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Seven new COVID-19 cases announced Thursday – HalifaxToday.ca

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NEWS RELEASE
COVID-19/HEALTH/WELLNESS
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As of today, Dec. 24, Nova Scotia has 36 active cases of COVID-19. Seven new cases are being reported today.

Six of the cases are in Central Zone and one is in Western Zone. Two of the cases in Central Zone and the one in Western Zone are related to close contacts of previously reported cases. One case in Central Zone is related to travel and the other three cases in Central Zone are under investigation. One of the cases in Central Zone is in another province or territory. The person is a Nova Scotia resident and is included in our cumulative provincial data.

“I know following the gathering limits and other protocols can be a challenge at this special time of year,” said Premier Stephen McNeil. “Let’s remember that the hard work Nova Scotians have done to contain the virus means the restrictions here are not as tight as in other parts of the country. Let’s also be thankful for what we do have as we continue the good work to keep COVID-19 in check. I wish all Nova Scotians a safe holiday season and a Merry Christmas.”

Public health guidance for holidays and celebrations can be found at https://novascotia.ca/protect-yourself-and-others-from-coronavirus/holidays/ .

Nova Scotia Health Authority’s labs completed 1,340 Nova Scotia tests on Dec. 23.

There were 1,561 tests administered between Dec. 18-23 at the rapid-testing pop-up sites in Halifax, Dartmouth and Eskasoni. There were 174 tests at Eskasoni yesterday with no positive results, following 201 tests on Tuesday, Dec. 22, also with no positive results. The rapid testing in Eskasoni is now concluded. There is no indication of community exposure or spread in Eskasoni at this time.

Since Oct. 1, Nova Scotia has completed 104,277 tests. There have been 376 positive COVID-19 cases and no deaths. No one is currently in hospital. Cases range in age from under 10 to over 70. Three hundred and forty cases are now resolved. Cumulative cases may change as data is updated in Panorama.

“To those who celebrate Christmas, I wish you a Merry Christmas! Please ensure you are following all the public health guidelines while celebrating with loved ones,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health. “Do your part by wearing a mask, limiting social contacts, practising social distancing, adhering to the gathering limit, staying home when feeling unwell and washing your hands.”

Visit https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/ to do a self-assessment if in the past 48 hours you have had or you are currently experiencing:
— fever (i.e. chills/sweats) or cough (new or worsening)

Or:
Two or more of the following symptoms (new or worsening):
— sore throat
— runny nose/nasal congestion
— headache
— shortness of breath/difficulty breathing

Call 811 if you cannot access the online self-assessment or wish to speak with a nurse about your symptoms.

When a new case of COVID-19 is confirmed, public health works to identify and test people who may have come in close contact with that person. Those individuals who have been confirmed are being directed to self-isolate at home, away from the public, for 14 days.

Anyone who has travelled outside of Atlantic Canada must self-isolate for 14 days. As always, any Nova Scotian who develops symptoms of acute respiratory illness should limit their contact with others until they feel better.

It remains important for Nova Scotians to strictly adhere to the public health order and directives – practise good hand washing and other hygiene steps, maintain a physical distance when and where required. Wearing a non-medical mask is mandatory in most indoor public places.

Rules concerning interprovincial travel within Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador have changed. The premiers of all four Atlantic provinces are cautioning against non-essential travel into neighbouring provinces. Currently, all non-essential travel into Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador requires a 14-day self-isolation. All public health directives of each province must be followed. Under Nova Scotia’s Health Protection Act order, visitors from outside Atlantic Canada must self-isolate for 14 days unless they completed their self-isolation in another Atlantic province.

Nova Scotians can find accurate, up-to-date information, handwashing posters and fact sheets at https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus .

Businesses and other organizations can find information to help them safely reopen at https://novascotia.ca/reopening-nova-scotia .

Quick Facts:
— testing numbers are updated daily at https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus
— a state of emergency was declared under the Emergency Management Act on March 22, 2020 and extended to Jan. 10, 2021
— online booking for COVID-19 testing appointments is available for Nova Scotians getting a test at all primary assessment centres or at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax

Additional Resources:
Government of Canada: https://canada.ca/coronavirus

Government of Canada information line 1-833-784-4397 (toll-free)

The Mental Health Provincial Crisis Line is available 24/7 to anyone experiencing a mental health or addictions crisis, or someone concerned about them, by calling 1-888-429-8167 (toll-free)

If you need help with a non-crisis mental health or addiction concern call Community Mental Health and Addictions at 1-855-922-1122 (toll-free) weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Kids Help Phone is available 24/7 by calling 1-800-668-6868 (toll-free)

For help or information about domestic violence 24/7, call 1-855-225-0220 (toll-free)

For more information about COVID-19 testing and online booking, visit https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/symptoms-and-testing/

The COVID-19 self-assessment is at https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/
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35 new COVID cases in the region, and two more deaths reported – KitchenerToday.com

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Region of Waterloo Public Health reported 35 new COVID-19 cases on its dashboard Sunday afternoon.

This brings the new total up to 8,947 cases for the region since March.

The number of active cases has decreased to 780 from 857 since Saturday.

Here are some other updates from the Region’s COVID summary dashboard on Sunday:

  • 7,975 resolved cases (89 per cent).
  • There have been 189 deaths in the region linked to the virus. The latest was confirmed on January 24.
  • 41 cases are currently hospitalized (13 in ICU). 

There are currently 37 active outbreaks in the region:

  • Stirling Heights long-term care (two cases in staff)
  • Golden Years long-term care (one case in staff)
  • Chartwell Terrace on the Square (one case in staff)
  • Chartwell Elmira Retirement Residence (42 cases in residents, 19 in staff, one death)
  • St. Andrew’s Terrace long-term care (two cases in residents, three in staff)
  • Highland Place Retirement Home (10 cases in residents, eight in staff, one death)
  • Columbia Forest long-term care (12 cases in staff, three in residents)
  • Briarfield Retirement Residence (one case in a resident, three in staff)
  • Chartwell Westmount long-term care (62 cases in residents, 47 in staff, seven deaths)
  • Forest Heights long-term care (five cases in staff)
  • Cambridge Country Manor (60 cases in residents, 70 in staff, 16 deaths)
  • The Village at Winston Park Retirement Home (30 in residents, 35 in staff, six deaths)
  • Luther Village on the Park Retirement Home (one staff case)
  • Cobble Creek Retirement Home (eight resident cases, three in staff)
  • St. Luke’s Place Long-Term Care (one case in staff, one in resident)
  • Derbecker’s Heritage House Long-Term Care (one case in staff, one in resident)
  • The Village at University Gates Retirement Home (one staff case)
  • Congregate setting 22 (four cases)
  • Congregate setting 20 (two in staff, one resident)
  • Congregate setting 17 (six in staff, four residents)
  • Congregate setting 18 (18 cases)
  • Trades and Related Services 8 (four cases)
  • Warehousing 3 (three cases)
  • General office setting 7 (six cases)
  • General office setting 6 (three cases)
  • Financial institution 1 (four cases)
  • Manufacturing/industrial 24 (five cases)
  • Manufacturing/industrial 22 (two cases)
  • Retail 4 (four cases)
  • Manufacturing/industrial 17 (27 cases)
  • Food processing workplace 1 (161 cases)
  • Public school board program (three cases)
  • BrightPath Childcare Centre – Maple Grove (nine cases)
  • St. Mary’s General Hospital – 3 East Unit
  • Grand River Hospital Mental Health Unit
  • Grand River Hospital Children’s Unit 3D N
  • St. Mary’s General Hospital 7th floor

The outbreaks at a congregate setting, two manufacturing and industrial workplaces, and an automobile sales/service workplace have ended.

Below is the provincial COVID-19 summary for Sunday:

  • 255,002 total cases (2,417 new today). 
  • 225,046 cases are resolved (88 per cent).
  • 5,803 related deaths (50 new today).
  • 1,436 hospitalized (392 in the ICU).

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Ontario teen who died of COVID-19 was refugee who worked as long-term care home cleaner – CBC.ca

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An Ontario teenager who worked as a cleaner at a long-term care home and died after being diagnosed with COVID-19 was a Syrian refugee who moved to Canada with his family in 2016, according to the CEO of Paramount Fine Foods, Mohamad Fakih.

Yassin Dabeh, 19, of London, Ont., worked at Middlesex Terrace, a long-term care home in nearby Delaware, Ont.

“The family had four boys and one daughter, and now they’ve lost Yassin,” said Fakih, a philanthropist and businessman, who spoke with Yassin’s father to offer his condolences.

“He said [Yassin] wanted to study, to do something more for his life, and he joined this company that does the cleaning for LTCs,” he explained.

Fakih said he offered to organize a fundraiser to cover the costs of a funeral for the young man but was told that it was already taken care of.

“[The father] was very emotional about it. He told me how the community came together for the funeral costs and how he’s very appreciative of how the community is coming together to help them.”

Youngest in the region with COVID-19 to die

In an interview with CBC News on Saturday, Dr. Alex Summers, the Middlesex-London Health Unit’s associate medical officer of health, said the teen is the youngest person in the region diagnosed with the virus to die.

“It’s certainly a very sad day and a reminder of how the impact of this pandemic can be felt,” he said.

The health unit has not confirmed Dabeh’s identity or workplace, only that he was a male teenager who was a staff member at a long-term care home.

APANS Health Services, which is the parent company of Middlesex Terrace, issued a statement extending its ‘deep sympathies to the family and friends of Yassin Dabeh.’ (Hillary Johnstone/CBC)

Summers said the diagnosis came within the last four weeks, and that the teen’s infectious period had actually ended. An investigation into his death is underway he said. 

He could not say whether the teen had underlying health conditions. 

Summers previously said the teen was not working at a long-term care home while infectious, but the health unit now says the teen did work at the home for a short period of time, early on in the infectious period, before going into isolation.

Mary Raithby, CEO of APANS Health Services, the parent company of Middlesex Terrace, said in a statement that “we extend our deep sympathies to the family and friends of Yassin Dabeh.”

“Out of respect for their loss, we are declining to make any comments at this time.”

Fakih said a funeral is being planned in the next couple of days. He also said the entire family has also been diagnosed with the coronavirus “because of the son coming back home every time after work.”

Fakih, who was born in Lebanon and now lives in Toronto, said he and some friends are cooking 500 meals to give out to those in need in their community. They’ve decided to hold the event in Yassin’s honour, he said.

“It’s an Islamic tradition when somebody dies. It’s good to do food and gifts for people in need. We believe that helps in the blessing of their soul.”

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As COVID surges in Canada, workers ‘can’t afford to get sick’ – Al Jazeera English

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Toronto, Canada – When Carolina Lopez woke up with a sore throat in November, her mind immediately went to the worst-case scenario: COVID-19.

For the Toronto resident, who works two jobs as a restaurant server and cleaner, a COVID-positive diagnosis would not only affect her health – it could mean losing the pay she needs for rent, groceries and transportation.

“Every time you go outside, you are at risk of getting sick and you just can’t afford to get sick,” Lopez told Al Jazeera. “If you get sick and stay home, you’re not going to receive money to pay for your basic needs.”

Lopez ultimately did not have COVID-19 and she recovered from her illness after a few days.

But her fear that a positive COVID-19 diagnosis would spell financial disaster is shared by thousands of essential workers around the world and in Canada, where a surge of infections is pushing healthcare systems in many provinces to the brink.

The second wave has also prompted growing calls for paid sick leave in Canada’s most populous province, Ontario, where worker advocates, city officials and public health experts say workers cannot stay home when they are ill, which fuels the spread of the virus.

Supporters tape photographs of migrant worker Rogelio Munoz Santos, who died from COVID-19, during a pro-immigration rally in Toronto, Ontario on July 4 [File: Chris Helgren/Reuters]

Workplace outbreaks

Ontario on January 22 reported a seven-day average of 2,703 new daily COVID-19 cases – and the province overtook Quebec on Saturday to record the most total infections in the country, at more than 252,000 since the pandemic began.

Amid recent rising cases and hospitalisations, the Ontario government issued an emergency stay-at-home order earlier this month, imposing stricter lockdown measures until at least February 10 across the province.

But Premier Doug Ford did not address the growing demand for paid sick leave for essential workers – fuelling frustrations among workers’ advocates who say such a measure is necessary to stem infections.

Shortly after he was elected in 2018, Ford moved to eliminate emergency leave provisions for workers in Ontario that were introduced by the previous government, including two guaranteed sick days. Currently, Ontario workers can take three unpaid sick days once they have worked for two weeks. The province also passed new rules to allow employees to take “job-protected infectious disease emergency leave” for reasons related to COVID-19 – but that too is unpaid.

There are currently 256 workplace outbreaks in the province, according to most recent data, including 46 in retail and 24 in food processing.

Dr Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health, recently recommended Ontario guarantee five permanent paid sick days for workers after three months of employment. That figure, she said, should increase to 10 days during an emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

De Villa said in her report that only 42 percent of Canadian workers have access to paid sick days, while that rate drops to around 10 percent for low-wage workers, many of whom have been deemed essential during the pandemic.

Toronto’s board of health also urged the province to take up de Villa’s recommendations on paid sick days, as well as ensure all workers could take protected, paid leave to care for loved ones who are ill.

Joe Cressy, a Toronto city councillor and chair of the board, said: “The truth is, COVID will continue to spread through essential workplaces and our communities unless we guarantee paid sick leave now.”

Deena Ladd, executive director of the Workers’ Action Centre, a group that advocates for better workplace and employment conditions in Ontario, said essential workers are living in a state of constant stress because they have to choose between going to work sick or staying home without pay.

“I think essential workers are very worried and feeling that they’re putting their health on the line every time they go to work because they don’t have paid sick days,” she told Al Jazeera.

In particular, guaranteed paid sick leave would benefit, low-wage front-line workers including taxi drivers, factory workers and cashiers at supermarkets and big-box stores, she said. “They’re precarious, they’re low wage or they’re casual so all these factors combined with the fact that we’re seeing infection rates rise lends itself to a sense of stress and panic.”

Federal benefit

In September, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced a programme to provide financial assistance to essential workers that need to take time off due to COVID-19. The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit covers up to 55 percent of an employee’s earnings for a maximum of $595 per week for up to two weeks.

In a statement to Al Jazeera, the office of Canada’s Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, said the measure aims to provide workers with paid sick leave “if it is not a protection provided by their provincial government”.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has introduced a federal programme to provide financial assistance to essential workers [File: Blair Gable/Reuters]

“We did this so that no worker – regardless of where they live in Canada, or who they work for – has to choose between going to work while impacted by COVID-19 and putting food on the table,” the statement read.

But Ladd said only workers who have COVID-19 symptoms and have lost 50 percent of their work in a one-week period can apply for the programme. Even if they meet those criteria, they typically need to wait two to four weeks to receive the funds, she added.

“And so provincially mandated sick days are critical because they mean that workers will not have their wages disrupted if they’re sick or if they have to take a day off to get a COVID test.”

Systemic issues

Harry Godfrey, press secretary for the Ontario Ministry of Labour, told Al Jazeera that while negotiating a COVID-19 economic stimulus plan – the Safe Restart Agreement – with the federal government, it was agreed that Ottawa would provide paid sick leave support.

“We appreciate the federal government’s work on paid sick leave, which as they note, mean workers do not have to choose between going to work and putting food on the table. To date, over 110,000 Ontarians have applied for the paid sick benefit,” Godfrey said in a statement.

Godfrey also noted that the provincial government legislated an amendment to the Employment Standards Act that “ensures that those who stay home to self-isolate or care for a loved one will not be fired”.

Speaking to reporters this month, Ford said instating paid sick days at the provincial level would be doubling up on what the federal government is already providing – and said his government would not be offering paid sick leave subsidies.

Front-line workers stage a ‘die-in’ protest to demand paid sick days for all workers, in front of the Ontario provincial legislature in Toronto, Ontario on January 13, 2021 [Carlos Osorio/Reuters]

But mayors across Ontario, the provincial opposition party, and public health and medical experts, have urged the Ford government to move on paid sick leave quickly as a way to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Dr Abdu Sharkawy, an infectious disease specialist with the University Health Network in Toronto, said it “boggles” his mind that Ontario has not done so yet.

Meanwhile, he said people of colour are being disproportionately affected by the pandemic in the province and many often cannot self-isolate either, without fear of infecting their loved ones.

“These are often people living in households that are multigenerational in nature,” Sharkawy told Al Jazeera. “When they become sick, they don’t have the luxury of being in their space, using their own bathroom, having their own sleeping quarters, their own room to separate from the other people in their family safely.”

He said the province’s calls for people to stay home are insufficient when it is not addressing the root causes of the virus’s spread. “I’m very disappointed when all I hear is better stay home or do better,” Sharkawy said.

“It’s falling on deaf ears when you’re not changing the systemic issues that are preventing people from doing better and giving them the job security and paid sick leave that will incentivise them and give them some support.”

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