When Bronagh Nazarko took one of her kids to get a COVID-19 test in Winnipeg, she ended up waiting four hours in line and missing a day of work.
When her husband took their other two kids to get tested several days later, he too waited four hours and also missed a day in the home office.
The experience left her wondering how other parents are supposed to juggle child-care and work responsibilities while they wait for a COVID-19 swab, which Manitoba’s government has spent six months promoting as a central facet of its pandemic response.
“We’re very lucky that we have fairly flexible office jobs and that we can work from home, but for a lot of people, I just can’t see that this is sustainable to do this,” Nazarko said Wednesday in an interview.
“I can see that this would deter people from getting tested, and I’m concerned that that means cases will get missed because people don’t want to wait.”
Winnipeg still undergoing surge in demand for swabs
For weeks, there have been long lines outside Winnipeg’s sole drive-through COVID-19 sampling site in the North End on Main Street and heavy traffic at its three other sampling sites.
Winnipeg is now the epicentre of the province’s COVID-19 outbreak, with the city possessing 335 of Manitoba’s 418 active cases.
The province has responded by warning more restrictions could be placed on the Winnipeg health region if residents and visitors don’t become more diligent about gathering in small groups, washing their hands, keeping a safe distance away from each other and wearing masks when they cannot.
On Tuesday, the province also pledged to open another sampling site by Sept. 28 under the management of private health-care company Dynacare. It is supposed to collect up to 1,400 samples a day, at first, with the eventual potential to administer 2,600 swabs.
“The new specimen-collection sites announced [Tuesday] will help address waits for sample collection that are due to increased volumes,” Manitoba Public Health said in a statement.
Manitoba’s Official Opposition contends this promise is not good enough for Manitobans right now.
“I think people are upset today, waiting hours in line,” NDP Leader Wab Kinew said.
“This is something that the government has seen coming for six months or more. And again, we all made tremendous sacrifices, whether on a personal or social level to try and flatten the curve, to buy the government more time.”
Testing inspires confidences, premier suggested
At the height of Manitoba’s economically stifling lockdown, the premier suggested widespread testing and contact tracing would be the key to allowing the province to get back to business.
“We know that through increased testing there is an increased possibility that we’ll be able to build confidence — not only in the general public, but in the health officials whose guidance we must listen to — that we are not opening the door to a resurgence in COVID infections in our province,” Premier Brian Pallister said on April 16.
Twelve days later, he pledged to increase lab-testing capacity to 3,000 tests per day with the help of a new Dynacare lab in Winnipeg. That lab was completed by the end of July and Manitoba can now complete as many as 2,800 tests per day, between the work conducted at the Dynacare lab and Cadham Provincial Lab.
In recent weeks, the province has been completing fewer than 1,500 tests per day, on average, and Winnipeggers began to complain about long lines.
Unlike in April, when health-care workers left idle due to restrictions on hospital and clinic operations presented an easily accessible pool of skilled labour, health administrators found themselves unable to find the staff to extend hours at sampling sites, Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said last week.
Health Minister Cameron Friesen’s office said the province is facing unprecedented challenges.
“We empathize with Manitobans’ frustrations surrounding COVID-19, and work to alleviate these stressors as we have done throughout the entire pandemic,” Friesen’s office said in a statement.
The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority is recruiting volunteers to help direct traffic at sampling sites, spokesperson Paul Turenne said.
The Dynacare site will also help, Friesen’s office said. The precise date it will open has not been determined, said Mark Bernhardt, Dynacare’s communications manager based in Brampton, Ont.
Kinew accused the province of relying too heavily on the private firm.
“It seems as though the government is just abdicating [its] responsibility to provide what I think is the most important public health measure right now: figuring out whether or not you have COVID during the COVID pandemic,” he said.
“The government’s declared a state of emergency, and yet they basically created a vacuum of leadership and just said, ‘OK, Dynacare … you go handle everything for us.'”
Workplace testing available for private clients
Kinew also expressed concern that Dynacare provides workplace COVID-19 testing for companies willing to pay extra to test their workers.
“If someone has more money and they have a registered business, all of a sudden they can skip the line. To me, that’s not fair and it violates the public health interest that we all have in fighting the pandemic,” he said.
Bernhardt confirmed Dynacare provides mobile workplace testing for COVID-19 as well as blood tests for other illnesses. All samples collected from private clients are processed at a lab in Brampton, he said, and do not compete for lab time with public samples in Winnipeg.
Nazarko, who spent hours in the testing queue with her kids, said she is concerned about will happen in Winnipeg during the winter, when waiting for hours outside won’t be possible.
“I would personally really like to see them switch to an appointment-based system where we could wait at home and my husband and I could work until our appointment time comes,” she said.
Roussin said earlier this month the province is pondering what to do with sampling sites during the winter.
Manitoba to give COVID-19 update as new Winnipeg restrictions begin – CTV News Winnipeg
The Manitoba government is set to give an update on COVID-19 cases in the province on Monday, Oct. 19.
Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, will be speaking at a news conference at 12:30 p.m. at the Manitoba Legislative Building. CTV News Winnipeg will live-stream the event.
This news conference comes as new restrictions take effect in the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region amid growing case numbers. These restrictions include reducing gathering sizes to five people for both indoor and outdoor public and private gatherings, and closing beverage rooms, bars, live entertainment facilities, casinos and bingo halls.
Over the weekend, Manitoba announced 129 new COVID-19 cases – 85 on Saturday and 44 on Sunday, as well as two more deaths. This brings the province’s death toll to 40 people.
Currently, there are 1,675 active cases of the disease in Manitoba, 1,436 of which are in Winnipeg, which is under code orange restrictions.
Since March, there have been 3,302 cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba.
This is a developing story, more details to come.
– With files from CTV’s Danton Unger and Mason DePatie.
New Winnipeg restrictions take effect today
Amid rising COVID-19 case numbers, the Manitoba government has issued more targeted restrictions for the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region, which come into effect on Monday, Oct. 19.
These new rules include:
- Reducing gathering sizes to five people for both indoor and outdoor public and private gatherings. This excludes household members for private gatherings inside a home;
- Closing beverage rooms, bars, live entertainment facilities, casinos and bingo halls;
- Limiting capacity at restaurants and lounges to 50 per cent. Tables can be no more than five people with two-metre distancing;
- Limiting retail businesses to 50 per cent capacity. Food courts and common areas must adhere to the five-person group size limit;
- Reducing the number of spectators at sporting activities and after-school events to 25 per cent of a site’s capacity;
- Reducing capacity at museums, galleries and libraries to 50 per cent. These facilities must also collect all attendees’ contact information; and
- Gyms and fitness centres must collect all attendees contact information. Everyone at a gym or fitness centre must wear a mask, unless they are doing physical activity.
These restrictions will remain in place for two weeks, at which time the province will reassess the rules.
“At two weeks we are going to need to either extend them or draw back – so we want to make it really clear that the intent of this is strictly time-limited,” said Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, at a news conference on Friday, Oct. 16.
These new restrictions are in addition to the current rules in place for the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region, which includes mandatory masks in all indoor public spaces.
The Winnipeg Metropolitan Region has been under orange or restricted levels on the pandemic response system since Sept. 28.
“These restrictions will all be enforceable under the law,” Roussin said.
“We’ve issued fines in the past when required and we will be looking at ways of stepping up enforcing efforts in the coming weeks.”
As of Sunday, Oct. 18, there are 1,436 active COVID-19 cases in Winnipeg, the highest of any region in the province.
– With files from CTV’s Danton Unger.
Nova Scotia businesses won’t survive another year of COVID-19 restrictions
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business say many Atlantic Canada businesses are on the brink of bankruptcy.
According to their most recent study, 59 percent of Nova Scotia businesses would struggle to survive another year of COVID-19 business restrictions.
Jordi Morgan, Vice President of the Atlantic region for the CFIB, told NEWS 95.7’s The Rick Howe Show that without continued government support, many businesses in the province will slip below the surface, according to research CFIB has been conducting on business revenues ever since the pandemic began.
“In Nova Scotia, we’re looking at about only 33 percent normal or better,” said Morgan of businesses’ revenues compared to before the pandemic began. “So that means the remainder are below that.”
According to Morgan, the sectors most impacted are arts, hospitality and natural resources industries.
He added the most recent figures show 8 percent of businesses in the province are actively considering bankruptcy or winding down.
With the current revenue projections, only about 35 percent of Nova Scotia businesses would survive the year with their current earnings.
Morgan says the provincial government needs to get creative and ease business restrictions to make life easier for buisnesses as they brace for a potential second wave of COVID-19.
Source: – HalifaxToday.ca
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