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Recent spike in COVID-19, so Manitoba reworks six-figure ad campaign – CBC.ca

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Manitoba’s COVID-19 numbers were once the envy of most other provinces, but there have been several outbreaks in recent weeks, and the government is having to alter its six-figure ad campaign.

The campaign, once focused on economic recovery, is becoming more about health precautions.

At one point in July, Manitoba had flattened its infection curve so much that there was only one known active case. That stood in sharp contrast to every other province west of New Brunswick.

Winnipeg offered to be the site for a shortened Canadian Football League season (which never went ahead) and the government launched advertisements on billboards, social media and elsewhere with the message: “Ready. Safe. Grow.”

The ads, with an estimated budget of $425,000 this year, directed people to a website that contained some health information, but focused largely on what businesses could do to land new contracts and get access to support programs.

The landscape changed as COVID-19 clusters broke out in Winnipeg, Brandon, and a few Hutterite colonies. By Friday, Manitoba was up to 418 active cases.

While some physical billboards have yet to change, electronic ones in recent days have been swapped out to feature a new “Know The Facts” slogan, along with pictures of recently adopted colour codes — red, orange, yellow and green — to denote different levels of restrictions that can be imposed if case numbers rise.

Most of the province is under the yellow code, with a few restrictions. But the Prairie Mountain health region was recently bumped to orange status, which has stricter limits on public gatherings and requires masks to be worn in public places. Some billboards in the region now bear a large orange symbol and the word “restricted.”

The ads continue to point to the government’s web page about economic programs, but the page starts with an explanation of the colour codes and restrictions in place.

When the campaign first began, the Opposition New Democrats said it ignored health concerns and was a premature taxpayer-funded victory lap for Premier Brian Pallister’s Progressive Conservative government. Even the revamped one is using dollars that could be better spent elsewhere, the NDP has suggested.

“The premier doesn’t get it. Spending … money on billboards does nothing to make schools safe, protect workers or help businesses stay open,” NDP legislature member Mark Wasyliw said in a written statement Friday.

The government says the billboards serve an important purpose and are adaptable to changing circumstances.

“The campaign has been designed to be flexible. Digital billboards, social media advertising and other elements of the campaign will be able to adapt as the situation in the province evolves,” Blake Robert, the government’s media relations director, wrote in an email.

“With the change to the restricted level in Prairie Mountain health region, for example, digital billboards and online advertising has been changed to highlight the pandemic response system.”

The ad campaign also includes radio advertisements featuring the voice of chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin. The ads remind people to take precautions such as washing hands and maintaining two metres distance from others.

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COVID-19: Etches says 'second wave' has begun but can be controlled; City readying more test centres, mayor says – Ottawa Citizen

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Article content continued

Watson said he’s been told by health officials that up to 90 per cent of people in the lines have no symptoms.

Watson said Ottawa Public Health has stepped up to help, but the primary responsibility for testing is with the hospital network.

“To their credit now, and I’ve talked to all four hospital presidents, they understand the urgency and frustration and they have to get this problem fixed.”

While the city remains in an emergency situation, Watson said there’s no need for logistical assistance from the military as there are no additional sites yet to set up testing facilities.

Meanwhile, two schools in Ottawa will be visited by mobile COVID-19 testing sites this weekend, with tests made available only for staff and students with symptoms or those at the school who’ve been identified as high-risk contacts of a confirmed case and haven’t yet been tested.

One of the pop-up sites appears to be Collège catholique Franco-Ouest, a French Catholic high school in Nepean where the province has reported three cases of COVID-19 among students.

The second site, for staff and students at De La Salle High School, has been set up at Jules Morin Park and will also operate Friday through Sunday, according to an OPH notice to families. Two people associated with De La Salle, including one staff member, have tested positive for COVID-19 according to provincial data.

In a statement to this newspaper, Ontario Health explained that three mobile testing teams have been deployed to Ottawa “to targeted areas with known prevalence,” including some schools where students have tested positive for COVID-19.

“Ottawa Public Health is supporting these teams by working with the schools and families to determine who might need a test at the schools. It’s important that the public do not seek out these pop-ups as they have a limited capacity and are focused on targeting the school population.”

The location of these mobile teams “could change in the coming days and weeks depending on need; they may continue to target schools or other specific centres with known prevalence – or they may set up near an assessment centre that’s experiencing very high volumes in order to better support a broader population.”

Ontario Health will be working with local partners to “identify new places that might benefit from these teams,” the statement noted.

The third team appears to have set up Friday at the Heron Road care clinic to add additional testing capacity at this location.

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One-hour British DnaNudge COVID-19 test is accurate, study finds – Reuters UK

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LONDON (Reuters) – A British COVID-19 test known as DnaNudge that gives results in just over an hour and which requires no laboratory was accurate in almost all cases, an academic review in the Lancet has found.

Slideshow ( 3 images )

Faster testing could allow more people to return to work or permit testing on entry to hospital, thus slowing a second spike in coronavirus infections.

The new test, based on the design of a DNA test developed by a professor at Imperial College London, received approval for clinical use by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) at the end of April after successful trials.

In a study in The Lancet Microbe, the test was found to have an average sensitivity – the ability to correctly identify those with COVID-19 – of 94.4% and a specificity – correctly identifying those without the disease – of 100%.

“These results suggest that the CovidNudge test, which can be performed at a patient’s bedside without the need to handle any sample material, has comparable accuracy to standard laboratory testing,” Professor Graham Cooke, lead author of the study from the Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial College London, said.

The Lancet paper described the test, which requires one nostril swab, as “a sensitive, specific, and rapid point of care test for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 without laboratory handling or sample pre-processing”.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told LBC radio that Britain was rolling out the tests across hospitals.

“The critical thing in terms of usefulness is that the machine doesn’t need to be in a lab – it is about the size of a shoebox – therefore you can put one, say, in an A&E (accident and emergency) department and they can know whether people coming in have got the coronavirus or not,” Hancock said.

Hancock said the machines could also be deployed at other locations such as schools.

Each box can run one test at a time so could process about 16 tests per day, said a spokeswoman for the company that produces the tests.

For the text of the Lancet paper: here

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Kate Holton and Gareth Jones

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Nine deaths linked to COVID-19 at Ottawa long-term care home – CTV Edmonton

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OTTAWA —
Nine residents of an Ottawa long-term care home have died due to COVID-19 in the most serious outbreak of novel coronavirus in Ottawa in months.

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, West End Villa confirms that nine residents have passed away from complications related to COVID-19.

“As of (Friday), there have been 52 cases of COVID-19 among residents, and 26 cases among staff, including one agency employee,” said Kelly Keeler, Administrator at West End Villa.

“All employee who have testing positive are isolating at home. Three residents are being treated in hospital and four resident cases have been resolved.”

Keeler says West End Villa is working with Ottawa Public Health and will remain in “close contact” with family members.

Earlier this week, West End Villa said a second round of COVID-19 surveillance testing had been conducted to help ensure cohorting efforts are as effective as possible.

Ottawa Public Health declared a COVID-19 outbreak at West End Villa on Aug. 30. 

The first novel coronavirus outbreak at West End Villa in May saw one staff member test positive for novel coronavirus. 

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