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Province keeping a wary eye on flu season, nursing chief says

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Last year, according to the province’s final Influenza Surveillance Report for the 2019-20 season, only 26.3% of people got the annual booster which is actually a slight increase from the previous year. The province is preparing for a pandemic bump and has purchased enough shots for 40% of the population with the option to purchase more.

As of Wednesday morning, there were 283 active COVID cases in Manitoba, with nine people in hospital and three in intensive care. With school returning last week, the province is already starting to see positive case numbers begin to increase with seven at John Pritchard School and at least one case in five other schools in the province.

This past January, hospitals were flooded after two strains of the flu plus the respiratory virus all peaked at the same time. If a second or third wave of COVID hits, there will be an even bigger need for beds and resources.

Siragusa said they have been preparing for this potential.

“We have been planning for many months, making sure we have the staff and the space and the supplies available to deliver to the population of Manitoba, it has been all hands on deck,” she said, noting there will be bigger spaces in clinics to allow for better physical distancing, more hand sanitizer and signage.

The province’s top nurse also said last year was a good example of how the health system was able to adapt to the spike in flu cases and that it should be able to again this year.

“I think we’re even more better prepared,” she said. “We have protocols, we have regular teams who we have been working with because of COVID and we have many back-up plans as to when we need to accelerate or expand.”

The province will likely launch its flu shot campaign in October, though no date has been finalized.

jaldrich@postmedia.com

Twitter: @JoshAldrich03

Source:- Winnipeg Sun

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Staffing shortage could close Ottawa schools; parents told to prepare – Newstalk 1010 (iHeartRadio)

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Ottawa’s largest school board is dealing with a staffing shortage and they’re telling parents to be prepared.

Late Friday, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) sent a letter to parents outlining how the board has been managing COVID-19 cases. One item that stood out for some parents was a highlighted section telling them that they should “be prepared for the possibility of school closures” if the board does not have enough staff available.

“This is the first time our board and a number of boards in Ottawa have been very clear if the staffing situation does not change over the next few weeks and months we could be in a situation where we have to close schools,” OCDSB Trustee Mark Fisher said.

It has been two weeks since children returned to the classroom in Ontario and anxiety among parents and students persists. Provincewide, the total number of cases of COVID-19 continues to creep up, with at least 238 positive test results. Nearly 200 schools are reporting at least one student or staff member with the virus.

At least eight schools in Ottawa are dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks, which means the virus spread within the school.

The OCDSB is not the only board dealing with a teacher shortage. Other boards in Ottawa are in the same situation.

The Ontario College of Teachers has warned there is a shortage of certified teachers across the province due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a letter sent to former and retired teachers, the college asked people to reinstate their memberships and return to work to help provide relief in the classroom.

Beckey Erb, a parent of four, understands the difficulties when dealing with COVID-19 but hopes the schools will stay open. She depends on them for support and thinks the best place for her children is in the classroom. 

“I know there is the online option but I just read that they are even short teachers and they are going to have to close down some of those as well,” Erb said. “I’ve got four kids; three are in school. My oldest has autism. Being in the school setting is the best overall even with the pandemic.”

Trustee Fisher acknowledges parents could be put in a difficult situation if schools start to close but the board is working hard to make sure they stay open. 

“As a parent and trustee I want to see the continuity of learning, I think we have to be really creative about how we staff some of these positions,” Fisher said. “I think if we want our schools to remain open we need the talent to be able to do that, we need to think outside the box.” 

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Toronto shuts down three King Street restaurants after COVID-19 violations – The New Hamburg Independent

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Separately, Toronto Public Health issued a notice Saturday to patrons of Warehouse on Yonge Street, where seven people — five employees and two customers — recently tested positive for the virus. An estimated 1,700 people are believed to have visited the venue between Sept. 10 and 17, and the health unit said it has followed up with all known close contacts during that period. Those who have not been contacted by health officials are considered low risk.

A Toronto resident who asked not to be named told the Star she reported King Taps to public health authorities earlier this week, after socializing with an employee who later informed her they had tested positive for the virus after a workplace exposure.

In response to questions from the Star, a spokesperson for King Taps said it had “absolutely not” pressured any employees to work while sick and it said it goes to “great lengths” to screen workers before each shift. The restaurant is “not aware” of any employees working at multiple establishments.


King Taps is now conducting a deep cleaning of its premises and a “review of on-site practises and protocols.” Its statement said guests who visited the venue on Sept. 6, 9,10 and 11 “may wish to contact Toronto Public Health.”

While the restaurant said it would work with authorities to determine a reopening date, it said it was also “seeking clarification” about the order to close. A company spokesperson forwarded the Star a copy of an audit conducted by TPH dated Sept. 22 that described its health and safety, screening, and disinfection measures as “satisfactory.” The report said “education” was provided about physical distancing measures at the establishment, and that the restaurant was advised to use directional arrows on the floor.

In an Instagram post Friday night, MARBL said it would be closed for the weekend due to “unforeseen circumstances.” In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for the restaurant said it was “fully complying” with health officials’ orders.

“We have done everything within our power to protect staff and guests and now we must reassess and work alongside public health to ensure a safe and prompt reopening. We will be keeping everyone apprised of any updates and next step,” the statement said.

Earlier this summer, MARBL attracted criticism — and an investigation from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario — when a video appeared to show a crowded indoor party that violated COVID-19 regulations. Last week, a staff member tested positive for the virus, according to CP24.

A spokesperson for Casa Mezcal said they could not comment on the order to close.

Toronto reported more than 200 new COVID-19 cases on Friday. According to the Star’s daily count, the city has averaged 167 new cases each day this week, the highest seven-day average since early June. The province moved this week to tighten restrictions on bars and restaurants, including implementing an 11 p.m. last call.

“New data shows that unsafe social activity at a select number of bars and nightclubs is contributing to the rise in COVID-19 cases in our city. That’s why our Medical Officer of Health is taking swift action to shut down four high-risk establishments until further notice,” said Joe Cressy, councillor for Ward 10 Spadina-Fort York and Toronto Board of Health chair.

Earlier in the week, the Board of Health unanimously passed a motion to request detailed, publicly available information on workplace outbreaks from TPH. Medical officer of health Dr. Eileen de Villa said the health unit was exploring how to provide data in “a manner that appropriately protects privacy.”

“Right now, we need to stop the spread of COVID and keep people safe while also making it possible for kids to go to school, people to go to work and public services to operate safely,” Cressy said in a statement Saturday.

“This isn’t easy, but together we can do this.”

Sara Mojtehedzadeh is a Toronto-based reporter covering labour-related issues for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @saramojtehedz

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Quebec reports 698 new COVID-19 cases, seven more deaths – Wiarton Echo

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That’s the highest single-day count since May 21.

Quebec has recorded 698 new cases of COVID-19 — the highest single-day count since May 21 — bringing the province’s total to 71,005 as of Saturday.

Seven new deaths have been reported, all of which occurred between Sept. 19 and 24. The province’s death toll now stands at 5,821.

The number of hospitalizations increased by 18, for a total of 217. Of those, 33 were in intensive care.

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