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Ontario reports 721 new COVID-19 cases despite testing drop

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Ontario reported 721 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, despite a drop in the number of tests being processed daily across the province.

Ontario’s network of community, commercial and hospital labs processed just 32,200 tests on Tuesday, notably fewer than the number of tests completed daily as the province worked to clear a backlog that peaked at around 92,000. The testing backlog currently sits at 26,558.

The number of daily tests completed also falls far short of the province’s goal of processing 50,000 tests per day by mid-October.

According to a news release issued on Oct. 2, Ontario said it was taking “longer-term actions” to increase the province’s testing capacity so people could get their results faster.

The province also set a goal of processing 68,000 tests by mid-November.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, meanwhile, applauded the province’s testing efforts.

“We’re kicking everyone’s butt on testing,” he said. “We’re doing an incredible job.”

“We had a backlog, we were able to get through that hump.”

Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health Barbara Yaffe said the province’s seven-day positivity rate average sits at 2.2 per cent, a figure she calls “worrisome” and likely the result of fewer tests being completed.

On Wednesday, the positivity rate increased by 0.4 percent and now sits at three per cent.

“It also indicates that we see transmission in the community,” Yaffe said at a press conference Wednesday.

Ontario reports no new deaths

Health Minister Christine Elliott says Wednesday’s new cases include 270 in Toronto, 170 in Peel Region and 79 in York Region.

Tighter restrictions were imposed on Toronto and Peel Region as well as Ottawa on Friday in a bid to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Wednesday’s new cases bring Ontario’s provincial total to 61,413. Of those, 783 were marked resolved in today’s update. On Tuesday, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, suggested the province’s COVID-19 cases may be “plateauing,” even with the seven-day average showing a steady increase. You can see those comments in the video below:

 

Dr. David Williams made the comments on Oct. 14, despite the 7-day average in new daily cases showing a steady increase. 0:51

Ontario’s official death toll remains unchanged from Tuesday and sits at 3,017.

The number of patients in Ontario hospitals with confirmed cases continues to rise and currently sits at 231.

Those requiring intensive care also increased, from 60 on Tuesday to 64 today, and the number on ventilators increased by one to 35.

The average daily number of new cases of the illness continued its steep climb and is now at 781.1.

Meanwhile, other Ontario public health units with double-digit increases include:

  • Hamilton: 41
  • Ottawa: 39
  • Waterloo Region: 23
  • Durham Region: 22
  • Halton Region: 21
  • Eastern Ontario: 20

Asked Wednesday if Ontario will consider imposing stricter measures in regions with increasing COVID-19 cases — notably Hamilton and York regions — Yaffe said that is something health officials will consider this week.

“The public health measures team is meeting again later this week and they will be considering the data for all of the health units in Ontario and whether any changes need to be made for any of them,” she said.

 

Someone walks past an empty storefront in Toronto on Oct. 13. Ontario is reporting 721 new cases on Wednesday, the majority of which are concentrated in Toronto, Peel Region and York Region. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

 

The bulk of the new cases reported Wednesday are among those under the age of 60.

All of the figures used in this story are found in the Ministry of Health’s daily update, which includes data from up until 4 p.m. the previous day. The number of cases for any particular region on a given day may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit, which often avoid lag times in the provincial system.

WATCH | Ford speaks about business closures in COVID-19 hot spots: 

 

When asked Wednesday why certain businesses in hot spots have been forced to close, including gyms, Ford said COVID-19 has created a ‘lousy, lousy situation.’ 0:44

Outings on hold at long-term care homes in hot spots

Wednesday’s numbers come as the provincial government announces new restrictions at long-term care homes in three of the province’s hot spots.

As of Oct. 16, short-term and temporary absences for social or personal reasons will not be allowed at long-term care homes in Toronto, Ottawa and Peel Region.

 

On Sept. 29, Premier Doug Ford announced new changes to visiting rules that would take effect in long-term care in areas with high community spread of COVID-19. (Carlos Osorio/The Canadian Press)

 

This comes after new restrictions took effect on Oct. 5, limiting visitors at long-term care homes in these areas staff, essential visitors and essential caregivers only.

“We recognize these changes may be difficult for the residents and families affected,” Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, minister of long-term care, said in a statement Wednesday.

“But our priority has to be the safety and well-being of the residents and staff in Ontario’s long-term care homes.”

A full list of impacted long-term care homes can be found here.

Ontario to decide which long-term care homes will receive assistance

The province is also in the works to decide which of Ontario’s long-term care homes will receive assistance from the Canadian Red Cross amid the second wave of the pandemic.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Long-Term Care said Tuesday the province will be finalizing details of the deployment over the coming days.

On Sunday, the federal government announced it had approved a request from Ontario to send the Red Cross to seven long-term care facilities in Ottawa.

As of Tuesday evening, CBC News estimates that there were active COVID-19 outbreaks in more than 120 long-term care homes in Canada’s hardest-hit provinces alone: Ontario, Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia.

That upward trend is cause for rising concern among long-term care residents and families and health experts, who are hoping to avoid the same lockdowns implemented in the spring.

At Wednesday’s press conference, Elliott said the province continues to remain “vigilant” in testing at long-term case homes across the province.

Ontario to hire hundreds more contact tracers

Meanwhile, health officials say they are continuing to recruit new contact tracers and case managers to track the spread of COVID-19.

The province has hired 100 new contact tracers, with 500 additional recruits expected to be hired by mid-November. Those new hires should bring Ontario’s total to just under 4,000.

“With these additional hires, we will have hundreds more boots on the ground to support contact tracing throughout the province, which is an essential weapon in our fight against COVID-19,” Ford said in a statement Wednesday.

Health officials also continue to urge residents of Ontario to download the COVID Alert contact notification that can tell them whether they have been near someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 over the previous two weeks.

Elliott said more than four million Canadians have downloaded the app.

Nearly 1,000 Ontarians with confirmed COVID-19 cases have used the app to send anonymous alerts to their close contacts, Elliott added.

Source:- CBC.ca

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39% of Canadians have 'serious problem' with how police interact with people of colour: poll – CBC.ca

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Nearly two in five Canadians believe there is a serious problem with the way police forces interact with Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) communities across the country, according to a new poll.

The Angus Reid survey Defend or Defund?, which polled 5,005 adult Canadians, also found that nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) agree systemic racism is a serious problem, and almost three-quarters (73 per cent) say police in Canada interact inappropriately with Black, Indigenous and people of colour at least some of the time.

When Canadians were asked which answer reflects their feelings about how police interact with non-white people on a national level, the results showed:

  • 39 per cent felt there was a serious problem.
  • 34 per cent said it was sometimes a problem.
  • 15 per cent said there was no problem.
  • 12 per cent weren’t sure.

But fewer Canadians see the way police treat non-white people in their province as a serious problem, and the number drops again when asked about their own communities.

When Canadians were asked the same question about community policing, the results showed:

  • 27 per cent felt there was a serious problem.
  • 27 per cent said it was sometimes a problem.
  • 27 per cent said there was no problem.
  • 19 per cent weren’t sure.

The poll found a significant difference in views between urban and rural areas. (Angus Reid Institute)

Urban vs. rural

The survey found there is a clear divide on the issue based on whether someone lives in an urban or rural area. 

Those outside of major cities were half as likely to say there was a serious problem with how police interact with Canadians of colour in their communities: Almost 30 per cent of urban respondents believe there is a serious problem, while only 14 per cent of rural respondents feel that way. Two in five of those polled in rural areas don’t see a problem at all. 

Breaking down the results between major urban centres in Canada, the survey showed a greater proportion of residents in the Greater Toronto Area were concerned about police interaction with non-white people than in western cities.

  • In the GTA, 41 per cent said it’s a serious problem;
  • In Winnipeg, 36 per cent;
  • In Montreal, 35 per cent;
  • In Vancouver, 29 per cent;
  • In Edmonton, 24 per cent;
  • In Calgary, 23 per cent.

Protesters in Toronto on Aug. 29 call for the defunding of police services across the country. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Topical issues within policing

The poll also explored viewpoints on several topical policing issues in Canada, including systemic racism, use of force and police funding.

It found that 28 per cent of Canadians agree there is systemic racism within the RCMP, specifically. And 27 per cent of Canadians said that police are too quick to use force to solve a problem.

Amid national and international outcry over violence and death at the hands of the police, there have been calls to defund the police. In the poll, 25 per cent of Canadians agree there is too much funding going to police forces and that it should be reduced. The survey found 38 per cent of Canadians believed funding levels were just right.

The online poll was conducted from Aug. 26 to Sept. 1, 2020, and carries +/- 1.5 percentage points margin of error 19 times out of 20.

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Anand says Conservative COVID-19 motion could endanger Canada's ability to procure vaccines, PPE – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
Canada’s relationships with companies supplying protective gear and possible COVID-19 vaccines will be endangered if the latest Conservative request for what could be thousands of pages of pandemic documents is passed, says Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand.

However, the federal Conservatives were quick to balk at this assertion, insisting their demands are entirely legitimate and necessary. 

If this latest Conservative opposition day motion passes, Canadians could have access to hundreds if not thousands of pages of internal health-focused policy documents related to the federal government’s COVID-19 response so far, as part of a health committee study on the Liberals’ response to the pandemic to-date.

In a Monday morning press conference Anand argued that passing the motion as drafted would undermine ongoing contract negotiations and threaten Canada’s ability to procure future COVID-19 supplies and could dissuade leading medical firms from doing business in this country, in a final attempt to convince opposition parties to vote down the motion.

“If this motion passes, it is my grave concern that those contracts are at risk, those negotiations are at risk, and suppliers will then as a result be hesitant to contract with the federal government. And that chill on our supplier relationships then undermines and perhaps negates our ability to procure additional PPE, buy additional vaccines, and additional rapid test kits,” Anand said.

“What is on the table here is the lives of Canadians. That’s the end goal of our procurements, that is what we are trying to protect… These procurements did not happen overnight. They were not easy. It was an incredibly difficult summer, and we managed to come through it with these procurements for Canadians. It hurts my heart to think that they would be jeopardized if this motion passes,” Anand said.

On the heels of Anand’s press conference, sponsor of the motion Conservative MP and health critic Michelle Rempel Garner called the minister’s remarks “hyperbolic” and “fear-mongering,” and said if the Liberals have genuine concerns there are parliamentary avenues to pursue changes to the proposal. 

“These are pieces of information that the Canadian public needs to know to have stability, these are reasonable questions for Parliament to ask,” Rempel Garner said. “When you’re seeing the numbers of COVID cases this weekend, this motion needs to pass. I mean that’s even more evidence to me that Parliament needs to be looking at a calm, rational questioning of the government’s approach to this pandemic which is what this motion is designed to do.” 

From the moment it was proposed, the Liberals have rejected the motion, stating that not only was it a cumbersome request, but it would take department resources off the day-to-day response to the still-surging COVID-19 pandemic. The Liberals have also said that they feel they have been transparent in regularly updating Canadians on progress with procurements and on pursuing new testing and treatment options. 

“This is not about politics. As we are in the middle of the second wave, and the number of COVID cases continues to increase, this is not the time for this motion to be passed. This is not the time to threaten and weaken our relationships with our suppliers, on whom Canadians’ health and safety depends,” she said, adding that she agrees that MPs should study the federal COVID-19 response but it shouldn’t include this level of disclosure.

If the vote on Monday afternoon goes as anticipated, it’s set to pass despite the Liberals’ objections as the Bloc Quebecois and the New Democrats have voiced their support for the motion. However, it’s possible these recent concerns could prompt a change of position or, at least, spark a push for amendments to the motion.

STAKEHOLDERS ‘VERY’ CONCERNED

Over the last few days stakeholders have been speaking out about concerns they have with the release of the information the Conservatives are calling for.

On Friday, in letters to the government from the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME) and the federal vaccine task force voiced their fears that if the disclosures include confidential, proprietary, or sensitive business information is made public it will have “very” serious negative impacts on the work and procurements currently underway. 

In one letter, CME President Dennis Darby said many Canadian producers who re-tooled to help supply the country with much-needed personal protective equipment did so “under the assumption that any shared sensitive business information would be kept confidential.”

“The desire to now publish this information undermines the efforts put into the response by manufacturers and could do irreparable harm to Canada’s manufacturing businesses and international reputation as a good place to do business. Simply put, if companies cannot trust that their information will be kept confidential, a chill will set in on private enterprise seeking out government procurement contracts generally. We must avoid this scenario at all costs,” Darby said in a letter that was also sent to Conservative and NDP critics.

Major pharmaceutical company Pfizer has also joined the list of those speaking out against the Conservative motion. In a letter to Health Canada officials sent over the weekend, Pfizer Canada President Cole Pinnow said he is “deeply concerned with the implications and likely unintended consequences should this motion receive the support of enough parliamentarians.”

Pinnow said that the vetting process to release these documents “could interfere with contractual negotiations.”

Pfizer Canada is calling on MPs to consider amending the motion to include stronger language to safeguard scientific and commercially-sensitive information, and to explicitly direct the parliamentary law clerk who would be doing any redactions, to consult any impacted third parties about the information being released, as is standard under current access to information procedures. 

WHAT’S BEING REQUESTED?

Among the information the motion would compel departments to turn over:

  • The approval process, procurement plans and protocol for distribution related to rapid and at-home testing as well as vaccines;
  • federal public health guidelines and the data being used to inform them, including current long-term care facility COVID-19 protocols as well as the Public Health Agency of Canada’s communication strategy;
  • the availability of therapeutics and treatment devices for Canadians diagnosed with COVID-19 as well as the availability of personal protective equipment;
  • the government’s progress in evaluating pre- and post-arrival rapid testing for travellers as well as the impact of delaying the closure of Canada’s borders;
  • the development, efficacy and use of data related to the government’s COVID Alert application as well as the government’s contact tracing protocol; and
  • Canada’s level of preparedness to respond to another pandemic.

The motion calls on the government to disclose a host of emails, documents, notes, and other records from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Privy Council Office, Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, as well as from cabinet ministers’ offices since mid-March related to the COVID-19 response as well as related to discussions with the World Health Organization.

The current limitation on the request only excludes personal privacy information and national security concerns.

Further, the Conservatives want the study to start within a week and the government to provide “comprehensive” responses to all of the above issues within a month, a compromise from the initial 15-day window proposed.

And, once the documents are submitted, the committee would have the ability to call a slate of cabinet ministers to testify, for three hours each.  

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2,145 more coronavirus cases confirmed as Canadian total pushes past 215,000 – Global News

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Canada added 2,145 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus to its nationwide tally on Sunday, along with 24 more deaths.

So far, 215,884 people in Canada have tested positive for the virus, while the country’s death toll stands at 9,946. Since the pandemic began, 181,429 people have recovered after falling ill and more than 11.1 million tests have been administered.

Read more:
Quebec reaches more than 100,000 total cases of COVID-19

Sunday’s numbers represent a partial update on the pandemic because B.C., Alberta, P.E.I. and the territories only provide new figures on weekdays.

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said the latest national data showed Canada was averaging 2,488 newly confirmed cases and 74,719 tests conducted per day, Of those tested, she said 3.1 per cent resulted in a positive diagnosis.

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“Outbreaks continue to contribute to COVID-19 spread in Canada,” Tam said in a statement.

“These vary in size from just a few cases to larger clusters occurring in a range of settings including long term care and assisted living facilities, schools, congregate living settings, industrial work settings and large social gatherings.”


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In Quebec — the country’s viral epicentre — health officials reported 879 new cases of COVID-19, tipping the provincial total past 100,000.

They added 11 more people had died, moving the number of deaths in the province up to 6,143.

As of Sunday, 84,828 people residing in the province had recovered and more than 2.9 million COVID-19 tests had been administered.

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Ontario health officials detected 1,042 more infections of the virus, setting a new single-day record, and said seven more people had died.

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Since the pandemic began, the province has confirmed 70,373 cases of COVID-19 and 3,093 deaths.

More than 4.9 million tests for the virus have been conducted while 60,160 people are in recovery.

In the wake of the province’s grim milestone, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott urged Canadians to follow public health guidelines and reduce the curve in a series of posts on Twitter.

“We all need to do our part to #StopTheSpread of #COVID19,” she tweeted.

Sixty more people were diagnosed with COVID-19 in Saskatchewan, bringing the province’s national number to 2,729. So far, 25 people in the province have died from the virus, 2,085 have recovered and 247,909 tests have been administered by provincial health authorities. Twenty five people are in hospital and 619 cases are active.

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The number of active cases and hospitalizations are at their highest levels seen in the province.

Read more:
Saskatchewan reports 60 new cases as hospitalizations hit an all-time high

Scott Moe, who is seeking reelection as premier this week, said during a campaign stop on Saturday that the spread of the coronavirus could be curbed without having to resort to shutdowns.

“We will not have to have an economy-wide shutdown. We understand the virus much better,” he said.


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In Manitoba, health authorities said four more people had died and 161 new cases of COVID-19 were detected. Since the start of the pandemic, the province has reported 4,249 cases and 54 deaths.

By Sunday, 2,142 people had recovered after falling ill and officials conducted 240,639 tests.

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Two more COVID-19-related deaths were recorded in New Brunswick on Sunday.

“I extend my deepest sympathies to the family and friends of the individuals, as well as to all of those in the Campbellton-Restigouche and Moncton regions,” chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell said in a statement.

“Kindness and compassion, along with strict adherence to two-metre distancing, and mask use are how we will get through this together.”

Read more:
4 COVID-19 deaths in Manitoba, 161 new cases Sunday, 77 hospitalized

The province also reported two new cases of COVID-19, for a total of 328 confirmed infections and six deaths. So far, 96,747 tests have been administered and 257 of the province’s confirmed cases are considered resolved.

Newfoundland and Labrador reported one more case of the virus on Sunday, bringing its total to 280. The case is tied to travel, officials said.

Among the provinces that provided updates on Saturday, Nova Scotia was the only one that did not see any new cases. The cumulative total stands at 1,110 infections, only six of which are currently active.

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