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Retirement homes on edge as Public Health attempts to prevent more COVID outbreaks –



Dr. Monika Dutt, chief medical officer of health for Central Health and Western Health, said the recent outbreaks at long-term and personal-care homes are concerning. (CBC)

Public Health officials have battened down the hatches at Newfoundland and Labrador’s long-term and personal-care homes as it tries to prevent — or in some cases, mitigate — the spread of COVID-19.

Dr. Monika Dutt, chief medical officer of health for Central Health and Western Health, says she’s concerned about ongoing outbreaks in long-term and personal care homes across the province.

“It’s something all through the pandemic that we’ve really worked hard to try to prevent,” Dutt said in an interview with CBC News on Monday.

“We’re definitely following these outbreaks, as well as other potential exposures throughout the region and the province very closely as we try to prevent any further illness in any of our communities and our homes.”

As of Monday, 46 residents and 44 staff members had tested positive at the Bay St. George Long-Term Care Centre in Stephenville Crossing, said Western Health in a statement. Staff from other areas of the regional health authority have been redeployed to help with resident care.

Additionally, as of Friday, four cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed at the long-term care home in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and as of Saturday 43 residents at a nursing home in Kippens had also tested positive.

Public Health introduced strict visitation guidelines at congregate living facilities at the end of December. Residents are permitted one essential support person, while all other visitation is suspended.

At homes with outbreaks or potential exposures, all visitation is prohibited and many residents are isolated in their rooms.

Dealing with exposures

Dr. Natalie Bridger, Eastern Health’s head of infection prevention and control, said last week that nearly every congregate living facility in eastern Newfoundland has had a COVID-19 exposure. 

Bishops Gardens, a personal-care home in St. John’s, was added to that list on Sunday. 

About 80 residents are now under two weeks of isolation, unable to see friends and family in person until that period has passed.

“Fortunately, right now, we don’t have any residents who are experiencing symptoms from COVID-19,” said Mike Powell, president of Bishops Gardens owner Fort Amherst Health Care. “We’re following the direction of the health authority.”

He said the home learned of the exposure on Sunday afternoon with all residents tested by Monday. A number of employees are also in isolation, but Powell didn’t know the number.

Kingsway Living is another personal-care home company that owns multiple homes across the province, many of them in central Newfoundland.

Ashley Norman, a spokesperson for the company, said no Kingsway homes have had COVID-19 exposures yet.

“We definitely took that very seriously, because it’s scary when our seniors get sick because they are definitely more susceptible to getting serious symptoms,” Norman said. “We made sure we were following all of the public health guidelines.”

Family members visit through a window at Kingsway Living in Grand Bank in March 2020. (Kingsway Living/Facebook)

Norman said most of the common spaces in the homes are on the ground floor, which allow the “window visits” that were common when long-term and personal-care homes locked down at the beginning of the pandemic.

“We’re just making sure that even though they can’t be with their families, they are still able to see their family, interact with their family,” she said.

Norman said residents are feeling the stress of the new visitor restrictions, but are taking some comfort in the communities within the homes.

“The residents are just really glad to have each other rather than being home alone,” she said.

She said the number of staff members in isolation due to COVID-19 changes daily.

“The staff are definitely tired with everybody having to isolate if they’ve been exposed to somebody or even had one symptom,” Norman said, adding the mood is positive overall.

“They do their best to keep each other’s mood up, which is really nice.”

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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Nova Scotia reports 68 people in hospital because of COVID-19 –



Nova Scotia has reported that 68 people are in hospital because of COVID-19, including 10 in intensive care.

A news release from the province Sunday said the patients are receiving specialized care in a COVID-19 designated unit.

The average age of the patients admitted for COVID-19 is 65, the release states. The majority of the patients, 65, were admitted during the Omicron wave. 

There are also two other groups currently in hospital related to the virus, according to the release.

  • 60 people who were identified as positive upon arrival but were admitted for another medical reason, or were admitted for COVID-19 but no longer require specialized care
  • 112 people who contracted COVID-19 after being admitted to hospital.

The abbreviated release did not provide the number of COVID-19 admissions and discharges. 

Nova Scotia Health labs completed 3,711 tests on Saturday and 696 new cases have been reported.

There are 447 cases in the central health zone, 108 in the eastern zone, 105 in the western zone and 36 in the northern zone.

Less than than 10 per cent of Nova Scotians are unvaccinated, according to provincial statistics.

As of Friday’s update, unvaccinated Nova Scotians were about four times more likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19 than someone with two doses of vaccine. That is based on average hospitalizations since the province started releasing the daily hospitalizations by vaccine status on Jan. 4.

Summary offence tickets

Halifax Regional Police issued 11 summary offence tickets Sunday for violations of health regulations.

Police responded to reports of a party at a Bayers Road residence shortly before 1 a.m. Sunday.

Tickets were issued to 11 occupants for failing to comply with provisions of the Health Protection Act. 

The tickets carry a fine of $2,422.

Atlantic Canada case numbers

  • Newfoundland and Labrador reported one death and 384 new cases Sunday. There are 5,503 active cases and 12 hospitalizations. 
  • Prince Edward Island reported five hospitalizations Saturday. There were 309 new cases and 222 recoveries in Saturday’s report.
  • New Brunswick reported four more deaths and 115 hospitalizations Sunday. The province has 5,265 active cases.

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UK’s Johnson plans to scrap COVID-19 self-isolation law – The Telegraph



The United Kingdom is drawing up plans under which people will not be legally bound to self-isolate after catching COVID-19, The Telegraph reported on Sunday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to permanently revoke emergency coronavirus laws as Britain’s COVID-19 cases continue to fall, the report said, adding official guidance would remain but would not result in fines or legal punishment if ignored.

The plans will be worked up over the coming weeks, with an announcement expected as early as the spring, the report said.

Last week, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said COVID-19 self-isolation in England will be cut to five days from seven if someone tests negative twice.

Johnson is also set to lift Plan B COVID-19 restrictions, introduced last month to slow the spread of the Omicron variant, according to an earlier Telegraph report.


(Reporting by Maria Ponnezhath in Bengaluru; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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'Choose increased antibodies over brand': Moderna appointments still being cancelled in London, Ont. area – CTV News London



Doctors and pharmacists continue to advocate for people to get the first available mRNA vaccine for their COVID-19 booster dose.

“We have had some feedback that appointments are being canceled because people are holding out for Pfizer,” says Dr. Joyce Lock, the medical officer of health for Southwestern Public Health (SWPH).

“I strongly strongly urge everyone, particularly those over the age of 50, to choose increased antibodies over brand,” she added.

Lock made those statements during her weekly briefing on Jan 12.

“Our immunity following our original two doses is decreasing over time,” says Lock. “Our bodies don’t care what brand they receive. They follow the science, not the manufacturer. Studies show that immunity shoots back up after the booster and it doesn’t matter which brand.”

This week, First Ave. Pharmacy in St. Thomas, Ont. took to Facebook saying it had openings due to people refusing Moderna as a booster dose.“We send out a mass email saying that there’s a shortage of Pfizer and we might have to offer them Moderna and some people would cancel their appointment online or they would call us and cancel their appointments,” says Minh Nguyen, pharmacist at First Ave. Pharmacy. “Both Moderna and Pfizer are mRNA vaccines and equally effective at preventing severe illness from COVID. So I would say get whatever mRNA vaccine you can.”

Sunday, the Metrolinx Go-VAXX bus returned to London, Ont. It was stationed in the parking lot at the new East Lions Community Centre on Brydges St.

They had some appointments booked, but we were even taking walk-ins with Pfizer being administered.

“I’ve had Pfizer for my first two shots and that’s what I preferred,” says Michael Sean MacVoy, a truck driver getting his booster. “At this point, I didn’t care.”

Diane Crozman was in the same scenario, getting Pfizer a third time. “It doesn’t really make a difference to me,” she said. “They said the Moderna is going to work the same, but Pfizer that’s good because I’ve already got the other two Pfizer.”

Justin Seaward showed up for a walk-in booster, minutes after his wife went home from her booked appointment.

“I’ve had Pfizer, Moderna, then Pfizer now,” says Seaward. “It didn’t really make a difference much to me. I just wanted to be Vaxxed so I can feel safer for my family.”The Middlesex-London Paramedic Service (MLPS) had administered 2,194 doses of vaccine over the past six days since starting pop-up clinics in Middlesex County.

The percentage of people upset that Moderna was being administered is very low.

“It has happened a few times at the front door, but very rare,” says Miranda Bothwell, acting superintendent for special operations with MLPS.

They will be back on the road, continuing their pop-up clinic tour Monday in Lucan, Ont. 

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