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The latest developments on COVID-19 in Canada on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021 – Cochrane Today

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The latest developments on the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada (all times eastern):

6:35 p.m.

British Columbia is reporting 589 new cases of COVID-19, along with seven deaths.

But the province cautions the numbers are considered provisional due to delayed updates in its lab reporting system.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix say in a statement that the federal government’s approval of the vaccines by Oxford-AstraZeneca and Verity-Serum Institute of India is encouraging news.

More than 250,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., with roughly 73,000 of those being second doses.

5:40 p.m.

Alberta has recorded 356 new COVID-19 cases and three additional deaths. 

There were 269 people in hospital with the virus, including 55 in intensive care. 

The test positivity rate was 3.9 per cent.

Two doctors who co-chair the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association’s pandemic committee are urging the Alberta government to hold off on easing restrictions on Monday.

They also think restrictions should be tightened on bars, restaurants and pubs, which they say are overcrowded and not following existing rules.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro says he still needs to see latest data, but so far there’s been nothing that warrants alarm.

4:30 p.m.

Thunder Bay and Simcoe Muskoka will be in lockdown starting Monday based on COVID-19 trends.

Ontario announced the decision on Friday after local leaders in Thunder Bay called for help amid growing spread of the virus.

Public health restrictions will loosen in seven other Ontario public health units on Monday.

Data has shown COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations dropped after strict public health measures took effect in January, but numbers are starting to rise again.

4:10 p.m.

Prince Edward Island is reporting one new case of COVID-19 today.

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Heather Morrison says the case involves a woman in her 20s, adding that the infection does not appear to be directly linked to other cases announced this week.

She says health officials are still trying to determine the source of an outbreak of three cases in the Summerside area, about 60 kilometres west of Charlottetown.

Morrison says COVID-19 testing is being offered in the Summerside area for people between the ages of 14 and 21 on Saturday and for those between 22 and 29 on Sunday.

3:10 p.m.

Saskatchewan health officials announced 153 new cases of COVID-19 and no new deaths Friday. 

There were 155 people in hospital, with 16 in intensive care. 

The province says 3,545 vaccine doses were administered Thursday for a total of 69,451.

1:55 p.m.

New Brunswick is reporting one new travel-related case of COVID-19 today involving a person in their 20s in the Moncton region.

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell says there are 41 active known cases in the province and that one person is in hospital with the disease, in intensive care.

She says if the number of new cases remains low, all areas of the province may be able to move from the “orange” to the lower, “yellow” pandemic-alert level on March 7.

Under the new rules, mask-wearing will still be required for indoor activities but not outdoor ones, and restrictions will be eased for entertainment centres, churches and sporting activities.

1:50 p.m.

Health officials in Manitoba say one more person has died due to COVID-19 and there are 64 more cases. 

The number of new infections has been steadily decreasing in Manitoba over recent weeks. 

There are 191 people in hospital due to the novel coronavirus. 

Dr. Joss Reimer, the medical lead for Manitoba’s vaccination task force, says there’s no indication yet about how much of the newly approved AstraZeneca vaccine will come to the province. 

But she says 250 clinics and pharmacies are ready to provide doses when it arrives.

1:35 p.m.

Nunavut is reporting one new case of COVID-19 today.

The new case is in Arviat, a community of about 2,800 and the only place in Nunavut with active cases.

Arviat, which continues to see an outbreak of the virus, has been in a strict lockdown for over 100 days.

All schools and non-essential businesses in the community are closed and travel is restricted.

There are 26 active cases in Nunavut, all in Arviat.

1:10 p.m.

Newfoundland and Labrador health authorities are reporting four new cases of COVID-19.

Officials say they are also battling the province’s first outbreak at a hospital.

Though Eastern Health officials will not provide exact numbers, they say fewer than 10 people are affected by an outbreak at St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital in St. John’s.

Public health says a wider outbreak in the St. John’s metro region is ongoing and there are now 11 people in hospital with the virus, including five in intensive care.

12:10 p.m.

Canada’s chief public health officer says the daily COVID-19 case counts are nearly 75 per cent higher than they were at the peak of the first wave of the pandemic last spring.

Dr. Theresa Tam says the average daily case counts in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia have increased between eight and 14 per cent over the previous week.

She says that as of Thursday evening, there have now been 858,217 COVID-19 cases in Canada, including 21,865 deaths, since the beginning of the pandemic.

Tam warns that COVID-19 variants can still emerge and those that spread more quickly can become predominant.

12:05 p.m.

Health officials in Nova Scotia are reporting 10 new cases of COVID-19 today.

Nine of the new cases have been identified in the health region that includes Halifax, and one is in the eastern region.

Of the new cases, five are close contacts of previously reported cases, three are under investigation and two are related to travel outside Atlantic Canada.

12 p.m.

Ontario’s science advisers say prioritizing COVID-19 vaccinations based on neighbourhood as well as age could prevent thousands of cases and reduce the number of deaths due to the pandemic.

The Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table makes the findings in a new report released today.

The group says the pandemic has taken a disproportionate toll on older adults and residents of disadvantaged and racialized urban neighbourhoods. 

It says targeting those residents for vaccination first could minimize deaths, illness and hospitalizations across Ontario. 

11:50 a.m.

Procurement Minister Anita Anand says Canada has secured two million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine through a deal with Verity Pharmaceutical Canada Inc. and the Serum Institute of India.

She says 500,000 of those doses will be delivered in the coming weeks.

Another 1.5 million doses will arrive by mid-May.

This is on top of the 20 million doses already secured through an earlier deal with AstraZeneca.

Health Canada approved the vaccine for use in Canada earlier today.

11:25 a.m.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is calling on the federal government to work to waive patents on COVID-19 vaccines to give poorer countries greater access to doses.

Singh joined with former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations Stephen Lewis today to demand Ottawa support developing nations at an upcoming World Trade Organization meeting.

Those countries are asking for a patent waiver, which would allow them to produce generic versions of the vaccines.

Singh is also calling for the WTO to suspend its dispute resolution mechanism as it applies to poorer countries so that pharmaceutical companies cannot sue them over vaccine production.

(The Canadian Press)

11 a.m.

Quebec is reporting 815 new COVID-19 infections and 11 more deaths attributed to the virus.

Health officials say hospitalizations dropped by 13, to 620, and 119 people were in intensive care, a drop of three.

Quebec has now vaccinated more than 400,500 people with a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine after administering 12,038 doses on Thursday.

10:40 a.m.

Ontario’s ministry of health says there are 1,258 new cases of COVID-19 in the province today.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says that of those new cases 362 are in Toronto, 274 are in Peel Region and 104 are in York Region.

There were also 28 more deaths linked to the virus in Ontario since the last daily update.

8:30 a.m.

Health Canada has approved the COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca, the third to be given the green light for national use.

Canada has pre-ordered 20 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was co-developed by researchers at the University of Oxford.

It will also receive up to 1.9 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through the global vaccine-sharing initiative known as COVAX by the end of June.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021.

The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version, based on information provided by Dr. Theresa Tam, erroneously stated that daily COVID-19 case counts are nearly 75 times higher now than they were at the peak of the first wave. In fact, Tam later clarified they are 75 per cent higher than at the peak of the first wave.

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COVID-19 in Ottawa: Fast Facts for April 10, 2021 – CTV Edmonton

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OTTAWA —
Good morning. Here is the latest news on COVID-19 and its impact on Ottawa.

Fast Facts:

  • Ottawa’s top doctor warns schools could remain closed after the April break next week
  • Ottawa sets new record for COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations on Friday
  • The city of Ottawa admits it doesn’t have enough supply to vaccinate residents 50 and older in high-priority neighbourhoods
  • Kingston closes popular waterfront park to prevent COVID-19 spread

COVID-19 by the numbers in Ottawa (Ottawa Public Health data):

  • New COVID-19 cases: 242 new cases on Friday
  • Total COVID-19 cases: 19,030
  • COVID-19 cases per 100,000 (previous seven days): 146.0
  • Positivity rate in Ottawa: 9.2 per cent (April 2 to April 8)
  • Reproduction Number: 1.05 (seven day average)

Testing:

Who should get a test?

Ottawa Public Health says you can get a COVID-19 test at an assessment centre, care clinic, or community testing site if any of the following apply to you:

  • You are showing COVID-19 symptoms;
  • You have been exposed to a confirmed case of the virus, as informed by Ottawa Public Health or exposure notification through the COVID Alert app;
  • You are a resident or work in a setting that has a COVID-19 outbreak, as identified and informed by Ottawa Public Health;
  • You are a resident, a worker or a visitor to long-term care, retirement homes, homeless shelters or other congregate settings (for example: group homes, community supported living, disability-specific communities or congregate settings, short-term rehab, hospices and other shelters);
  • You are a person who identifies as First Nations, Inuit or Métis;
  • You are a person travelling to work in a remote First Nations, Inuit or Métis community;
  • You received a preliminary positive result through rapid testing;
  • You require testing 72 hours before a scheduled (non-urgent or emergent) surgery (as recommended by your health care provider);
  • You are a patient and/or their 1 accompanying escort tra­velling out of country for medical treatment;
  • You are an international student that has passed their 14-day quarantine period;
  • You are a farm worker;
  • You are an educator who cannot access pharmacy-testing; or
  • You are in a targeted testing group as outlined in guidance from the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

Where to get tested for COVID-19 in Ottawa:

There are several sites for COVID-19 testing in Ottawa. To book an appointment, visit https://www.ottawapublichealth.ca/en/shared-content/assessment-centres.aspx

  • The Brewer Ottawa Hospital/CHEO Assessment Centre: Open Monday to Sunday, 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • The Moodie Care and Testing Centre: Open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Open Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. (testing only)
  • The Heron Care and Testing Centre: Open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • The Ray Friel Care and Testing Centre: Open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (testing only)
  • COVID-19 Assessment Centre at Howard Darwin Centennial Arena: Open daily 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
  • Centretown Community Health Centre: Open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Sandy Hill Community Health Centre: Open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 pm.
  • Somerset West Community Health Centre: Open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Wednesday.
  • COVID-19 Drive-Thru Assessment Centre at 300 Coventry Road: Open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Vaccine eligibility screening tool:

To check and see if you are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in Ottawa, click here

COVID-19 screening tool:

The COVID-19 screening tool for students heading back to in-person classes can be found here.

Symptoms:

Classic Symptoms: fever, new or worsening cough, shortness of breath

Other symptoms: sore throat, difficulty swallowing, new loss of taste or smell, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, pneumonia, new or unexplained runny nose or nasal congestion

Less common symptoms: unexplained fatigue, muscle aches, headache, delirium, chills, red/inflamed eyes, croup

Ottawa’s top doctor warns it’s “more likely than not” that all elementary and secondary schools in Ottawa will be closed for in-person learning after the April break.

“I am now thinking the probability that schools will close to in-person learning after the spring break is higher than the probability the COVID-19 situation will improve in time to keep schools open,” said Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa’s medical officer of health.

“My heart is heavy because I know how important schools are to the health of our community.”

Etches says Ottawa Public Health will make a decision by next Wednesday on whether schools will reopen or close after the April Break.

Ottawa Public Health reported 242 new cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa on Friday, the highest one-day case count in the capital during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The surging numbers prompted the city’s medical officer of health to issue a rallying cry to Ottawa residents, saying the city has reached a key point in the COVID-19 “marathon.”

“We are tired. We’re fatigued. We want this to be over. And this is the point in our COVID marathon where we’re hitting the wall,” Dr. Vera Etches told reporters Friday. “This is our defining moment. It’s a moment where we’ve got to break through that wall.”

Ottawa’s positivity rate increased to 9.2 per cent for the period of April 2 to 8 from 8.8 per cent. Ottawa’s weekly incidence rate is now 146 cases per 100,000 people.

Residents aged 50 and over in three hot spot postal code areas in Ottawa can now book an appointment to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, but the city warns it doesn’t have enough vaccine supply to vaccinate everyone.

On Friday, Ontario opened vaccine appointments at community clinics to residents born in 1971 or earlier who live in certain “hot spots.” In Ottawa, the hot spots have been identified as postal codes K1T, K1V, K2V.

A memo from Dr. Vera Etches and Ottawa’s general manager of emergency and protective services Anthony Di Monte said residents 50 years of age and older living in the provincially identified “hot spots” of K1T, K1V and K2V are eligible for vaccine appointments at community clinics.

Residents living in the high-priority neighbourhoods of Emerald Woods – Sawmill Creek and Greenboro East and Ledbury – Heron Gate and Ridgemont will have the option to book at either a community clinic or at a pop-up clinic.

COVID-19 vaccine Ottawa immunization clinic

One day after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared in Kingston’s University District, the city is closing the popular Breakwater Park until the end of the university school year to prevent large gatherings.

Mayor Bryan Paterson has issued an emergency order to close Breakwater Park for the next 10 days.

“This timeline coincides with students move-out, but can be extended if needed. As one of our most popular community parks, closing it is a last resort,” said Paterson in a statement

“Yesterday, however, we saw troubling instances of overcrowding, which is especially concerning given the current outbreak in the nearby University District.”

Pictures on social media showed dozens of people in the popular park along the waterfront on Thursday.  During the provincewide shutdown, outdoor gatherings are limited to a maximum of five people.

Kingston's Breakwater Park

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Average age of Quebec COVID-19 patients has dropped by 10 to 15 years, doctors say – National Post

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MONTREAL — Over the past two to three weeks, Dr. Francois Marquis, head of intensive care at Montreal’s Maisonneuve-Rosemont hospital, says he started noticing the average age of COVID-19 patients dropping.

People arriving at the hospital are on average, about 10 to 15 years younger than earlier patients in need of medical care after contracting COVID-19, he said in an interview Wednesday.

“We are starting to see what was very unlikely during the first wave: 30 or 40-year-olds without any previous medical history, people in good health,” Marquis said.

“They’re not seeing a doctor, they’re not taking any kind of medication, they don’t have diabetes, they don’t have high blood pressure — they just get sick.”

Marquis’s observations echo a warning earlier this week from Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, who said health officials across the country are reporting rising numbers of younger patients in hospitals who soon need intensive care.

“Many of them deteriorate quite quickly and have to be admitted to the ICU,” she said.

Dr. Gaston De Serres, an epidemiologist with Quebec’s public health institute, said the proportion of Quebecers over 80 in hospital with COVID-19 has been declining since mid-March — largely due to vaccination.

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He said it’s not just the proportion of hospital patients who are younger that’s increasing, the overall number of younger patients is rising as well. De Serres said there were 40 people between 50 and 59 years old who were hospitalized the week of March 7. During the week of March 28, there were 54.

But hospitalizations are still not rising significantly among people under 30. “It’s younger,” he said of the average age of patients. “It’s not young.”

Ten people between 20 and 29 years old were hospitalized with COVID-19 in Quebec the week of March 28, up from five two weeks earlier, De Serres said.

“If you have more cases, you will clearly have more hospitalizations, but the proportion of all hospitalized cases will remain small because these younger age groups are very low risk of being hospitalized.”

De Serres said he thinks more younger people are getting sick because the coronavirus variants of concern are more transmissible and they lead to more severe illness more frequently.

Mike Benigeri, director of the data bureau at the Institut national d’excellence en sante et services sociaux, a Quebec government health-care research institute, said that over the past two weeks, there has been a 40 per cent increase in the number of people aged 40 to 69 who have been infected with COVID-19. He said the percentage is even higher among people aged 18 to 30.

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Marquis said older people and those with other medical conditions may notice a COVID-19 infection sooner. People who are healthier may not seek medical attention until they’re very ill, he added.

“They will push the limits of endurance up to the point when they say, OK, it’s enough, I really need to go to the hospital,” he said.

Despite the odds of dying being low among younger people, that doesn’t mean the consequences among the small group who do get severely ill are any smaller, he said.

“If you’re that unlucky guy, well, you’re going to die — and you’re not going die 1.5 per cent, you’re going be fully dead.”

Quebec Premier Francois Legault has repeatedly said that with vaccination protecting older people, the province will be able to tolerate more COVID-19 cases.

Dr. Quoc Nguyen, a gerontologist at the Universite de Montreal hospital centre, said while that may be true when it comes to deaths, it may not be the case for ICU capacity.

“When we look at one case in December versus one case in March, it seems that for a single case we have more intensive care than we used to before, but we don’t necessarily have more hospitalization,” he said.

It’s ICU capacity that worries Marquis. His ICU is supposed to have 24 beds, but because staff members have left the health-care system — particularly nurses — it now has a capacity of 14: seven beds dedicated to COVID-19 patients and seven for everyone else.

“I am really afraid that in two weeks we’re going to be in the same place as Ontario is right now and I don’t think that we can deal with that many patients,” he said.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has imposed a four-week stay-at-home order after a third wave of COVID-19 started to overwhelm the health system.

“They’re going to saturate the ICU availability very, very quickly for a very long time,” Marquis said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 8, 2021.

——

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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Canada’s hospitals deploy artificial lungs, scramble for staff as COVID-19 hits younger patients

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artificial lungs

By Anna Mehler Paperny and Allison Martell

TORONTO (Reuters) -Younger Canadians are bearing the brunt of the nation’s latest COVID-19 surge, creating growing demand for artificial lungs and a struggle to maintain staffing in critical care units as hospitals make last-ditch efforts to save patients.

Treatment with artificial lungs, known as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, is much more likely to be deployed for patients under age 65, explained Marcelo Cypel, surgical director for the extracorporeal life support program at Toronto’s University Health Network (UHN).

Last week, there were a record 19 ECMO patients at UHN, 17 of them with severe COVID-19. When the sickest COVID-19 patients’ lungs fill with fluid and mechanical ventilators can no longer do the job, artificial lungs can save lives.

By Monday, doctors had weaned some off the machines and were down to 14 ECMO patients, 12 of them with COVID-19.

The need for these artificial lungs reflects a change in Canada‘s epidemic, which has taken a turn for the worse, with new cases surging and outbreaks hitting workplaces and schools.

With many seniors vaccinated and new, far more contagious coronavirus variants circulating widely, younger patients are increasingly arriving in intensive care.

“It’s very different now than the first wave, when we saw older people with comorbidities,” Cypel said. “We’re seeing more … young essential workers.”

The ECMO situation is under control for now, but things can change very quickly, Cypel cautioned.

When hospital systems in other countries were overwhelmed, they had to stop using ECMO because it requires a lot of staff – seven or more people to start the treatment.

About 55% of people who receive the therapy survive, Cypel said. However, they are often left with “severe physical limitations” from their extended hospital stay, he added.

Many of Canada‘s provinces are in the grip of a worsening third COVID-19 wave, as they struggle to hasten vaccine rollouts. The country reported more than 6,200 new cases on Monday, with the percentage of people testing positive for the virus up to 3.8%.

‘SEEING BURNOUT’

In British Columbia, where hospitals are bracing for a surge in demand for intensive care unit (ICU) beds caused by the highly concerning P.1 virus variant first discovered in, and now ravaging, Brazil, critical care doctor Del Dorscheid from Vancouver’s St. Paul’s Hospital is more worried about staffing than artificial lung use.

On a given shift, he said, a third of the staff are working overtime.

“They’re working so hard to find bodies to fill those empty spots,” he said. “I wouldn’t say we’re seeing more mistakes. Not yet, anyways. But we are certainly seeing burnout.”

For ICUs, there is no end in sight. As of Tuesday, there were 497 COVID-19 patients in Ontario’s ICUs, a new high. Last week, experts advising the provincial government said that could rise to 800 by the end of April even with a new stay-at-home order – or approach 1,000 without it. The province stopped short of a new stay-at-home order.

New restrictions implemented in Ontario last week change little for hardest-hit areas. In Toronto, patios for outdoor bars and restaurants closed, and a plan to reopen salons was shelved. On Monday, hard-hit Peel, west of Toronto, moved on its own to suspend in-person classes at schools for two weeks.

Canada‘s vaccination rate has picked up after a slow start, with 15% of the population getting at least one shot. But data from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences shows that the Ontario communities at highest risk of COVID-19 transmission also have the lowest rates of vaccination.

These communities tend to have a high proportion of residents unable to work from home, many of them non-white immigrants holding down jobs at high risk of virus exposure.

Some lack cars to drive to vaccination sites or paid time off to get the vaccine, said Brampton doctor Amanpreet Brar. Some of the hardest-hit neighborhoods lack pharmacies that dispense COVID-19 vaccines.

“It really reflects systemic inequities we see in our society,” said Brar. “They’re considered non-essential, while their work is considered essential.”

(Editing by Denny Thomas and Bill Berkrot)

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