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Ontario reports 491 new cases of COVID-19, highest daily increase since early May – CBC.ca

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Ontario reported that the province had 491 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, the highest number since May 2.

Toronto, Peel Region, Ottawa and York Region led the daily case count, according to Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott.

Elliott said in a tweet that there are 137 new cases in Toronto, 131 in Peel Region, 58 in Ottawa and 58 in York Region.

A full 63 per cent of cases are among people under the age of 40.

The province processed more than 42,500 tests on Saturday.

As of Sunday at 10:30 a.m., a total of 2,839 people in Ontario had died of COVID-19, according to provincial figures.

A total of 112 are hospitalized, a number that is on the rise. On Saturday, the province reported that there were 100 people in hospital. 

Of the people in hospital, the province says 28 are in intensive care units and 16 of them are on ventilators. The number of people on ventilators has increased by one since Saturday.

Ontario has a cumulative total of 49,831 cases, of which 42,796 are marked as resolved. 

Rise in new cases ‘of great concern,’ province says

Ivana Yelich, spokesperson for Ontario Premier Doug Ford, said the provincial government is concerned about the increase in the daily case count.

“The rise in cases continues to be of great concern. That is why our government took action to tighten public health measures on private social gatherings as well as restaurants and bars. It’s important to note that the results of these actions will not be seen immediately,” Yelich said on Sunday.

“It is, however, critical that Ontarians continue to do their part in controlling the spread of COVID-19 by following the rules that are in place,” she added.

“We will continue to monitor the situation very closely and act on the public health advice of the Chief Medical Office of Health and the COVID-19 Command Table.”

The tightening of public health measures to slow the spread of the virus took effect in the last 10 days in Ontario.

Ontario’s bars and restaurants, for example, can no longer serve alcohol after 11 p.m. as of this weekend. Strip clubs have also been closed.

As well, private social gatherings across Ontario are now limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors. That limit was imposed on Sept. 19.

In a separate statement, the Ontario health ministry said it is keeping a close eye on the number of hospitalizations and is continuing to build capacity in the health care system.

“We are in the process of rolling out our comprehensive fall preparedness plan, which includes public health measures to prepare the health system for a second wave of COVID-19,” the health ministry said.

A closed sign is visible in the window of MARBL restaurant in downtown Toronto. Toronto Public Health has ordered three King Street West restaurant, including this one, to close as it seeks to protect the public from the spread of COVID-19. (Robert Krbavac/CBC)

Toronto Public Health closes 3 restaurants

In Toronto, where 1,178 have died of the virus as of Friday, Toronto Public Health (TPH) has temporarily closed three downtown restaurants to protect the public from COVID-19.

MARBL, King Taps and Casa Mezcal received orders on Friday night to close. A fourth is being served with an order.

TPH is notifying staff and patrons of two other establishments, Yonge Street Warehouse and Regulars Bar, this weekend that they may have been exposed to COVID-19. Seven cases are linked to Yonge Street Warehouse, while three cases are linked to Regulars Bar.

Individual protective measures matter, health officer says

On Sunday, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said in a statement that, as of Friday, an average of 1,175 cases were being reported daily across Canada over a seven-day period.

She said labs across Canada continue to test at a high rate, with an average of nearly 70,000 people tested daily last week and 1.4 per cent of these testing positive.

“As we head into another week, we need to be vigilant about rising cases and increasing hospitalizations, particularly in areas where cases are increasing most rapidly,” Tam said.

“Surges in cases, leading to increases in hospitalizations can quickly overwhelm public health and healthcare system resources in localized areas, while increasing the likelihood of spread to more areas.”

People wait in a line for COVID-19 testing in Toronto. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said abs across Canada continue to test at a high rate, with an average of nearly 70,000 people tested daily last week. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Tam said every protective measure that Canadians can take matters to lower the overall rate of infection in communities because every person that people encounter brings a “whole network of contacts history with them.”

Reducing the number, duration and closeness of encounters makes a difference, she added.

“The quickest and safest way for Canada to get back on the slow burn is for us all to for us to take every measure during every moment of our day, and always act in a way that can prevent the spread of illness to others,” Tam said.

That means keeping a two metre distance from others outside of individual bubbles, frequent hand washing, wearing a mask where appropriate, limiting the amount of time and number of people in close contact, choosing lower risk settings or situations where public health measures are in place whenever possible.


Still have questions about COVID-19? These CBC News stories will help.

Is another lockdown coming in Ontario? What do we know about the Ford government’s fall plan?

CBC Queen’s Park reporter Mike Crawley obtained a draft copy of the plan

What’s the latest on where I should get tested?

It’s confusing, but here’s an explainer complete with a flow chart

What’s the most recent guidance on mask use?

Reporter Lauren Pelley took a look at what the experts are advising

What should I do about my COVID bubble?

With cases going up, even small gatherings are getting riskier

Who is getting COVID-19?

CBC News crunched the data from across Canada to get the clearest picture possible

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People with dementia among hardest hit by COVID-19 health restrictions – CBC.ca

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Before COVID-19, Lyne Gauthier did her best to keep her husband’s mind from slipping away by organizing activities they had enjoyed together before he was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

She would visit the long term facility where Yves Dessureault, 66, has lived for three years and take him on simple outings.

“We’d go grocery shopping, go out for an ice cream cone,” said Gauthier. Sometimes they would just “listen to music and dance.”

But then the coronavirus hit, and there were no more outings.

There were also no more services like pet therapy or music therapy within the facility due to the pandemic. 

Gauthier says she has watched her husband deteriorate dramatically in the past six months. He’s now considered to be in the late stages of Alzheimer’s.

“I think COVID has really fast-tracked the progression of his symptoms,” she said.

Lyne Gauthier has watched her husband slip further and further away amid restrictions limiting family visits, outings, and therapeutic connections with the outside world. 3:26

Gauthier feels the health rules that curtailed their outings and deprived Dessureault of face-to-face contact robbed him of precious time as a husband, father and grandfather.

At his care home, there is little mingling these days and many residents eat their meals in their rooms.

The social isolation has left him more fragile, both physically and emotionally, said Gauthier.

Since the spring, she says, Dessureault appears more upset and anxious. His balance has gotten worse and even the simplest words have lost their meaning.

“If I want to show him where we’d like to sit, I need to tap the seat and do more gestures,” said Gauthier.

“There is a lot he can’t do anymore.”

Worsening symptoms linked to lockdowns

During the pandemic, many residents in long-term care experienced rapid cognitive decline, increased depression and more behavioural symptoms such as wandering and agitation, said Dr. Isabelle Vedel, a public health physician and associate professor in McGill University’s Department of Family Medicine.

McGill University’s Dr. Isabelle Vedel is leading a research project that will examine the impact of the pandemic on people living with dementia. (McGill University)

There is some preliminary research from the United States and the U.K. suggesting people with dementia were hit the hardest by the virus. 

Not only were they at an increased risk of being infected and of dying from COVID-19, but there were thousands of so-called excess deaths — meaning many more people died than the average for the same period in previous years.

Vedel fears the same will be true in Canada.

“People living in long-term care were extremely affected by the pandemic,” said Vedel. “Eighty per cent of the deaths happened in long-term care in Canada, and we know that approximately 80 per cent of people in long-term care have dementia.”

With funding from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, Vedel is leading a research project in collaboration with Alzheimer’s societies across Canada that will measure the deaths of people with dementia during the pandemic.

It will also examine what impact the disruption of services and access to health care may have had on their lives.

For instance, during the first wave of the pandemic, Quebec feared hospitals would be overrun, so long-term care facilities were asked not to send people to the ER, said Vedel.

“It’s very probable that even though they had acute illnesses, they were not sent to the emergency department, so they didn’t receive the appropriate care they needed.”

Lessons for the 2nd wave

Maintaining services as much as possible during subsequent waves of the virus is paramount, Vedel said.

People with dementia rely on home care, community services, family physicians and caregivers. If there are obstacles to getting these services, people with dementia will decline and fall between the cracks, she said.

“We have to make an extra effort for them and make sure that they can be well cared for during the pandemic,” said Vedel.

She expects the research group will have statistics and recommendations in the spring.

Disruptions, reimposed restrictions

With parts of Canada now firmly in a second wave of the pandemic, all the changing health precautions and disruption can be especially distressing for people with dementia.

In Quebec, for instance, more and more regions are in red zones, where visits are once again limited in long-term care homes and private seniors’ residences. The partial lockdown also means many programs are suspended.

The goal is to limit contacts and keep the virus from sweeping through those facilities as it did in the first wave.

The directive to wear masks or face coverings to slow the spread poses a problem for these patients because it’s harder to read facial expressions, which they rely on to communicate and interact.

Many of the outings Gauthier and her husband enjoyed, like going out for an ice cream, were curtailed due to COVID-19 public health restrictions. (Submitted by Lyne Gauthier)

Overmedication is another problem: As patients get more agitated, more medication is being prescribed, including anti-psychotic drugs to calm them down, said Nouha Ben Gaied, the director of research and development for the Federation of Quebec Alzheimer Societies.

These drugs, “are inappropriate to use for people with dementia and they can cause more harm than benefits” said Ben Gaied.

Ben Gaied hopes Quebec’s health ministry has learned lessons from the first wave.

Nouha Ben Gaied, director of research and development for the Federation of Quebec Alzheimer Societies, said people with dementia are being prescribed more medication to keep them calm during the pandemic. (Dave St-Amant/CBC)

A spokesperson for the ministry said it has introduced measures to better protect this population and reduce the number of excess deaths.

That includes better access to a family doctor and improving the transition between primary care and specialized services, said Marie-Louise Harvey.

The government has also recruited nearly 10,000 new patient attendants, about 7,000 of whom are already working in the system. The rest are still in training.

The province has asked long-term care homes to limit the movement of employees between long-term care homes as much as possible.

Infection control and prevention is also being closely watched. 

Even so, since September, some of the new outbreaks in long-term care homes or private seniors’ residences in Quebec have been in units for people with a cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s or dementia. 

‘He deserves better’

Gauthier’s greatest fear is her husband getting COVID.

She’s concerned about the high number of cases in Quebec, and what will happen to her husband if the partial lockdown is extended beyond the end of the month.

She’s doing everything she can to help her husband connect, though now that his care home is in a red zone, all she can offer are video chats with family, walks on the grounds or jaunts in the car to listen to music.

One of the activities that still makes Dessureault light up, she says, is a visit with his grandchildren — even if it is through a window or on FaceTime. Dessureault loves children, she says, and seeing them brings out his goofy, playful side.

“I find my husband for a few more seconds, a minute. It’s as if my husband is back,” said Gauthier, fighting to hold back tears. “The emotions are there. They connect. It’s just simple.”

Dessureault gets a visit from his grandchildren through the window of his care home. (Submitted by Lyne Gauthier)

She says she knows he’s still there, underneath the disease, but his quality of life has spiralled downward during the pandemic.

“He deserves better,” said Gauthier, who sometimes finds it hard to keep her spirits up.

“As a society, we can do better.”

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At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health – CityNews Edmonton

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CALGARY – Alberta Health said 49 active COVID-19 cases have been linked to a wedding in Calgary earlier this month.

The health agency said the wedding had a large number of Albertans from different households.

Alberta Health spokesman Tom McMillan said aggressive contact tracing is underway to identify anyone who may have been exposed to make sure they are isolating and getting tested.

He did not say how many people attended the wedding and said specifics about individual cases cannot be disclosed because of patient confidentiality.

COVID-19 restrictions implemented by the province state a maximum of 100 people can attend outdoor and indoor seated events, such as
wedding ceremonies, funeral services, movie theatres, indoor arts and culture performances.

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings.

WATCH: Recent rise in numbers due to large social events 

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Active COVID-19 cases in Calgary zone exceed 1,000 – Calgary Herald

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Sixteen of the 70 ICU beds allocated for COVID-19 patients are currently in use in Alberta, which marks 23 per cent of available space.

Due to the rise in case numbers, delayed wait times for test results and an increase in flu and cold symptoms, the province has placed more restrictions on asymptomatic testing.

“We must take further action,” said Hinshaw. “Effective immediately, we will be pressing pause on all asymptomatic testing in those who have no known exposure. This is an important and necessary step to help us reduce testing wait times, get results to Albertans and limit the spread.”

Asymptomatic testing was only available for priority groups before Tuesday’s announcement.

Alberta’s top doctor said Alberta has seen a handful of examples of gatherings gone wrong in recent weeks, adding to the provincial COVID-19 case count.

She noted a Calgary “superspreader” wedding linked to at least 49 cases, a workplace gathering connected to nine cases, and a party where one-third of the attendees have tested positive.

“COVID-19 really does love parties and we need to keep this in mind while planning or attending social events,” said Hinshaw, reminding Albertans to keep gatherings small while following all public health guidance.

There are no immediate plans for the government to implement additional measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 as cases grow, unlike other provinces such as Ontario that have rolled back relaxed directives.

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