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Watson proposes crackdown on gatherings as COVID-19 numbers rise

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OTTAWA —
In the face of a significant rise in new positive COVID-19 case numbers in the nation’s capital, Ottawa’s mayor is proposing a stiff crackdown on private gatherings, which are getting the blame for the rise in transmission.

OPH reported 52 new cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa on Tuesday along with four new deaths, and 61 new cases and one new death on Monday.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he will be making announcements over the next day or two to about measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in the province’s hotspots, including Ottawa.

Speaking on Newstalk 580 CFRA’s “Ottawa Now with Kristy Cameron”, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said he’s pushing for a lower limit on indoor gatherings in private residences.

“I told (Premier Ford) we need to see those numbers go down. Right now, under provincial regulations you can have 50 people in a private residence and 100 people outside. Well, unless you own a mansion, 50 people is really crammed, as is 100 people in the back yard,” he said.

The gathering limits in place provincially assumed that capacity would be limited by the space to physically distance, but Watson said it appears people are not heeding the message.

“People seem to think, ‘I’m allowed to have 100 people, I’ll invite 100 people over,’ and the virus spreads quickly in those close quarters.”

Watson is calling for a limit of 10 people indoors for private gatherings and 20 outdoors. He said his suggestion would apply to private residences and not to businesses such as banquet halls, restaurants, gyms and bars, which he says are following the rules.

Watson also said the time for warnings has passed.

“People are in breach of the law and they’re going to receive a ticket and it’s going to hit them hard in the pocketbook,” he said. “We’re not fooling around. The numbers are going in the wrong direction. We need to get those numbers down and one of the ways of doing that is to actually come down through by-law and through police and issue these tickets to smarten people up.”

Limit close contacts to limit spread: Dr. Etches

Ottawa’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Vera Etches, is also repeating her calls to limit close contacts and practice pandemic hygiene measures, including physical distancing, mask use, handwashing, and staying home when sick.

“We must limit our close contacts,” she told reporters at a virtual press conference on Tuesday. “Close contacts are people that we see, particularly indoors, without masks on, where physical distance of two metres is not kept, for at least 15 minutes.”

While it takes time to investigate sources for each new case, especially as numbers rise, Dr. Etches pointed to private social gatherings as the source for many.

“Parties, but not just parties. It’s gathering for a drink after work. It’s having some family get-togethers where you might come into close contact with multiple people,” she said. “We all need to reassess our behaviours. Ask yourself, how many close contacts have you had recently? Are you potentially connected to a long chain of transmission? We’ve seen how just one person with cold-like symptoms who attends a small get-together can lead to 40 people testing positive in a short period of time.”

With demand for testing increasing for families with children in school, Dr. Etches asked people who are seeking tests while not having any symptoms or reasonable history of exposure—for example, those who want to attend a social function but want to prove they’re negative first—to not seek a test and to reconsider participating in large social events.

“If you are uncomfortable and feel you need a test because of some of your exposures, stop engaging in those behaviours that gave you exposure to someone within two metres, indoors, without a mask. That will give you peace of mind,” she said. “If you practice those behaviours (physical distancing, wearing a mask, meeting outdoors), you’re not likely to pick up the COVID virus.”

Source: – CTV Edmonton

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Task force worries Trump's rush to approve COVID-19 vaccine will cause concern in Canada – q107.com

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Members of the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccine task force are casting worried eyes at the Trump administration’s political push to get a vaccine approved before the U.S. presidential election in November.

Dr. Joanne Langley, the task force co-chair, and member Alan Bernstein say they are concerned about “vaccine hesitancy” in Canada, the phenomenon where people have doubts about taking a readily available vaccine because of concerns about its safety.

Read more:
How many Canadians have the new coronavirus? Total number of confirmed cases by region

Langley says that when a vaccine against COVID-19 is eventually found, governments and health-care professionals will have to mount a vigorous information campaign to counter opposition.

And it won’t help that U.S. President Donald Trump has said a pandemic-ending vaccine could be rolled out as soon as October, stoking concern that he is rushing the timeline to further his re-election chances on Nov. 3.

Countering concerns that an apparent hurry to approve a vaccine could spook people out of getting it is an ongoing concern among the approximately one dozen health experts on the government’s vaccine advisory panel.

It’s tasked with recommending which vaccine candidates the government should be spending money on.

This past week, Trump chided the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for being “confused” when he testified at a Senate committee that a safe and effective vaccine wouldn’t be ready by U.S. election day.

“As a scientist, and as a citizen, that’s concerning to me because the regulator is designed to be independent of any political influence,” Langley said in an interview. She is an expert in pediatric infectious disease at the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology at Dalhousie University.

“All the decisions are made based on the evidence of science, which includes the immune response, how well it protects, all of the adverse events,” she added. “And really, politicians have nothing to do with that.”

Read more:
Canada’s coronavirus cases are surging, but experts reject it’s a ‘second wave’

Bernstein said if politicians successfully pushed health regulators to approve a vaccine prematurely, that would violate public trust and discourage the widespread vaccine use needed to end the pandemic.

“I think it would be a big mistake. So I don’t see it happening before Nov. 3, no,” Bernstein said in an interview. Bernstein is the head of CIFAR, a Canadian-based global research organization.

“What a disaster it would be if we actually got a great vaccine, but in the U.S., the population didn’t trust it, because they felt that the decision was being compromised.”

In Canada, the federal government has made advance purchase deals with a handful of international biotech companies for tens of millions of vaccine doses if they are found to be safe and effective.

Canadian politicians and public health officials have said that widespread use of a vaccine is key to stamping out the novel coronavirus.

Bernstein said the government’s purchasing decisions have been based on recommendations born out of the painstaking research that his advisory group has undertaken. The task force reports to Health Minister Patty Hajdu and Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains.

“They’ve been very conscientious in terms of listening to us, visiting with us, talking with us. Both ministers,” said Bernstein, who was the first president of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. He serves on medical advisory boards in the U.S., Britain and Australia, and with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Science is driving the decisions.”

Langley said there is an onus on governments and health professionals to communicate to Canadians the merits of taking a safe vaccine when a viable candidate is found and approved for use.

“We want to make sure that the Canadian public has a chance to learn about the very high standards that will have to be met for these vaccines,” she said, “and that they feel confident that people have chosen these vaccines with a view to their best interest.”

Read more:
Coronavirus took their lives. Here’s how their families will remember them

Bernstein said Canadians have a high level of trust in the institutions and political leaders.

“I’m not a Liberal or Conservative. I’m not commenting on Prime Minister Trudeau, but just in general, Canadians are pretty trusting, and that trust has been earned.”

Langley and her co-chair Mark Lievonen spent half a day briefing the Liberal cabinet during its two-day retreat in Ottawa this past week.

“It was all about the health consequences for Canadians of COVID and what we know so far, and what we might further be able to do and what the future is going to look like,” said Langley.

The vaccine task force was formally announced by the government in early August but it has been working since June. Over the summer it met in six-hour Zoom sessions at least twice a week, “interviewing various companies, various scientists, comparing notes with other national task forces to hear what they’re up to,” said Bernstein.

He and Langley are hopeful at least one viable vaccine candidate will emerge before the end of December from the several ongoing human trials.

Read more:
Trump contradicts health officials, claims coronavirus vaccine could be ready next month

They both say it could take several months after that before Health Canada gives the necessary final approval.

“We have to educate the public,” said Langley.

“It will be absolutely our responsibility to make sure that the public is informed so that they’re confident and can get those vaccines for themselves and their families knowing that the regular high standards that we have in Canada for vaccines are all met.”

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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COVID-19 task force worries Trump’s rush to approve vaccine will spook Canadians

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Members of the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccine task force are casting worried eyes at the Trump administration’s political push to get a vaccine approved before the U.S. presidential election in November.

Dr. Joanne Langley, the task force co-chair, and member Alan Bernstein say they are concerned about “vaccine hesitancy” in Canada, the phenomenon where people have doubts about taking a readily available vaccine because of concerns about its safety.

Langley says that when a vaccine against COVID-19 is eventually found, governments and health-care professionals will have to mount a vigorous information campaign to counter opposition.

And it won’t help that President Donald Trump has said a pandemic-ending vaccine could be rolled out as soon as October, stoking concern that he is rushing the timeline to further his re-election chances on Nov. 3.

Countering concerns that an apparent hurry to approve a vaccine could spook people out of getting it is an ongoing concern among the approximately one dozen health experts on the government’s vaccine advisory panel.

It’s tasked with recommending which vaccine candidates the government should be spending money on.

This past week, Trump chided the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for being “confused” when he testified at a Senate committee that a safe and effective vaccine wouldn’t be ready by U.S. election day.

“As a scientist, and as a citizen, that’s concerning to me because the regulator is designed to be independent of any political influence,” Langley said in an interview. She is an expert in pediatric infectious disease at the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology at Dalhousie University.

“All the decisions are made based on the evidence of science, which includes the immune response, how well it protects, all of the adverse events,” she added. “And really, politicians have nothing to do with that.”

Bernstein said if politicians successfully pushed health regulators to approve a vaccine prematurely, that would violate public trust and discourage the widespread vaccine use needed to end the pandemic.

“I think it would be a big mistake. So I don’t see it happening before Nov. 3, no,” Bernstein said in an interview. Bernstein is the head of CIFAR, a Canadian-based global research organization.

“What a disaster it would be if we actually got a great vaccine, but in the U.S., the population didn’t trust it, because they felt that the decision was being compromised.”

In Canada, the federal government has made advance purchase deals with a handful of international biotech companies for tens of millions of vaccine doses if they are found to be safe and effective.

Canadian politicians and public health officials have said that widespread use of a vaccine is key to stamping out the novel coronavirus.

Bernstein said the government’s purchasing decisions have been based on recommendations born out of the painstaking research that his advisory group has undertaken. The task force reports to Health Minister Patty Hajdu and Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains.

“They’ve been very conscientious in terms of listening to us, visiting with us, talking with us. Both ministers,” said Bernstein, who was the first president of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. He serves on medical advisory boards in the U.S., Britain and Australia, and with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Science is driving the decisions.”

Langley said there is an onus on governments and health professionals to communicate to Canadians the merits of taking a safe vaccine when a viable candidate is found and approved for use.

“We want to make sure that the Canadian public has a chance to learn about the very high standards that will have to be met for these vaccines,” she said, “and that they feel confident that people have chosen these vaccines with a view to their best interest.”

Bernstein said Canadians have a high level of trust in the institutions and political leaders.

“I’m not a Liberal or Conservative. I’m not commenting on Prime Minister Trudeau, but just in general, Canadians are pretty trusting, and that trust has been earned.”

Langley and her co-chair Mark Lievonen spent half a day briefing the Liberal cabinet during its two-day retreat in Ottawa this past week.

“It was all about the health consequences for Canadians of COVID and what we know so far, and what we might further be able to do and what the future is going to look like,” said Langley.

The vaccine task force was formally announced by the government in early August but it has been working since June. Over the summer it met in six-hour Zoom sessions at least twice a week, “interviewing various companies, various scientists, comparing notes with other national task forces to hear what they’re up to,” said Bernstein.

He and Langley are hopeful at least one viable vaccine candidate will emerge before the end of December from the several ongoing human trials.

They both say it could take several months after that before Health Canada gives the necessary final approval.

“We have to educate the public,” said Langley.

“It will be absolutely our responsibility to make sure that the public is informed so that they’re confident and can get those vaccines for themselves and their families knowing that the regular high standards that we have in Canada for vaccines are all met.”

Source:- PrinceGeorgeMatters.com

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COVID-19 case identified at Winnipeg daycare – CBC.ca

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Public health officials are warning that a confirmed case of COVID-19 is connected to the Munroe Early Childhood Education Centre in Winnipeg’s Elmwood neighbourhood.

A person who tested positive for the novel coronavirus was in the Chalmers Avenue daycare on Monday in the morning and afternoon, according to a letter sent to parents from the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority on Saturday.

“Be assured that public health investigations begin within 24 hours of a confirmed laboratory test to identify individuals who may have been exposed,” the letter said.

The centre immediately closed off areas that may have been used by the infected person after it was informed of the positive test result. Those areas won’t be used until they have been thoroughly cleaned.

All close contacts in the same room as the person who tested positive are being told to self-isolate for 14 days, but public health officials will contact those people directly.

Officials aren’t providing the name or any identifying information about the person who tested positive.

Parents are asked to monitor their kids for COVID-19 symptoms and isolate them at any sign of illness; those who show symptoms should be tested for the coronavirus.

The centre will remain open to all other children and staff.

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