The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern):
British Columbia’s top doctor is cracking down on the spread of COVID-19 with a new public health order that restricts gatherings in private homes to a maximum of six guests.
The so-called “safe six” rule came as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry reported the highest-ever three-day jump in infections in B.C. with 817 cases confirmed between Friday and Monday.
Henry is also upping what she called her “expectation” that people wear non-medical masks or face coverings in public spaces at all times, though it’s not an order.
She says two schools have been closed temporarily after cases of COVID-19 were detected and there is a new community outbreak associated with the Surrey Pretrial Services Centre.
Alberta is imposing a mandatory 15-person limit on social gatherings in Edmonton and Calgary.
Voluntary measures are also being recommended in the two cities, with people being advised to wear masks at work and limiting their circles to three cohorts.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical health officer, says the warning bell is ringing.
She says she’s concerned about increasing case numbers.
The province is reporting 1,440 cases over the last three days.
Quebec is extending its partial lockdown order for another four weeks.
Premier Francois Legault told a news conference today that the rates of new, daily COVID-19 cases and deaths linked to the virus are too high.
Legault said gyms, bars and most entertainment venues will remain closed until Nov. 23 in the province’s biggest cities.
The premier said businesses that refuse to obey lockdown orders will be fined.
Nova Scotia public health officials are warning passengers on an Air Canada flight from Toronto to Halifax of a potential exposure to COVID-19.
Air Canada Flight 626 on Oct. 24 left Toronto at 9:30 p.m. and landed in Halifax at 12:15 a.m. on Oct. 25.
Officials are asking passengers who sat in rows 18 to 24 and in seats A, B and C to call 811 for advice and to continue to self-isolate.
Officials say anyone exposed to the virus on this flight may develop symptoms up to and including Nov. 7.
New Brunswick is reporting three new cases of COVID-19 and 60 active cases overall.
Two of the new cases are in the Fredericton region and one is in the Campbellton region, where public health officials are battling an ongoing outbreak.
Officials say the two cases in the Fredericton region are travel-related, and the case in Campbellton is under investigation.
New Brunswick has had 331 confirmed COVID-19 cases since the onset of the pandemic, including six deaths.
Health officials have announced a woman in her 80s is the latest death connected to Manitoba’s deadliest outbreak at a care home.
Eighteen people at Parkview Place in Winnipeg have died.
There were 100 new infections announced Monday, the vast majority in the capital city, which is under enhanced restrictions after a stark increase in infections during recent months.
Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer, says the increasing numbers have put pressures on the health-care system.
There are 80 people in hospital and 15 people in intensive care.
There have been 4,349 cases in Manitoba, and 2,117 are currently active.
Fifty-five people have died.
Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting one new case of COVID-19, and five active cases overall.
The new confirmed case is a woman in her 50s who returned to the province from work in Alberta.
Public health officials say she has been self-isolating and contact tracing is underway.
Newfoundland and Labrador has now had 291 cases of COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic, including four deaths.
All of the Alberta politicians who came into contact with a provincial cabinet minister infected with COVID-19 have tested negative for the virus.
Municipal Affairs Minister Tracy Allard tested positive for COVID-19 last Wednesday.
She had interacted during the previous week with Premier Jason Kenney, Transportation Minister Ric McIver and United Conservative MLAs Angela Pitt, Peter Guthrie and Nathan Neudorf.
Kenney received his negative test result last Thursday, but has said he would continue to isolate at home for a week as a precaution.
Christine Myatt, a spokeswoman for Kenney, says the other four have also tested negative and will continue to self-isolate.
Nova Scotia is reporting one new case of COVID-19 and now has five active cases of the virus.
Health officials say the new case is in the central health zone and the person is a close contact of a previously reported travel-related case.
Nova Scotia has confirmed 1,101 COVID-19 cases and 1,031 cases are now resolved.
There have been 65 deaths since the onset of the pandemic.
Officials say an outbreak of COVID-19 at a Manitoba jail began with a guard who worked for two days before developing symptoms.
The outbreak at Headingley Correctional Centre, just west of Winnipeg, now includes 33 inmates and six staff members.
Justice officials say five staff at other facilities and one inmate at a youth correctional facility have also tested positive.
Justice Minister Cliff Cullen says the pandemic is being taken very seriously and the province has developed comprehensive plans, including instructional videos for inmates and staff, to deal with the situation.
He says inmates and guards are required to wear masks and interactions between people has been limited.
The opposition New Democrats and union leaders have been critical of the provincial response to the pandemic behind bars, saying it puts inmates and guards at risk.
Quebec is reporting 808 new COVID-19 cases and 10 additional deaths linked to the virus.
Two of those deaths were in the past 24 hours, while six were from last week and the two others were from an unknown date.
The number of hospitalizations dropped by eight from a day earlier to 543, and the number of patients in intensive care cases decreased by four to 93.
The province has now recorded 100,922 COVID-19 infections and 6,153 deaths — the highest in the country.
Ontario is reporting 851 new cases of COVID-19 today, and six new deaths due to the virus.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says 281 cases are in Toronto, 215 in Peel Region, 90 in York Region and 76 in Ottawa.
The province says it has conducted 28,652 tests since the last daily report, with an additional 17,603 being processed.
In total, 295 people are hospitalized in Ontario due to COVID-19, including 78 in intensive care.
Meanwhile, Premier Doug Ford’s office says it will not announce today whether the province will impose stricter COVID-19 restrictions on two Toronto-area regions.
Ford had said Friday that the experts would look at the caseload in Halton and Durham regions over the weekend to determine whether they need to roll back to a modified Stage 2 of the province’s pandemic recovery plan.
A coalition of about 200 Quebec gym, yoga, dance studio and martial arts business owners say they intend to reopen their doors on Thursday in defiance of provincial health restrictions.
The businesses are calling on Quebec Premier Francois Legault to lift COVID-19 restrictions that were imposed on fitness facilities Oct. 8.
In a statement, they say their facilities were not the source of COVID-19 outbreaks and they contribute to the overall physical and mental health of the population.
They say the lockdown measures will force them out of business after they’ve made significant investments to comply with health rules.
They plan to reopen across the province, but will back down if health authorities are able to demonstrate by Thursday that their operations are sources of outbreaks.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 26, 2020.
The Canadian Press
Why are Covid cases rising among double vaccinated? – Deccan Herald
By Jamie Hartmann-Boyce for The Conversation,
Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK’s chief scientific adviser, has announced that 40 per cent of people admitted to hospital with Covid in the UK have had two doses of a coronavirus vaccine.
At first glance, this rings very serious alarm bells, but it shouldn’t. The vaccines are still working very well.
There are several factors at play that explain why such a high proportion of cases are in the fully vaccinated.
Covid vaccines are extremely effective, but none 100 per cent so. This itself isn’t surprising – flu vaccines aren’t 100 per cent effective either.
Yet in the US alone flu vaccines are estimated to prevent millions of cases of illness, tens of thousands of hospitalisations and thousands of deaths every year. The Covid vaccines are doing the same in the UK right now – all one has to do is compare the curves from the winter wave with those from this summer.
As cases are rising, hospitalisations and deaths are rising too, but not at anywhere near the same level as they were in the winter. In the second half of December 2020 – a time when UK case rates were similar to what they are now – about 3,800 people were being admitted to hospital with Covid each day.
The average now is around 700. So though that’s still higher than we wish it was, it’s a lot lower than it was the last time we had this many infections.
Covid is also growing among the vaccinated because the number of people in the UK who have had both doses is continuing to rise. At the time of writing, 88 per cent of UK adults have had a first dose and 69 per cent a second. As more and more of the population is vaccinated, the relative proportion of those with Covid who have had both jabs will rise.
If you imagine a hypothetical scenario in which 100 per cent of the population is double vaccinated, then 100 per cent of people with Covid, and in hospital with Covid, will also have had both jabs. As with deaths, this doesn’t mean the vaccine isn’t working. It just means the vaccine rollout is going very well.
We also need to remember that the vaccine rollout in the UK has systematically targeted people at the highest risk from Covid.
Older people and people with health conditions that make them more vulnerable were the first to get vaccinated. Once vaccinated, these people (including me) are at much lower risk from Covid than they would have been otherwise – but they are still at risk.
That means that when we compare people with both vaccinations being hospitalised to those who haven’t had both doses, we aren’t comparing like with like. People with both vaccinations are more likely to have been at greater risk from Covid in the first place. This makes them both more likely to be hospitalised and more likely to have already received both of their vaccine doses.
Is Covid different in the vaccinated?
The latest data from Public Health England suggests that against the delta variant, which is now dominant in UK, two doses of any of the vaccines available in Britain are estimated to offer 79 per cent protection against symptomatic Covid and 96 per cent protection against hospitalisation.
We don’t have clear estimates yet from Public Health England on the level of protection against death caused by the delta variant – fortunately, this is partly driven by the fact deaths have been relatively low during this third wave in the UK.
But for the alpha variant, Public Health England data estimates the Pfizer vaccine to be between 95 per cent and 99 per cent effective at preventing death from Covid-19, with the AstraZeneca vaccine estimated to be between 75 per cent and 99 per cent effective. The evidence we have so far doesn’t suggest that the delta variant substantially changes this picture.
There’s lots we still need to learn about how people with both vaccine doses respond to getting infected with the virus. The UK’s Covid Symptom Study is looking at this.
One of the key questions that remain is who is at most risk. Emerging data – released in a preprint, so yet to be reviewed by other scientists – suggests people who are overweight or obese, poorer people, and people with health conditions causing frailty seem to be more likely to get infected after having both jabs.
The preprint also suggests that age itself doesn’t seem to affect chances of developing Covid after being vaccinated, nor does having a long-term condition such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease – but we need more data on this to be sure of these findings.
Generally, the Covid Symptom Study has found that people report the same Covid symptoms whether or not they’ve been vaccinated, but that people who’ve been vaccinated have fewer symptoms over a shorter period of time, suggesting less serious illness. The most commonly reported symptoms in people who had had both doses were headache, runny nose, sneezing, sore throat and loss of smell.
(The author is a Senior Research Fellow, Departmental Lecturer and Director of Evidence-Based Healthcare DPhil Programme, Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, University of Oxford)
Canada’s and Zimbabwe’s paths for COVID-19 vaccination are worlds apart – The Globe and Mail
When mother-of-three Amanda Wood heard that hundreds of coronavirus shots were available for teens, only one thing prevented her from racing to the vaccination site at a Toronto high school – her 13-year-old daughter’s fear of needles.
Wood told Lola: If you get the vaccine you’ll be able to see your friends again. You’ll be able to play sports. And enticed by the promise of resuming a normal, teen life, Lola agreed.
In Zimbabwe, more than 8,000 miles (13,000 kilometers) and a world away from Canada, immunity is harder to obtain.
On a recent day, Andrew Ngwenya sat outside his home in a working-class township in Harare, the capital, pondering how he could save himself and his family from COVID-19.
Ngwenya and his wife De-egma had gone to a hospital that sometimes had spare doses. Hours later, fewer than 30 people had been inoculated. The Ngwenyas, parents of four children, were sent home, still desperate for immunization.
“We are willing to have it but we can’t access it,” he said. “We need it, where can we get it?”
The stories of the Wood and Ngwenya families reflect a world starkly divided between vaccine haves and have nots, between those who can imagine a world beyond the pandemic and those who can only foresee months and perhaps years of illness and death.
In one country, early stumbles in the fight against COVID-19 were overcome thanks to money and a strong public health infrastructure. In the other, poor planning, a lack of resources and the failure of a global mechanism intended to share scarce vaccines have led to a desperate shortage of COVID-19 shots – and oxygen tanks and protective equipment, as well.
With 70% of its adult population receiving at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, Canada has among the world’s highest vaccination rate and is now moving on to immunize children, who are at far lower risk of coronavirus complications and death.
Meanwhile, only about 9% of the population in Zimbabwe has received one dose of coronavirus vaccine amid a surge of the easier-to-spread delta variant, first seen in India. Many millions of people vulnerable to COVID-19, including the elderly and those with underlying medical problems, are struggling to get immunized as government officials introduce more restrictive measures.
Ngwenya said the crush of people trying to get vaccinated is disheartening.
“The queue is like 5 kilometers (about 3 miles) long. Even if you are interested in a jab you can’t stand that. Once you see the queue you won’t try again,” he said
Vaccines weren’t always plentiful in Canada. With no domestic coronavirus vaccine production, the country got off to a sluggish start, with immunization rates behind those in Hungary, Greece and Chile. Canada was also the only G7 country to secure vaccines in the first round of deliveries by a U.N.-backed effort set up to distribute COVID-19 doses primarily to poor countries known as COVAX.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it had always been Canada’s intention to secure vaccines through COVAX, after investing more than $400 million in the project. The vaccines alliance, Gavi, said COVAX was also meant to provide rich countries with an “insurance policy” in case they didn’t have enough shots.
COVAX’s latest shipment to Canada – about 655,000 AstraZeneca vaccines – arrived in May, shortly after about 60 poor countries were left in the lurch when the initiative’s supplies slowed to a trickle. Bangladesh, for example, had been awaiting a COVAX delivery of about 130,000 vaccines for its Rohingya refugee population; the shots never arrived after the Indian supplier ceased exports.
Canada’s decision to secure vaccines through the U.N.-backed effort was “morally reprehensible,” said Dr. Prabhat Jha, chair of global health and epidemiology at the University of Toronto. He said Canada’s early response to COVID-19 badly misjudged the need for control measures including aggressive contact tracing and border restrictions.
“If not for Canada’s purchasing power to procure vaccines, we would be in bad shape right now,” he said.
Weeks after the COVAX vaccines arrived, more than 33,000 doses were still sitting in warehouses in Ottawa after health officials recommended Canadians get shots made by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna instead – of which they had bought tens of millions of doses.
The Wood children got the Pfizer vaccine. When Canada began immunizing children aged 12 and over, Wood, who works with children in the entertainment industry and her architect husband didn’t hesitate.
Wood said her children, who are all avid athletes, have been unable to play much hockey, soccer or rugby during repeated lockdowns. Lola has missed baking lemon loaves and chocolate chip cookies with her grandmother, who lives three blocks away.
“We felt we had to do our part to keep everyone safe, to keep the elderly safe, and to get the economy going again and the kids back to school,” she said.
In Zimbabwe, there is no expectation of a return to normal anytime soon, and things are likely to get worse – Ngwenya worries about government threats to bar the unvaccinated from public services, including transport.
Although Zimbabwe was allocated nearly 1 million coronavirus vaccines through COVAX, none have been delivered. Its mix of purchased and donated shots – 4.2 million – consist of Chinese, Russian and Indian vaccines.
Official figures show that 4% of the country’s 15 million population are now fully immunized.
The figures make Zimbabwe a relative success in Africa, where fewer than 2% of the continent’s 1. 3 billion people have been vaccinated, according to the World Health Organization. Meanwhile, the virus is spreading to rural areas where the majority live and health facilities are shambolic.
Ngwenya is a part-time pastor with a Pentecostal church; he said he and his flock have had to rely on their faith to fight the coronavirus. But he said people would rather have vaccines first, and then prayer.
“Every man is scared of death,” he said. “People are dying and we can see people dying. This is real.”
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Vaccines best defence against Delta resurgence as Waterloo Region reopens: Dr. Wang – CTV Toronto
Waterloo Region’s medical officer of health says COVID-19 vaccines remain the best defence against resurgence of the Delta variant as the economy reopens.
The region joined Ontario with a move into Step 3 last Friday. Step 2 was delayed in the area due to wide community spread of the Delta variant earlier this summer.
“The risk of Delta will increase as we reopen our economy and society,” Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang said at the region’s COVID-19 update on Friday. “Therefore, we need to protect ourselves. Residents should not delay getting their first or second doses.”
She encouraged people to continue following all public health measures, avoid crowded indoor spaces, gather outdoors whenever possible and wear a mask if physical distancing isn’t possible.
“The Delta variant continues to be the predominant strain in Waterloo Region and is estimated to have accounted for 97 per cent of cases in the previous two weeks,” Dr. Wang said.
Trends in the community have improved in recent weeks. The weekly incidence rate is now down to 25 cases per 100,000 people, according to Dr. Wang.
Dr. Wang added the majority of new cases continue to be in people who aren’t vaccinated, or anyone who has only received one dose.
“Fully vaccinated people are the most protected possible against infection and, in particular, severe illness that can lead to hospitalization or even death,” she said.
She said there is a possibility of breakthrough cases in people who are fully vaccinated, but they are less likely to have severe symptoms or to spread the disease to others.
“The more there’s spread of the virus, the more everyone is at increased risk, because there’s more exposure to the virus,” Dr. Wang said. “But, those who are vaccinated, especially those that are fully vaccinated, are the most protected.”
The region continues to have some of the highest first-dose coverage in Ontario, but Dr. Wang reminded residents that it’s too soon to relax restrictions completely.
“We may feel done with the pandemic, but the pandemic is not done with us,” she said.
CONTINUED PUSH FOR ACCELERATED SECOND DOSES
Regional officials continue to encourage people get their second vaccine dose as soon as they are eligible to do so. The interval between mRNA vaccines is 28 days, and people can get a second shot eight weeks after receiving AstraZeneca.
All regional clinics are offering walk-ins for first and second doses, and all other appointments will be honoured.
“I encourage every resident who has an appointment in August, September or October to book an earlier appointment or pop into one of the clinics,” said Dept. Chief Shirley Hilton, who is leading the region’s vaccine rollout.
The region launched a new mobile vaccine bus this week, which is aimed at making doses more accessible to people who may not be able to get to a clinic, pharmacy or primary care facility.
Hilton said the vaccine task force is beginning to look at ramping down some of its mass vaccine clinics as more and more residents receive both first and second doses. She said they will continue to offer mobile and other vaccine options into the future.
Officials reported one enforcement action at this week’s COVID-19 update. Regional bylaw officers issued one ticket to a business for failing to comply with the face covering bylaw. That ticket was worth $240.
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