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Dr. James Dickinson, a University of Calgary professor who runs the Alberta community influenza surveillance program, said it is impossible to predict what the upcoming flu season will look like, and what the interplay between influenza and the novel coronavirus might be.
But he said Albertans, particularly those in vulnerable groups, should prepare for a worst-case scenario by getting their vaccines.
“With COVID, all of the precautions we’re taking will likely work with influenza, so it’s quite likely that we’ll have less respiratory infections than usual,” Dickinson said. “But you just never know, and influenza in particular changes so dramatically from year to year that we might get something really bad, or we might have a very light season.”
When Alberta’s flu season will begin is also up in the air, Dickinson said, with the possibility that cases won’t ramp up until January or February.
At a press conference Friday, Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw urged Albertans to get their flu shot, saying it was “the right thing to do.”
“The flu shot won’t protect COVID-19, but it will reduce your chances of getting sick with influenza and spreading it to others,” she said. “The more that we can avoid influenza-related tests, emergency visits and hospitalizations, the stronger our health system with be to support those with COVID-19.”
Last flu season, 33 per cent of Albertans received flu shots. It’s the highest inoculation rate since the province began offering free flu shots in 2009.
Thanksgiving festivities may have affected COVID-19 numbers in hot spots: Ont. govt – BayToday
Health officials in Ontario and Manitoba are pointing to recent Thanksgiving celebrations as they continue to see high numbers of new COVID-19 infections despite strengthening restrictions in hot spot areas.
In Ontario, where new cases reached a peak over the weekend, Health Minister Christine Elliott said the holiday took place around the same time as the province imposed stricter health measures in three regions, including Toronto. The tighter rules were applied to a fourth region more than a week later.
While the number of new daily infections is starting to decrease in some areas, such as Ottawa, in the other regions, “we’re not seeing that happen quite as quickly as we’d like to,” Elliott said.
“We’re also seeing some of the impacts from Thanksgiving several weeks ago, so we’ve got that adding to the increase in community transmission, but we are also starting to see some of the numbers in some of the modified areas,” she said.
Elliott’s comments came a day after Ontario — one of the two provinces hit hardest by the pandemic — recorded 1,000 new cases, its highest single-day increase since the start of the global health crisis. The number of new infections dropped to 851 new cases on Monday, a level comparable to last week.
Of those, 281 cases were in Toronto, 215 in Peel Region, 90 in York Region and 76 in Ottawa.
Toronto’s medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, said the current case counts reflect infections that were acquired about two weeks ago so it’s likely Thanksgiving played a role, but it’s not possible to say how significant an impact it had.
“Certainly the timing lines up appropriately,” she said.
Meanwhile, Manitoba’s top doctor urged residents Monday to stop gathering in large groups, saying many of the 100 new cases reported by the province that day were linked to Thanksgiving festivities.
The vast majority of the new infections were in Winnipeg, which was placed under enhanced restrictions following a recent spike in cases.
So far, there have been 4,349 cases in Manitoba, 2,117 of which are active, and 55 deaths.
“The trajectory is in the wrong direction and if we continue at this pace, we are likely going to see over 5,000 cases by the end of this week,” said Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer.
Isaac Bogoch, infectious disease specialist at the University of Toronto, said it’s challenging to know exactly what was driving the case numbers over the last few days.
The timing suggests Thanksgiving played a role “but it’s probably not the sole factor,” he said. “It certainly would be somewhat reasonable to think that part of that rise in cases was related to Thanksgiving, or people getting together for whatever reason.”
At the same time, it would take at least two weeks to see any change as a result of new restrictions, and case counts would be expected to continue rising in that time, he said.
The next few weeks will be “very telling” when it comes to how the second wave is playing out, he added.
Either way, health officials should begin to prepare the public for Christmas — a holiday that involves even more gatherings and travel than Thanksgiving, he said.
“No one wants to say publicly that it’s unlikely that the numbers will be down in many of the hot spots in Canada in a sufficient enough way to say it’s OK to get together for Christmas.”
Alberta also imposed a 15-person limit on social gatherings in its two biggest cities on Monday, as cases in Calgary and Edmonton continue to climb.
The province reported 364 cases on Friday, 572 on Saturday and 506 on Sunday, along with seven additional deaths over the weekend.
Unlike Ontario, Manitoba and Quebec, the Alberta government is not toughening rules for restaurants and bars because few infections seem to be connected to those venues.
In Quebec, Premier Francois Legault told a news conference in Montreal that the province’s rates of new, daily infections and deaths linked to the virus were too high to ease restrictions that have been in place since Oct. 1.
The partial lockdown on regions in maximum pandemic-alert zones was imposed until Oct. 28. But Legault said the forced closure of gyms, bars, restaurant dining areas and entertainment venues in the province’s biggest cities — such as Montreal and Quebec City — will be extended until Nov. 23.
“We have stabilized the number of new cases but we still have a big challenge in front of us,” he said.
The province, which has been leading the country in cumulative cases, surpassed 100,000 confirmed infections over the weekend. Quebec reported 808 new cases on Monday and 10 more deaths.
“We can’t continue to have 800-1,000 cases per day,” Legault said.
Earlier in the day, a coalition of gyms and other fitness-related businesses vowed to reopen Thursday regardless of the health orders.
Legault rejected their threat outright. He said those businesses won’t reopen and owners of gyms and other companies who violate lockdown orders risk being fined.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Monday, Oct. 26, 2020.
Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada – moosejawtoday.com
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
Health unit reporting Monday's second new case of COVID-19 – Sudbury.com
Public Health Sudbury & Districts is reporting a new case of COVID-19, the second new case of the day for Oct. 26.
This is the 125th case overall that has been reported in Greater Sudbury and Manitoulin since March.
The latest case has been determined to have been in close contact with another known case of COVID-19. The person was tested on Oct. 24 and is currently self-isolating.
According to the Public Health Sudbury & Districts website, there are currently 13 known active cases in our area.
Public Health Sudbury & Districts is reminding everyone that the safest options are to avoid non-essential travel, limit indoor gatherings to your own household, and otherwise be outdoors or go virtual, practise physical distancing, masking, and handwashing, and of course, stay away if you have any symptoms.
As much as possible, Ontarians are encouraged to limit outings to essentials like going to work or school, picking up groceries, attending a medical appointment, or engaging in outdoor physical activity. For all outings, continue to practise COVID-safe behaviours like distancing and wearing a face covering.
As of October 3, 2020, the Province of Ontario is pausing social circles and advising that all Ontarians allow close contact only with people living in their own household and maintain two metres physical distancing from everyone else. Individuals who live alone may consider having close contact with another household.
In any instance where a positive case is identified in a school setting, Public Health Sudbury & Districts will work directly with the individual who tested positive, the school board, and school, and conduct timely case and contact follow up and provide direction. To protect the privacy of individuals, Public Health will not routinely identify the school if a case is confirmed in a school setting. Schools boards and schools will communicate directly with the school community in the event of a positive case in a school setting.
In the instance of a confirmed COVID-19 outbreak in a school, Public Health Sudbury & Districts will publicly report the outbreak, identify the affected school, and describe any closures that have resulted from the outbreak. An outbreak in a school will be declared if there are two or more cases of COVID-19 in a 14-day period that have some link with each other, and with evidence that infection occurred at the school.
If individuals are identified as close contacts of a case in a school setting, Public Health Sudbury & Districts will contact them or their parent or guardian directly to provide direction. If you have any questions related to individual schools, please contact the school directly.
For general information on schools and COVID-19, visit phsd.ca/health-topics-programs/diseases-infections/coronavirus/schools/ or call Public Health Sudbury & Districts at 705.522.9200 (toll-free 1.866.522.9200).
Prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- Wash your hands often and when visibly dirty for 15 seconds.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with your arm or a tissue, throw the tissue in the garbage and wash your hands.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Continue to practise physical distancing, because any close contact could be a possible exposure to COVID-19.
- Masks or face coverings must be worn in all indoor public places in Sudbury and districts, and they should also be worn in other settings where physical distancing cannot be maintained.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick.
- Self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19.
- Stay home if you are unwell and get tested.
If you have a COVID-19 symptom or have been exposed to the virus as informed by Public Health or the COVID Alert app, get tested. As of September 24, 2020, the Province of Ontario has updated the eligibility and testing criteria for COVID-19 assessment centres. Stay informed and seek testing if necessary.
All residents who are planning to travel should be aware that COVID-19 is still circulating at different levels around the province. The safest options are to stay in the area of your home community or to stay in the region.
For anyone who has recently travelled, visit the Public Health Agency of Canada website for updates on COVID-19 exposures.
Anyone who has travelled outside of Canada is directed to self-isolate for 14 days from their arrival in Canada.
Updates about COVID-19 testing, confirmed cases, and outbreaks in Greater Sudbury, the District of Sudbury, and the District of Manitoulin are posted online.
Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about the province’s response to COVID-19.
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