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Region getting more contact tracers – KitchenerToday.com

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The Region of Waterloo is getting some assistance from the province when it comes to contact tracing.

The request was made earlier this week by Regional Chair Karen Redman and the Ford government is promising ten additional contract tracers to track down those who may have been exposed to COVID-19.

“With each case in an outbreak, we are seeing very high numbers of contacts that require hours of contract tracing by public health officials. It is getting more and more difficult for public health to reach everyone who has potentially come in contact with a person who later tests positive for the virus.” Redman told a media briefing on Friday morning.

Waterloo Region’s medical officer of health says contract tracing is currently being done by over 90 staff and students.

Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang explained they’ve been challenged recently by the number of large scale outbreaks in workplace and business settings, “In the past week, our ability to contact cases within 24 hours has dropped to as a low as 50 per cent … but this is temporary, as we continue to reallocate and reinforce our staffing. Our team has indicated we should be back up to 90 per cent of cases in the next day or two.”

Those additional contract tracers promised by the province are scheduled to start next week.

There are 13 outbreaks in workplace and business settings, but Dr. Wang points out they have currently been monitoring 56 others to prevent them from going into outbreak, “…We begin monitoring, in fact, and investigating settings as soon as a single case is identified. We do not wait for transmission to occur before we begin to monitor for potential outbreaks.”

During the media briefing, Redman also mentioned a recent fine issued to Ming’s Restaurant in Cambridge – for not having proper space between tables, or a barrier between them.

Both Redman and Dr. Wang have recommended to the province that Waterloo Region be placed in the ‘red-control’ category of the province’s framework, meaning more restrictions.

That announcement could come as early as Friday afternoon.

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Ontario records 1746 new COVID-19 cases today amid drop in testing – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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The number of new COVID-19 cases in Ontario surpassed 1,700 once again today amid a significant drop in testing over the past 24 hours.

Ontario health officials reported 1,746 new infections today, up slightly from the 1,708 confirmed one day prior but down from the record 1,855 recorded on Friday.

The new cases come as the province reports a notable drop in testing today.

After surpassing 50,000 tests per day for three consecutive days, only 39,406 tests were completed yesterday.

According to provincial health officials, the test positivity rate provincewide is now 4.6 per cent, up substantially from 3.7 per cent on Sunday but on par with the positivity rate at this point last week.

The rolling seven-day average of new cases is now 1,570, up from 1,429 one week ago.

“These trends of course remain concerning. The fact that we have had record high numbers on Friday and continued high numbers over the weekend and today is troubling,” Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, said at a news conference on Monday afternoon. 

“The question is will we be able to keep it there and come down or will we plateau and start going up again?”

COVID-related hospitalizations also climbed to 618 today, up from 601 on Sunday, with 168 of those patients now in intensive care.

A count of local public health units and individual hospitals puts the number of hospitalizations at 631.

Eight more virus-related deaths were recorded today, down from 24 on Sunday and the lowest single-day death toll since Nov. 20.

Two of the fatalities confirmed over the past 24 hours involve residents of long-term care facilities, the latest data from the province reveals.

Of the new infections today, 622 are in Toronto, 390 are in Peel, and 217 are in York Region.

Toronto’s total today is the highest single-day tally recorded in the city since the start of the pandemic.

Another 108 new cases were reported in Durham Region today, up from 73 one day prior.

GTA public health units account for nearly 80 per cent of all new COVID-19 cases in the province and today marks one week since Toronto and Peel Region entered a 28-day lockdown.

During the lockdown, restaurants can only remain open for takeout and delivery and non-essential retailers are only permitted to offer curbside pickup and delivery.

Gyms, casinos, and movie theatres have also been closed.

Residents are being advised to only gather with members of their household and only go out for essential purposes.

Tougher public health measures were introduced in five more Ontario regions today, including Windsor-Essex, which was placed in the province’s “red” zone.

Task force working on plan for vaccine rollout

Last week, the province released details of its COVID-19 vaccine task force, which will be responsible for the distribution of vaccines when they are approved and arrive in Canada.

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott previously said she expects Ontario to receive a total of 2.4 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in the first three months of 2021.

Recipients of the vaccine will require two doses 28 days apart, which means the first shipment Ontario receives will likely only be enough to inoculate 1.2 million residents.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last week that he expects most Canadians who want to be vaccinated will be able to do so by September 2021.

“I really think that if we have these vaccines landing on Canadian soil some time in very early 2021, like if it is the month of January, even in early February, I think this would be considered a huge success,” Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases specialist, told CP24 on Monday morning.

“We are not making these vaccines here. We are really relying on companies in other countries to produce this and send it to us.”

He said early rollout of the vaccine in Canada will go a long way to protecting the most vulnerable.

“Even with that very first early batch of vaccines that are coming… you can do so much good with that. If we just vaccinate target populations, like people in long-term care facilities… right off the bat, you are going to just decrease the probability of so many people getting very, very sick, coming to hospital, and sadly dying,” he said.

“We can alleviate that, we can alleviate tremendous suffering at an individual level but we can also take off tremendous pressure from our health-care system… Even well before September we can do some tremendous good.”

New cases in the GTHA today:

Toronto: 622

Peel Region: 390

York Region: 217

Durham Region: 108

Halton Region: 35

Hamilton: 54

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Ontario parents can now apply for second COVID-19 payout. Here's how – CTV Toronto

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TORONTO —
Just in time for the holidays, Ontario parents can now apply for their second COVID-19 payment from the provincial government.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford made the announcement during a news conference on Monday, saying the funds aim to help parents struggling due to additional learning and child-care costs amid the pandemic.

“There are thousands of families out there who have made sacrifices, who’ve taken seriously the public health advice, and who have gone that extra mile to make sure their child can learn safely,” Ford told reporters.

“We will always be there to support each and every single person in this province. That’s why I’m proud to announce that starting today the portal is open for applications for the ‘Support for Learners’ program.”

Parents of children aged 12 or younger will be able to receive a one-time payment of $200 per child, and $250 for children 21 years of age or younger with special education needs.

The portal is open to all eligible parents in Ontario, whether their children attend school in-person, online, or both.

“This financial support will help families cover the unexpected costs of school supplies, and other learning resources, especially for our youngest learners,” Education Minister Stephen Lecce told reporters.

“The money will be deposited directly into your accounts within roughly two weeks following your verification.”

The province said the application for the “direct one-time payments” can be submitted online and parents have until Jan. 15 of next year to apply.

This is the second payout from the province to Ontario families during the COVID-19 pandemic. The first payout came in the spring. The government said it will spend $380 million on the second payout to parents, on top of the $378 million from the first round. 

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Winnipeggers in 30s, 40s among new COVID-19 deaths in Manitoba – CBC.ca

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A Winnipeg man in his 30s and a Winnipeg woman in her 40s are among 11 new COVID-19 deaths in Manitoba, health officials say.

Manitoba hit a new record high for COVID-19 hospitalizations with 342 people in hospital on Monday, as the province added 343 new cases to its total. There are 43 positive patients in intensive care units, down one from Sunday.

Seven of the deaths are connected to outbreaks at long-term care homes, including a man and a woman in their 80s at Fairview Personal Care Home.

The deaths also include a woman in her 70s linked to the outbreak in the GA3 unit at Health Sciences Centre, a man in his 80s linked to the Villa Youville personal care home, a man in his 80s linked to the Charleswood Care Centre, a man in his 80s linked to Golden Links Lodge, a woman in her 90s linked to St. Norbert Personal Care Home, a man in his 90s linked to the Bridgepark Manor assisted living facility, and a Winnipeg woman in her 90s.

Manitoba’s test-positivity rate is 13.4 per cent, a slight increase of 0.1 percentage points from Sunday but still lower than at any other point last week.

Outbreaks at the Women’s Correctional Centre in Headingley and the Keeyask Generating Station near Thompson have been declared over. 

New outbreaks have been declared at the Lakeshore General Hospital in Ashern and West Park Manor Personal Care Home in Winnipeg.

The Winnipeg health region produced the majority of new cases, with 207 confirmed infections, while the Southern Health region had the second most, with 53. The rest of the cases were in the Northern Health region (46), Interlake-Eastern health region (23) and Prairie Mountain Health region (14).

Manitoba has now had 16,825 confirmed coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, with 9,260 reported as still active, although that number is likely inflated due to a backlog in clearing recovered cases.

A boy under 10 is the youngest person to die of COVID-19 in Manitoba, health officials announced on Saturday.

Two Manitoba churches, Church of God and Springs Church, held drive-in services on the weekend, in violation of public health orders capping gatherings at five people and ordering religious services to move online.

Winnipeg School Division teachers will walk thousands of students through an in-class exercise on Tuesday that’s meant to simulate what it could be like if the entire school system is suddenly forced to learn remotely.

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