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Ottawa's top doctor urges people to reconsider weekend plans as Ontario pauses social bubbles – CTV News Ottawa

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OTTAWA —
Ottawa’s top doctor is urging people to reconsider weekend plans with people outside their households, including not going to bars and restaurants with friends.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches’s renewed plea for people to limit their social contacts came hours before Ontario put a pause on social circles for residents across the province.

Dr. Etches asked residents Friday to limit their social contacts to help limit the spread of novel coronavirus and take pressure off our health care system.

“Please, if you have plans to gather with friends or acquaintances this weekend, I’m asking you to reconsider,” she said, while warning that Ottawa’s health care system is in “crisis” due to COVID-19.

“Our health care system, our school system, our economy, our loved ones are all counting on you.”

Ottawa set a one-day record with 142 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Friday.

Later Friday, the Ontario government announced in a news release it’s “pausing social circles and advising that all Ontarians allow close contact only with those living in their own household and maintain two metres physical distancing from everyone else.”

Ontario’s COVID-19 guidelines had allowed residents to create 10-person social circles, which could include people outside their household.

Earlier this week, Dr. Etches asked residents to limit close contacts to those in their own household, including for Thanksgiving dinner. On Friday, she said residents should not be going to bars or restaurants with people who aren’t in their household.

“The most important action is to limit our close contact to our households, and that includes when we go out to bars and restaurants.”

Coun. Keith Egli, the chair of Ottawa’s board of health, also asked people to limit their unnecessary trips out of their home.

“It’s time to get back to basics. The best way to beat COVID-19 is to stop it from spreading in the first place and we can do that by diligently practicing the public health measures that we all know so well,” said Egli.

“Don’t make unnecessary trips outside your home, stay two metres away from people outside your household, wash your hands frequently and don’t touch your face except with freshly washed hands, stay home if you’re sick and wear a mask if you are able.”

Coun. Egli clarified his comments, saying, “There are things you need to do and there are things that are more of a want.”

Egli notes people need to get groceries, visit the pharmacies or drive their children. If you go to a restaurant or a movie, Egli says Ottawa Public Health recommends doing that with members of your household only.

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Record 1440 new COVID cases in Alberta this weekend – Lethbridge News Now

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To combat the surge in cases in the province’s two largest cities, a new mandatory 15-person limit is in effect on all social gatherings in the City of Calgary and City of Edmonton.

The South Health Zone saw another 73 cases this weekend with 37 in Lethbridge, 10 in Lethbridge County, nine in Brooks, five in the County of Warner, three in the County of Newell, two in the M.D. of Taber, and one each in Cardston County, County of Forty Mile, Cypress County, and the Crowsnest Pass.

255 infections are currently active in the South Health Zone including 161 in Lethbridge.

“We have now crossed a tipping point and are losing the balance we are seeking,” warned Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw.

To deal with the influx of cases in the Edmonton Zone, up to 30 per cent of non-urgent surgeries in the area are being postponed until further notice.

Seven additional COVID-19 deaths were confirmed with four in the Edmonton Zone and three in the Calgary Zone. 307 Albertans have lost their lives as a result of the virus.

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

Provincially, 118 patients are currently hospitalized and 16 have been admitted to intensive care units.

1,744,042 tests have been completed among 1,245,294 different Albertans.

More details to come.

The regional breakdown for COVID-19 in Alberta is as follows:

  • Calgary zone – 11,345 cases, 1,549 active
    • 139 deaths (three new)
    • 42 in hospital, three in ICU
  • Edmonton zone – 9,210 cases, 2,179 active
    • 98 deaths (four new)
    • 62 in hospital, eight in ICU
  • South zone – 2,268 cases, 255 active
    • 27 deaths
    • Seven in hospital, three in ICU
  • North zone – 1,891 cases, 311 active
    • 35 deaths
    • Four in hospital, two in ICU
  • Central zone – 953 cases, 162 active
    • Eight deaths
    • Three in hospital

The breakdown for the South Health Zone by community is as follows:

  • Brooks – 1,162 cases (nine new), 30 active, nine deaths
  • Lethbridge – 452 cases (37 new), 161 active, two deaths
    • West Lethbridge – 166 cases (11 new), 50 active, one death
    • South Lethbridge – 148 cases (11 new), 50 active
    • North Lethbridge – 138 cases (16 new), 61 active, one death
  • Lethbridge County – 129 cases (10 new), 23 active, one death
  • Cardston County – 108 cases (one new), four active, five deaths
  • Medicine Hat – 90 cases (one new), six active, two deaths
  • County of Warner – 71 cases (five new), six active, one death
  • M.D. of Taber – 50 cases (two new), six active
  • County of Forty Mile – 45 cases (one new), three active
  • County of Newell – 42 cases (three new), seven active, two deaths
  • Cypress County – 38 cases (one new), five active
  • Fort Macleod – 33 cases, zero active, three deaths
  • M.D. of Pincher Creek – 27 cases, zero active, two deaths
  • Crowsnest Pass – Three cases (one new), one active

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11 things to do in Calgary this week: October 26 to 29 | Listed – Daily Hive

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Things are warming up in Calgary this Halloween week.

Whether its scaring yourself silly at a haunted house, picking out the perfect pumpkin, or simply exploring some of the city’s newest, coolest spots, we’ve got some suggestions to jumpstart your weekend plans.

  • See also: 

Go Skiing at Mount Norquay

While it may have meant an early end to fall, the snowfall Alberta has been seeing over the past week hasn’t been all bad.

The early arrival of winter has also meant that Alberta’s local ski hills have been seeing plenty of the white stuff, so much so that Mount Norquay has opened early this season.

Check out any of these brand new Calgary restaurants

New Calgary restaurants? Our three favourite words.

There is a lot of chowing down for us to do in Calgary, and these spots make our to-eat lists longer than ever.

Just opened, opening soon, or newly reopened, here are all the new delicious Calgary restaurants to try this month.

Check out The World’s Largest Dinosaur in Drumheller

Touted as the World’s Largest Dinosaur, the enterable attraction that is a must-visit for anyone hitting up the Royal Tyrell Museum officially turned 20 on October 13.

As part of the celebrations, town organizers decided it was high time to give the 82-foot-tall sculpture a name, and they reached out to the public to decide.

After counting 568 votes, it was determined that the World’s Largest Dinosaur would be deemed “Tyra.”

Where: 60 1st Avenue W, Drumheller
Time: Daily from 10 am to 5:30 pm
Tickets: $4 per person

Road trip to an abandoned ghost town in Alberta

Abandoned church in Alberta (Shutterstock)

They may not officially be haunted, but the eerie silence of Alberta’s ghost towns is still enough to make the skin crawl.

Alberta has dozens of ghost towns stretching throughout the province, most the result of a booming coal industry that were abandoned when operations failed, resources were depleted, or the world simply moved on to other forms of energy.

Check out our list of spooky places to visit this October.

Go sledding on a City of Calgary approved hill

Winter is still a few months away, but someone must have forgotten to tell Mother Nature because Calgary has already seen quite a bit of snow over the past week.

While YYC may be going through its usual freeze, snow, thaw routine at the moment, it’s only a matter of time before the white stuff is here to stay for good.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, as the snow covering actually lends opportunity for anyone looking to slip and slide down some hills.

Calgary actually has a bylaw in effect stopping would-be tobogganers from sliding down any hills that haven’t been officially given the green light, but lucky for us there are quite a few on that list.

Take stunning photos at this 2D cafe

94 Take the Cake

@94takethecake/Instagram

94 Take the Cake might just be the cutest thing outside of Calgary we’ve ever seen.

The 94 Elma Street W cafe is located in Okotoks, just a short 30-ish-minute drive from YYC, and it’s definitely worth the drive if you ask us.

In addition to sweet treats and caffeinated beverages, 94 offers patrons the ultimate photo-op, as it’s decked out in an awesome 2D colouring-book style design done by local artists.

Address: 94 Elma Street W, Okotoks

Instagram

Get your flu shot

It’s officially flu season.

Alberta Health Services has announced that the annual flu shot is now available throughout the province, with Albertans being encouraged to get immunized to protect both themselves and their at-risk neighbours.

According to the Alberta Health Services website, influenza immunization will be offered through AHS to children under five and their family or household members, though the vaccine will need to be booked through an online tool that will become available as of October 13.

All other Albertans should contact their pharmacist or physician to arrange for their own free vaccinations.

Check Out High Park

high park Calgary

High Park parkade/Beltline Neighbourhood Association

Talk about a picnic with a view.

Calgary’s newest park may not have the grass, trees, or ponds you’d come to expect from an outdoor public space, but what it lacks in nature it makes up for in colour, views, and originality.

High Park opened to the public this week, offering a space for Calgarians to check out (while safely physically distancing) at the tip top of a six-storey parking garage.

Kick back and binge some Netflix

Stay indoors and stay safe this week by making some popcorn and having some Netflix and Chill time.

Here are a few new releases worth checking out on the streaming giant this weekend.

Explore the city’s newest murals

This year’s BUMP Festival was a little different than usual due to pandemic restrictions, but that didn’t stop over a dozen artists from turning some of downtown Calgary’s exposed walls into works of art.

A total of 20 murals were completed this past September as part of the project, bringing BUMP’s lifetime total to over 50 since it began back in 2017.

The organization also noted in a release that over 5,000 people had downloaded their self-guided walking tours showcasing murals new and old, a significant increase over the 500 or so guided mural tour participants from 2019.

Hit up a pumpkin patch

Courtesy of Dixie Orchards

There are plenty of great pumpkin patches in or around Calgary where you’ll be able to find that perfect pre-Jack-o’-lantern! The Calgary Corn Maze and Fun Farm is open this weekend, and admission is just $18.

When: Open Thursdays through Sundays
Time: 10 am to 5 pm
Where: Calgary Corn Maze & Fun Farm — 284022 Township Road 224
Tickets: Free for kids two and under, $18 for adults, youth and senior discounts available online

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Thanksgiving festivities may have affected COVID-19 numbers in hot spots: Ont. govt – BayToday

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Health officials in Ontario and Manitoba are pointing to recent Thanksgiving celebrations as they continue to see high numbers of new COVID-19 infections despite strengthening restrictions in hot spot areas.

In Ontario, where new cases reached a peak over the weekend, Health Minister Christine Elliott said the holiday took place around the same time as the province imposed stricter health measures in three regions, including Toronto. The tighter rules were applied to a fourth region more than a week later.

While the number of new daily infections is starting to decrease in some areas, such as Ottawa, in the other regions, “we’re not seeing that happen quite as quickly as we’d like to,” Elliott said.

“We’re also seeing some of the impacts from Thanksgiving several weeks ago, so we’ve got that adding to the increase in community transmission, but we are also starting to see some of the numbers in some of the modified areas,” she said.

Elliott’s comments came a day after Ontario — one of the two provinces hit hardest by the pandemic — recorded 1,000 new cases, its highest single-day increase since the start of the global health crisis. The number of new infections dropped to 851 new cases on Monday, a level comparable to last week.

Of those, 281 cases were in Toronto, 215 in Peel Region, 90 in York Region and 76 in Ottawa.

Toronto’s medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, said the current case counts reflect infections that were acquired about two weeks ago so it’s likely Thanksgiving played a role, but it’s not possible to say how significant an impact it had.

“Certainly the timing lines up appropriately,” she said.

Meanwhile, Manitoba’s top doctor urged residents Monday to stop gathering in large groups, saying many of the 100 new cases reported by the province that day were linked to Thanksgiving festivities.

The vast majority of the new infections were in Winnipeg, which was placed under enhanced restrictions following a recent spike in cases.

So far, there have been 4,349 cases in Manitoba, 2,117 of which are active, and 55 deaths.

“The trajectory is in the wrong direction and if we continue at this pace, we are likely going to see over 5,000 cases by the end of this week,” said Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer.

Isaac Bogoch, infectious disease specialist at the University of Toronto, said it’s challenging to know exactly what was driving the case numbers over the last few days.

The timing suggests Thanksgiving played a role “but it’s probably not the sole factor,” he said. “It certainly would be somewhat reasonable to think that part of that rise in cases was related to Thanksgiving, or people getting together for whatever reason.”

At the same time, it would take at least two weeks to see any change as a result of new restrictions, and case counts would be expected to continue rising in that time, he said.

The next few weeks will be “very telling” when it comes to how the second wave is playing out, he added.

Either way, health officials should begin to prepare the public for Christmas — a holiday that involves even more gatherings and travel than Thanksgiving, he said.

“No one wants to say publicly that it’s unlikely that the numbers will be down in many of the hot spots in Canada in a sufficient enough way to say it’s OK to get together for Christmas.”

Alberta also imposed a 15-person limit on social gatherings in its two biggest cities on Monday, as cases in Calgary and Edmonton continue to climb.

The province reported 364 cases on Friday, 572 on Saturday and 506 on Sunday, along with seven additional deaths over the weekend. 

Unlike Ontario, Manitoba and Quebec, the Alberta government is not toughening rules for restaurants and bars because few infections seem to be connected to those venues.

In Quebec, Premier Francois Legault told a news conference in Montreal that the province’s rates of new, daily infections and deaths linked to the virus were too high to ease restrictions that have been in place since Oct. 1.

The partial lockdown on regions in maximum pandemic-alert zones was imposed until Oct. 28. But Legault said the forced closure of gyms, bars, restaurant dining areas and entertainment venues in the province’s biggest cities — such as Montreal and Quebec City — will be extended until Nov. 23. 

“We have stabilized the number of new cases but we still have a big challenge in front of us,” he said.

The province, which has been leading the country in cumulative cases, surpassed 100,000 confirmed infections over the weekend. Quebec reported 808 new cases on Monday and 10 more deaths.

“We can’t continue to have 800-1,000 cases per day,” Legault said.

Earlier in the day, a coalition of gyms and other fitness-related businesses vowed to reopen Thursday regardless of the health orders.

Legault rejected their threat outright. He said those businesses won’t reopen and owners of gyms and other companies who violate lockdown orders risk being fined. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Monday, Oct. 26, 2020.

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

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