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Opposition leaders briefed on alarming rise in COVID-19 cases in Canada – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press


Published Thursday, November 19, 2020 10:06PM EST

OTTAWA – Alarming new projections for the spread of COVID-19 in Canada are expected to forecast a dramatic rise in cases over the next few weeks if Canadians don’t strictly limit their contact with people outside their households.

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam has already warned that Canada is on track to hit more than 10,000 cases per day by early December if current trends continue.

That’s more than double the current daily case count, which is already straining the health care system in some regions.

New federal modelling of the course of the pandemic is to be presented publicly Friday morning.

Sources briefed on the work say the modelling will project a much worse scenario by the end of December – 20,000 cases per day at the current rate of contacts and as much as 60,000 a day if Canadians increase their number of contacts as the holiday season approaches.

The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the modelling before its official release.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave federal opposition leaders an advance look at the numbers Thursday in a confidential briefing from Tam and her deputy, Dr. Howard Njoo.

The Prime Minister’s Office said the purpose of the briefing was to keep opposition leaders in the loop and impress upon them the need to put aside partisanship and join in a common effort to urge Canadians to strictly limit their contacts with people outside their households.

That did not stop Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole from blaming the Trudeau government for the worsening state of affairs.

“What struck me was that 11 months after news about the spread of COVID-19 emerged, after thousands of lives and millions of jobs have been lost, and hundreds of billions of dollars has been added to the national debt, we as a country are worse off than we were at the start of the pandemic,” O’Toole said in a statement after the briefing.

“We are in this position because the government failed to give Canadians the ability to rapidly and frequently test for COVID-19; has failed to tell Canadians how they plan to deliver a vaccine; and failed to be transparent with Canadians about what COVID-19-related information they are using to make decisions that affect lives and jobs.”

O’Toole called for a “real plan to test, trace, and isolate those who are infected” and added that “shutting down the entire country again is simply not a solution.”

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said in a statement that opposition leaders heard during the briefing “the same news Canadians are seeing on their TVs,” referring to leaked news of the updated projections.

“The number of COVID-19 cases is going up across the country and people are worried about what this means for their families and communities,” Singh said.

“We must continue to face this pandemic by doing each our part to flatten the curve. Wear a mask, wash your hands and don’t travel outside of your home unless it is essential.”

Green Leader Annamie Paul told CBC the briefing was “sobering” and that it underscored her call for a co-ordinated national strategy to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet did not attend the briefing. He sent his House leader, Alain Therrien, in his stead.

Tam has said Canadians need to reduce their current rate of contact with others by at least 25 per cent in order to flatten the curve.

And last week, she and Njoo gave a graphic description of the consequences if the trajectory toward more than 10,000 cases per day is not halted.

At the current level of just under 5,000 cases per day, Tam said routine medical procedures are being cancelled, intensive care beds are almost full and health-care workers are exhausted.

“So you can only imagine that if we got to that level (of 10,000), that the pressure on the health-care system will be huge,” she told a news conference in Ottawa on Nov. 13.

“You would definitely not be doing routine surgeries, and that the already exhausted health-care workers will be, you know, extremely stretched,” she said.

Njoo pointed to what happened in northern Italy and New York City last spring, when their health systems were overwhelmed.

“Doctors were having to make a life and death decision in terms of who would be on a ventilator, who wouldn’t. And who wants to be in that position?”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 19, 2020.

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Facebook Bans Debunked Claims About COVID-19 Vaccines – Prairie Public Broadcasting

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Facebook is banning claims about COVID-19 vaccines that have been debunked by public health experts, as governments prepare to roll out the first vaccinations against the virus.

That includes posts that make false claims about how safe and effective the vaccines are, and about their ingredients and side effects.

“For example, we will remove false claims that COVID-19 vaccines contain microchips, or anything else that isn’t on the official vaccine ingredient list,” Facebook’s head of health, Kang-Xing Jin, said in a blog post. “We will also remove conspiracy theories about COVID-19 vaccines that we know today are false: like specific populations are being used without their consent to test the vaccine’s safety.”

The new ban is an expansion of Facebook’s rules against misinformation about the coronavirus that could lead to imminent physical harm. The company said it removed 12 million such posts from Facebook and Instagram between March and October.

The approach to COVID-19 vaccines is a departure from Facebook’s general approach to vaccine misinformation. The company has made false claims about other vaccines less visible on its platform but stopped short of removing them. In October, it banned anti-vaccination ads.

Facebook said it was extending the policy because COVID-19 vaccines will soon be rolled out around the world. The U.K. became the first country to approve a vaccine this week, with the first doses expected to be available next week. Regulators in the U.S. are expected to approve vaccines before the end of the year.

On Monday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company would show users “authoritative information” about vaccines. It’s adding a section to its coronavirus information center — a section of its site that promotes credible sources — with details about how vaccines are tested and approved.

YouTube, owned by Google, and TikTok also have said they will remove false claims about COVID-19 vaccines.

Despite efforts by Facebook and other platforms to curb the spread of hoaxes and conspiracy theories, misinformation about the pandemic has spread widely on social media this year.

Editor’s note: Facebook, Google and TikTok are among NPR’s financial supporters.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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COVID-19 kills 11 more B.C. residents, as hospitalizations return to record level – North Shore News

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While the number of serious cases of COVID-19 in B.C. remains high, with a record 338 people in hospital – 13 more than yesterday – the number of those people in intensive care units fell by four overnight, to 76.

Deaths continue to mount, with 11 more individuals succumbing to the virus overnight, making the death toll 492, since the first COVID-19-related death in the province on March 9.

There were 711 new cases identified, for a total of 36,132 since the first case in B.C. was detected on January 28. 

“Currently, 10,957 people are under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases and 25,658 people who tested positive have recovered,” provincial health officer Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a joint statement. 

They broke the newly identified cases down by health region, as follows: 
• 143 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
• 427 in Fraser Health;
• 10 in Island Health;
• 81 in Interior Health; and
• 50 in Northern Health.

While Fraser Health remains the hot spot in the province for infections, all regions are battling outbreaks. Northern Health’s 50 new infections is a high number for that remote region, and more than double the 23 cases that were identified yesterday. 

Two new outbreaks at health care facilities are at Peace Arch Hospital Foundation Lodge in Surrey, and at Richmond Hospital in Richmond.

The outbreak at Youville Residence in Vancouver is over.

Dix yesterday made clear that despite the high number of people in hospital, scheduled surgeries are being done.

Scheduled surgeries are sometimes referred to as “elective” or “non-urgent” surgeries, although no one elects to have surgery if it is not necessary. 

Since the B.C. government restarted these surgeries on May 18, there have been:
• 49,100 completed in Fraser Health;
• 32,919 completed in Interior Health;
• 10,458 completed in Northern Health;
• 42,516 completed in Vancouver Coastal Health;
• 37,543 completed in Island Health; and
• 7,266 completed in the Provincial Health Services Authority.

“There have been some questions about acute care capacity in recent days,” Dix. said. “In terms of our base bed capacity, it’s at 87.8%.”

When Dix added what he called “surge beds,” which would be extra beds added to the system, the province’s hospitals are now at 70.6% capacity. 

“That’s the level of beds that are occupied overall in hospitals,” he said. “Just to put that in context, last year at this time, [bed occupancy] was at 103.5% of base-bed capacity.”

Dix said ICU base-bed capacity is at 76%, although when new beds that have been added are included, ICU wards across the province are at 54.6% capacity. 

Dix has noted that what is needed in addition to beds is staff, and that this is one of the stresses in the system. 

There are now nine hospitals in the province with active outbreaks:
• University Hospital of Northern B.C. in Prince George.
• West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni;
• Saanich Peninsula Hospital in Saanichton;
• Burnaby Hospital in Burnaby;
• Langley Memorial Hospital in Langley;
• Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver;
• Richmond Hospital in Richmond;
• Ridge Meadows Hospital in Maple Ridge; and
• Surrey Memorial Hospital in Surrey.

In total, there are 56 seniors’ living facilities that have active outbreaks, and below is a full breakdown by health region.

There are 14 active outbreaks at seniors’ facilities in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, and they include:
• Arbutus Care Centre in Vancouver;
• Banfield Pavilion, in Vancouver;
• Revera Capilano Care Centre in West Vancouver;
• Columbus Residence in Vancouver;
• German Canadian Care Home in Vancouver;
• Lakeview Care Centre in Vancouver;
• Little Mountain Place in Vancouver;
• Renfrew Care Centre in Vancouver;
• Royal Ascot Care Centre in Vancouver;
• Royal Arch Masonic Home long-term care facility in Vancouver;
• St. Judes Anglican Home in Vancouver;
• Three Links Care Centre long-term care facility in Vancouver;
• Villa Cathay Care Home in Vancouver; and
• Windermere Care Centre in Vancouver.

The 35 outbreaks at seniors’ facilities in the ​Fraser Health region now include:
• Agassiz Seniors Community in Agassiz;
• Agecare Harmony Court Estates in Burnaby;
• Agecare Court Estates in Burnaby;
• Al Hogg Pavilion in White Rock;
• Amenida Seniors Community in Surrey;
• Amica White Rock in White Rock;
• Baillie House long-term care home in Maple Ridge;
• Belvedere Care Centre in Coquitlam;
• CareLife Fleetwood in Surrey;
• Chartwell Langley Gardens in Langley;
• Fellburn Care Centre long-term care facility in Burnaby;
• Finnish Manor in Burnaby;
• Fleetwood Villa Retirement Residence in Surrey;
• Fort Langley Seniors Community in Fort Langley;
• George Derby Centre in Burnaby;
• Good Samaritan Delta View Care Centre 2 long-term care facility in Delta;
• Harrison Pointe retirement home in Langley;
• Harrison at Elim Village in Surrey;
• Hawthorne Seniors Care Community long-term care in Port Coquitlam;
• Hawthorne Seniors Care Community assisted living in Port Coquitlam;
• Hollyrood Manor long-term care home in Maple Ridge;
• Jackman Manor in Langley Township;
• Laurel Place long-term care facility in Surrey;
• Menno Home in Abbotsford;
• Morgan Place Care Society in Surrey;
• Northcrest Care Centre in Delta;
• Peace Arch Hospital Foundation Lodge in Surrey;
• PICS Assisted Living in Surrey;
• Queen’s Park Care Centre in New Westminster;
• Sunset Manor in Chilliwack;
• Tabor Home in Abbotsford;
• The Residence at Clayton Heights in Surrey;
• The Residence in Mission;
• Valley Haven Care Home in Chilliwack; and
• White Rock Senior Village in White Rock.

There are three outbreaks at seniors’ homes in Northern Health:
• North Peace Seniors Housing Society buildings in Fort St. John;
• Rotary Manor Dawson Creek in Dawson Creek; and
• Gateway House long-term care home in Prince George.

Two outbreaks are at seniors’ living facilities in the Island Health region: Tsawaayuss-Rainbow Gardens in Port Alberni and Veterans Memorial Lodge at Broadmead in Victoria.

The Interior Health region has two seniors’ facility outbreaks, at Mountainview Village in Kelowna and Sun Pointe Village in Kelowna.

gkorstrom@biv.com

@GlenKorstrom

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Manitoba extends state of emergency by 30 days – CTV News Winnipeg

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WINNIPEG —
The provincial government announced on Friday it would be extending Manitoba’s state of emergency by another 30 days.

The extension will take place on Sunday, December 6 at 4 p.m.

“Our province is constantly adapting to this evolving situation and taking the necessary steps to help flatten the curve and reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our communities and our health-care system,” said Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler in a news release. “Manitobans need to work together to protect their families, friends and themselves.”

Manitoba first entered a state of emergency on March 20. Since then, the province has extended it eight times.

The news comes after Chief Provincial Public Health Office Dr. Brent Roussin announced another 320 new cases of COVID-19 and nine new deaths.

So far, 18,069 Manitobans have been infected with COVID-19—9,172 cases are considered active, leaving 8,535 people listed as recovered, although this figure could be higher due to a backlog in data entry.  

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