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'The pandemic is not over': Experts expect a surge in COVID cases this fall –



Higher COVID-19 levels seen in Ottawa in the past month are expected to continue to rise through the fall, public health experts warn. 

Coronavirus levels in Ottawa’s wastewater have been increasing since the end of July, and the city saw an average of 28 patients in hospital because of active COVID-19 cases during the week of Aug. 21.

This number has come down since the previous week, but is much higher than the single digit averages reported in July. 


The highly mutated new variant BA.2.86 was also detected in Canada for the first time on Tuesday.

Ottawa’s medical officer of health Vera Etches confirmed Thursday these trends will increase in the coming months, but said it’s not yet clear that subvariants are driving the surge. 

“It’s more that we’re in close contact with each other,” she said.

“Regardless of the variant, there are things we can do to decrease spread of respiratory illness,” she said, emphasizing masking, staying up to date with vaccinations, and staying home when sick as effective practices to reduce spread going into the fall. 

Etches also noted COVID-19 will be one of several respiratory illnesses that will be circulating, along with influenza and RSV.

Rising virus levels in wastewater

The latest data from Ottawa’s wastewater monitoring program shows a steady increase in COVID-19 virus levels since the end of July, and forecasts this upward trend will continue into the fall.

“Based on that I think it’s a foregone conclusion we’re in a late summer, early fall wave, and that this wave will continue for at least the next couple of months,” said Tyson Graber, co-lead investigator of the wastewater monitoring project.

“Unsurprisingly at this point, that [increase] is followed by an increase in hospitalizations, which we’ve seen now in Ottawa over the last couple of weeks.”

Graber said the wastewater samples contain several different variants but that Omicron subvariant EG.5 has been out-competing the others since the beginning of August.

This subvariant has been circulating in Canada since at least May, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, and experts say it is responsible for the surge in cases that has been reported in the last month. 

Graber said the wastewater data indicates the uptick in COVID-19 levels he’s seeing right now will likely continue well into the fall.

“Based on the wastewater data alone, looking at Ottawa, we probably won’t be done with this wave until at least October or November, based on the current trajectory,” he said.

Researchers measure and share the amount of novel coronavirus in Ottawa’s wastewater. The most recent data is from Aug. 27, 2023. ( ( (

Graber determines how long a wave will last based on a trajectory extended from the current trend.

“In the past, this hill has been steeper,” he explained. “Right now, the trajectory is a bit of a less steep hill, meaning that the entire wave will be a little bit longer than in previous waves.”

Graber said a handful of variables that could change this forecasted trajectory, including the coming return to school, an increase in indoor activities, waning immunity, and new variants coming through the door.

Subvariant BA.2.86 has not yet been detected in Ottawa’s wastewater, but Graber expects it will show up within the next month.

“The pandemic is not over, but there are measures available to reduce both personal risk and community risk,” he said.

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The Key Role of Trustworthy Babysitters in Balancing Work and Family Life




Are you a busy parent in constant pursuit of the elusive work-life balance? We know firsthand how overwhelming and challenging it can be to juggle professional commitments while still having quality time with your children.

That’s why we’re here to discuss an essential ingredient that unlocks the secret to harmony: trustworthy babysitters.

What Characteristics Parents Should Look for When Choosing a Babysitter?

Parents should look for a few key characteristics when choosing a babysitter. A good babysitter should be patient, responsible, and reliable. They should also be comfortable with children and have prior experience caring for them.

Besides, the babysitter must be able to communicate effectively and follow directions well. The babysitter should be someone the parents can trust to care for their children in their absence.


Strategies for Parents to Establish Reasonable Anticipations

As a parent, finding babysitters you can trust to care for your children is vital. However, it is also important to establish reasonable expectations for your babysitters.

Some tips for establishing reasonable expectations for babysitters include:

  1. Set clear expectations: Sit down with your babysitter to discuss bedtime routines, dietary preferences, and any necessary medications.
  2. Allow flexibility: While clarity is vital, also provide room for your babysitter to use their judgment and feel comfortable in their role.
  3. Trust their expertise: Once expectations are set, trust your babysitter’s judgment as a professional caregiver to avoid undermining their authority and creating discomfort in their role.

Determining a Fair Payment Plan

Determine your babysitting budget, factoring in your income and family size, while researching local rates. Account for the babysitter’s experience and qualifications, giving preference to those recommended by trusted sources.

Engage in open negotiations with your chosen babysitter. This aims to find a mutually agreeable arrangement that accommodates both your budget and their needs.

Tips on Finding Trustworthy and Compassionate Caregivers

When seeking a caregiver for your child, to ensure you find the right fit:

  • Seek recommendations from trusted sources such as friends, family, and neighbours who may have suggestions for caregivers in your area.
  • Conduct online research to review feedback and check references to gauge candidates’ qualifications and experience.
  • Request references and contact details from the caregivers’ previous employers or families they have worked with.
  • Trust your instincts and ensure you feel at ease with the caregiver, ensuring they are someone you can entrust with your child’s well-being.


Being able to trust your babysitter means you can have peace of mind knowing your child is safe and cared for.

Spending some time researching online reviews or asking friends and family for recommendations will help you find the perfect fit so you can feel more at ease while juggling work commitments in today’s hectic world.

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Facility-wide COVID-19 outbreak at Bethammi Nursing Home



THUNDER BAY — St. Joseph’s Care Group and the Thunder Bay District Health Unit have declared a facility-wide COVID-19 outbreak at Bethammi Nursing Home, part of the St. Joseph’s Heritage complex on Carrie Street near Red River Road.

The respiratory outbreak at the 112-bed facility was declared effective Sept. 15 but only announced publicly on Monday.

No details were provided with regard to the number of people affected to date.

Restrictions are now in place for admissions, transfers, discharges, social activities and visitation until further notice.




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Alberta COVID hospitalizations up 73% since July: health minister



Three weeks after the start of the school year, Alberta’s health minister provided an update on the spread of airborne viruses in the province.

Adriana LaGrange also said more information about flu and next-generation COVID-19 vaccines will soon be released.

“Now that we will be spending more time indoors, we need to make doubly sure we are following proper hygiene protocols like handwashing and staying home when sick,” LaGrange said. “It also means respecting those who choose to wear a mask.”


Global News previously reported that influenza vaccines will be available on Oct. 16 with the new Moderna vaccine formulated to target the XBB.1.5 variant likely to be available at around the same time. On Sept. 12, Health Canada approved the use of the Moderna vaccine.

“More information on immunizations against respiratory viruses including influenza and COVID-19 will be available shortly,” the health minister said.

LaGrange said there have been 28 cases of influenza and five lab-confirmed cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) since Aug. 28.

“This is consistent activity for this time of the year,” the health minister said in a statement.

The end of August or the beginning of September has typically marked the beginning of flu season for provincial health authorities.

LaGrange also provided an update on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the province.

From Aug. 28 to Sept. 8, there were a total 92 new hospitalizations and three ICU admissions, bringing the total to 417 in hospital and seven in ICU, a 73 per cent increase of COVID hospitalizations from the last reported info.

On July 24 – the last update to the province’s COVID data dashboard – there were only 242 in hospital.

“Sadly, five Albertans died during that period due to COVID-19,” LaGrange said.

LaGrange said the reporting dashboard is being refreshed to include RSV, influenza and COVID-19 data, work that was originally expected to be completed on Aug. 30. The latest data on the province’s influenza statistics dashboard is dated July 22.

“This work is currently underway and will be available in the coming weeks,” LaGrange said.

She said data for the dates between July 24 and Aug. 27 will be available when the new dashboard goes online.

Amid more hospitals continent-wide reinstating masking requirements in the face of increased hospitalizations, the health minister made no mention of any such moves for Alberta hospitals. Acute care COVID-19 outbreaks in Alberta jumped from Sept. 5 to 12, with 146 per cent more healthcare workers and 55 per cent more patients testing positive for COVID.

LaGrange stressed the “collective responsibility” to prevent the spread of airborne viruses like COVID and influenza.

“As a mother and grandmother, I understand the anxiety that comes with sending your children back to school. I want to reassure you that Alberta’s government has the health and well-being of all young Albertans top of mind,” the health minister said.

–with files from Meghan Cobb, Global News



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