken essential services if we let it do so.”

She encouraged Albertans to maintain respectful dialogue and to not let COVID-19 divide the province.

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Mandatory gathering restrictions return to Edmonton, Calgary as Alberta sets new single-day COVID-19 record | Watch News Videos Online –



There were 1,440 new cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in Alberta over the weekend. That prompted Dr. Deena Hinshaw to re-introduce limits of 15 people or less at social gatherings, saying we have now “crossed a tipping point.” Julia Wong has the details from Monday’s health update.

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St. Albert's COVID-19 active case count hits 124 – St. Albert TODAY



The number of St. Albertans currently diagnosed with COVID-19 grew to 124 cases over the weekend, marking the first time the city’s active case count has risen above 100.

This represents an increase of 33 people from Friday, Oct. 23. A total of 269 St. Albertans have been confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 to date. Of those, 143 people have recovered. Two people have died.

The province reported 1,440 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, including a record 572 cases reported on Saturday. With this increase, Alberta announced on Monday new mandatory limits on gatherings of up to 15 people in Edmonton and Calgary. 

“I don’t ask that you fear COVID-19, but that you respect it. COVID is a novel disease that is not just the flu – it has the ability to overwhelm our health system and weaken essential services if we let it do so,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health, during Monday’s update. 

“Respecting COVID-19 means taking public health advice seriously, and not only taking care of ourselves, but also our communities by preventing transmission,”

There are currently 4,477 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta. Of those, 2,179 active cases are recorded in the Edmonton zone. To date, 20,949 Albertans have recovered from COVID-19.

There are 118 people in hospital due to COVID-19, including 16 in intensive care. There were seven additional deaths reported since Oct. 23.

There are 276 active cases and 1,306 recovered cases at continuing care facilities. Of those, 186 residents have died.

Over the last two weeks in Edmonton and Calgary, social gatherings made up just 15 per cent of all outbreaks, but almost a third of all outbreak-related cases, Hinshaw said. Meanwhile, workplace outbreaks made up about 15 per cent of outbreaks and outbreak-related cases. 

Just six per cent of all COVID-19 cases in those aged 5 to 19 since Sept. 1 have been acquired at school, Hinshaw said. This indicates schools are not a main driver of community transmission, but rising community transmission is resulting in more school exposures, she said. 

Hinshaw said the province is in a “crucial” stage right now to reduce the rate of growth of COVID-19 cases. 

“You have heard me say many times that we need to achieve a balance between minimizing the risk of COVID-19 and minimizing the risk of harms of restrictions,” she said.  

“This requires us to keep the spread of COVID-19 manageable. We have now crossed a tipping point and are losing the balance we have been seeking. This weekend’s COVID-19 numbers tell the story clearly. We identified on average 480 cases of COVID-19 per day over the weekend.”


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