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Province reports 176 new cases and three deaths – paNOW

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One hundred twenty-nine (129) people are in hospital. One hundred and two people are receiving inpatient care: Far North West (two), Far North East (one), North West (10), North Central (six), Saskatoon (43), Central East (five), Regina (32), South Central (one) and South East (two). Twenty-seven (27) people are in intensive care: North West (one), North Central (one), Saskatoon (13), Central East (two) and Regina (10).

There were 2,990 COVID-19 tests processed in Saskatchewan on March 11.

To date, 605,982 COVID-19 tests have been processed in Saskatchewan. As of March 10, when other provincial and national numbers were available, Saskatchewan’s per capita rate was 508,388 tests performed per million population. The national rate was 672,080 tests performed per million population.

The seven-day average of daily new cases is 134 (11.0 new cases per 100,000), the lowest seven-day average since November 13. A chart comparing today’s average to data collected over the past several months is available on the Government of Saskatchewan website. Please visit https://dashboard.saskatchewan.ca/health-wellness/covid-19/seven-day-average-of-new-covid-cases.

Further statistics on the total number of cases among healthcare workers, breakdowns of total cases by source of infection, age, sex and region, total tests to date, the per capita testing rate and current numbers of variants of concern can be found on the Government of Saskatchewan website. Please visit https://www.saskatchewan.ca/government/health-care-administration-and-provider-resources/treatment-procedures-and-guidelines/emerging-public-health-issues/2019-novel-coronavirus/cases-and-risk-of-covid-19-in-saskatchewan.

NITHA Data

As of March 11, there are 94 active cases of COVID-19 in NITHA communities.

These cases are located in the Far North Central, Athabasca (five), Far North West (16), Far North East (65), North Central (0), and North East (eight).

There are 3,145 cases (96 per cent) recovered, and three people are currently in hospital.

Vaccines Reported

An additional 2,692 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given in Saskatchewan, bringing the total number of vaccines administered in the province to 98,571.

The 2,692 doses of COVID-19 vaccine reported today were administered in the following regions: Far North Central (seven), North West (365), North Central (815), Saskatoon (490), Central East (237), Regina (461) and South East (317).

As of March 12, 56 per cent of long-term care homes across Saskatchewan have now received their first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and are now fully vaccinated. Forty-five per cent of personal care homes have received both their first and second doses.

For a listing of first and second doses in Saskatchewan administered by geographic zone, visit https://www.saskatchewan.ca/covid19-vaccine-update.

COVID-19 Vaccine Bookings for 80+ today and 76+ Saturday

Starting at 8 a.m. this morning, the Saskatchewan Health Authority Patient Booking System expanded COVID-19 vaccine appointment options to include individuals 80 years of age and older. Vaccine eligibility options will be expanded again tomorrow, March 13 at 8 a.m., to include individuals 76 years of age and older. People meeting this criteria can book their appointments online 24/7 using their health card at www.saskatchewan.ca/covid19-vaccine; or call 1-833-SASKVAX (1-833-727-5289) between the hours of 8 a.m. and 11 p.m.

Additional information on eligibility and how to book your appointment is available at www.saskatchewan.ca/government/health-care-administration-and-provider-resources/treatment-procedures-and-guidelines/emerging-public-health-issues/2019-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-vaccine/vaccine-booking.

Interrupt COVID-19 Transmission in Regina

With an increase of community transmission of variants of concern in Regina, public health officials are asking all those who live and work in Regina to re-commit to best prevention practices to protect against COVID-19.

  • Wear your mask in all public places
  • Maintain physical distancing
  • If you are able to work from home, work from home at this time
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Avoid all unnecessary travel

Many of Regina’s outbreaks are a result of people of going to work and public places while symptomatic. If you have any symptoms, stay home and arrange for a COVID-19 test at https://www.saskatchewan.ca/government/health-care-administration-and-provider-resources/treatment-procedures-and-guidelines/emerging-public-health-issues/2019-novel-coronavirus/testing-information.

Enforcing Public Health Measures

Enforcement of public health orders is permitted under The Public Health Act, 1994. Public health inspectors will be supported in their efforts to ticket violators to ensure that businesses and events are brought into compliance as quickly as possible, in addition to the enforcement efforts that have been undertaken by police agencies throughout the province.

For more information on the current public health measures or to see the Public Health Order, visit www.saskatchewan.ca/covid19-measures.

Weekly Reporting of Testing Numbers and Cases for Youth

The trends of COVID-19 cases in school-aged children are being monitored. The weekly report of cases and testing numbers for children aged 0-19, including data by age and positivity rates, has been posted at www.saskatchewan.ca/COVID19-Safe-Schools-Plan.

General COVID-19 Information

General public inquiries may be directed to COVID19@health.gov.sk.ca.

Know your risk. Keep yourself and others safe. www.saskatchewan.ca/government/health-care-administration-and-provider-resources/treatment-procedures-and-guidelines/emerging-public-health-issues/2019-novel-coronavirus/about-covid-19/know-your-risk.

panews@jpbg.ca

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Ontario hospitals may have to withhold care as COVID-19 fills ICUs

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By Allison Martell and Anna Mehler Paperny

TORONTO (Reuters) – Doctors in the Canadian province of Ontario may soon have to decide who can and cannot receive treatment in intensive care as the number of coronavirus infections sets records and patients are packed into hospitals still stretched from a December wave.

Canada‘s most populous province is canceling elective surgeries, admitting adults to a major children’s hospital and preparing field hospitals after the number of COVID-19 patients in ICUs jumped 31% to 612 in the week leading up to Sunday, according to data from the Ontario Hospital Association.

The sharp increase in Ontario hospital admissions is also straining supplies of tocilizumab, a drug often given to people seriously ill with COVID-19.

Hospital care is publicly funded in Canada, generally free at the point of care for residents. But new hospital beds have not kept pace with population growth, and shortages of staff and space often emerge during bad flu seasons.

Ontario’s hospitals fared relatively well during the first wave of the pandemic last year, in part because the province quickly canceled elective surgeries.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario told doctors last Thursday that the province was considering “enacting the critical care triage protocol,” something that was not done during earlier waves of the virus. Triage protocols help doctors decide who to treat in a crisis.

“Everybody’s under extreme stress,” said Eddy Fan, an ICU doctor at Toronto’s University Health Network. He said no doctor wants to contemplate a triage protocol but there are only so many staff.

“There’s going to be a breaking point, a point at which we can’t fill those gaps any longer.”

In a statement, the health ministry said Ontario has not activated the protocol. A September draft suggested doctors could withhold life-sustaining care from patients with a less than 20% chance of surviving 12 months. A final version has not been made public.

Ontario’s Science Advisory Table had been forecasting the surge for months, said member and critical care physician Laveena Munshi. During a recent shift she wanted to call the son of a patient only to discover he was in an ICU across the street.

“The horror stories that we’re seeing in the hospital are like ones out of apocalyptic movies,” she said. “They’re not supposed to be the reality we’re seeing one year into a pandemic.”

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In COVID-19 vaccination pivot, Canada targets frontline workers

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By Anna Mehler Paperny

TORONTO (Reuters) – Canada is shifting its vaccination campaign to target frontline workers, moving away from a largely age-based rollout as the country tries to get a handle on the raging third wave of the pandemic.

Canada‘s approach thus far has left unvaccinated many so-called “essential workers,” like daycare providers, bus drivers and meatpackers, all of whom are among those at higher risk of COVID-19 transmission. Provinces are now trying to adjust their strategy to tackle the surge driven by new variants.

Targeting frontline workers and addressing occupation risk is vital if Canada wants to get its third wave under control, says Simon Fraser University mathematician and epidemiologist Caroline Colijn, who has modelled Canadian immunization strategies and found “the sooner you put essential workers [in the vaccine rollout plan], the better.”

Initially, Canada prioritized long-term care residents and staff for the vaccines, as well as the very elderly, health workers, residents of remote communities and Indigenous people.

Targeting vaccinations by age made sense early on in a pandemic that ravaged Canada‘s long-term care homes, Colijn said. But now, immunizing those at highest risk of transmission brings the greatest benefit.

“If you protect these individuals you also protect someone in their 60s whose only risk is when they go to the store. … The variants are here now. So if we pivot now, but it takes us two months to do it, then we will lose that race.”

Data released on Tuesday from the Institute of Clinical and Evaluative Sciences showed that Toronto’s neighbourhoods with the highest rates of COVID-19 infections had the lowest vaccination rates, underscoring the disparities in vaccination.

‘IT’S A JUGGERNAUT’

On Wednesday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced a plan to have mobile vaccine clinics target COVID-19 “hotspots” and high-risk worksites, although he stopped short of giving people paid time off to get the shot.

Karim Kurji, medical officer of health in York Region north of Toronto, characterizes the shift in vaccination priority from age to transmission risk as moving from defence to offence.

“It’s a juggernaut in terms of the immunization machinery, and turning it around takes a lot of effort,” Kurji said.

Meanwhile, officials in the western province of Alberta say they are offering vaccines to more than 2,000 workers at Cargill’s meatpacking plant in High River, site of one of Canada‘s largest workplace COVID-19 outbreaks. Provincial officials said in a statement they are looking to expand the pilot to other plants.

Quebec will start vaccinating essential workers such as those in education, childcare and public safety in Montreal, where neighbourhoods with the highest vaccination rates have been among those with the lowest recorded infection rates.

The people doing the highest-risk jobs, from an infectious disease perspective, are more likely to be poor, non-white and new Canadians, health experts say. They are less likely to have paid leave to get tested or vaccinated or stay home when sick and are more likely to live in crowded or multi-unit housing. They need to be prioritized for vaccination and their vaccination barriers addressed, experts say.

Naheed Dosani, a Toronto palliative care physician and health justice activist, said making vaccines available to high-risk communities is not enough without addressing barriers to access.

“The face of COVID-19 and who was being impacted changed dramatically. The variants seemed to take hold in communities where essential workers live. … This [pivot] is a step in the right direction and will hopefully save lives.”

 

(Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny; Editing by Denny Thomas and Aurora Ellis)

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Canada finance minister: Pandemic an opportunity to bring in national childcare

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OTTAWA (Reuters) – The COVID-19 pandemic and its damaging impact on women has underlined the need for a national childcare plan, which would also help the economic recovery, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Thursday.

Since taking up her job in August, Freeland has repeatedly spoken about a “feminist agenda,” and has said childcare will be part of a stimulus package worth up to C$100 billion ($79.6 billion) over three years. She will unveil details in her April 19 budget.

“I really believe COVID-19 has created a window of political opportunity and maybe an epiphany … on the importance of early learning and childcare,” Freeland told a online convention of Canada‘s ruling Liberal Party.

The budget is set to be a springboard for an election that Liberal insiders say is likely in the second half of the year.

Canadian governments of various stripes have mused about a national childcare program for decades but never acted, thanks in part to the cost and also the need to negotiate with the 10 provinces, which deliver many social programs.

Freeland said a childcare program would help counter “an incredibly dangerous drop” in female employment since the start of the pandemic.

“It is a surefire way to drive jobs and economic growth … you have higher participation of women in the labor force,” Freeland said. “My hope … is that being able to make that economic argument as well is going be to one of the ways that we get this done.”

Freeland, who is taking part this week in meetings of the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations and the International Monetary Fund, said U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen had told her they saw early learning and child care as a driver for economic recovery.

($1=1.2560 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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