Health officials across BC are urging the public to work collectively to reduce the spread of COVID-19 as the calendar enter fall, especially with the number of new cases increasing.
In the daily briefing Thursday, Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, and Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, announced 89 new cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Five of those cases were reported in the Interior Health region, bringing the total number to 450.
There was one epi-linked case, for a total of 6,041 cases in British Columbia.
Dr. Bonnie Henry said “there are 1,1175 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, 2,801 people who are under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases, and 4,644 people who tested positive have recovered.
“Currently, 34 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19, 11 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people with COVID-19 are recovering at home in self-isolation.
“Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 2,012 cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 3,155 in the Fraser Health region, 178 in the Island Health region, 450 in the Interior Health region, 167 in the Northern Health region and 79 cases of people who reside outside of Canada.
“There has been one new COVID-19 related death, for a total of 210 deaths in British Columbia. We offer our condolences to everyone who has lost their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“After many months of restrictions, we all have been feeling the need to reconnect with our family and friends this summer and many people across IH have been gathering in safe and creative ways – outdoors, physically distanced and in small groups,” said IH Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Albert de Villiers on gatherings and events.
“Of course, there are other events, including ones that typically happen annually, which this year cannot go ahead because of COVID-19. We know that this is disappointing for both the organizers and participants. However, let’s be clear that at the heart of all decisions is the health and safety of our communities and of each other. We need to work collectively to reduce the spread of COVID-19 as we enter the fall.
Dr. de Villiers said a provincial order related to Gatherings and Events lays out the guidelines for events. Organizers who believe their event should not fall under the order are able to apply for an exemption. When a request for an exemption is not approved, it is the role of Interior Health Environmental Health officers to uphold requirements in the order.
“Our Environmental Health team is working diligently on behalf of Interior Health residents to keep the spread of the coronavirus in check and protect the health of our population,” Dr. Albert de Villiers said.
“As the result of their efforts, as well as the work of Public Health and our dedicated IH citizens, we are keeping the curve of the disease flat across this health authority. I would ask everyone to respect the work of our teams and accept that when an exemption for an event is not approved, it is in the best interest of everyone. As Dr. Bonnie Henry has said, this is not forever, this is for now.”
Dr. Henry added, “there have been two new long-term care facility outbreaks at Cherington Place in the Fraser Health region and at Point Grey Private Hospital in the Vancouver Coastal Health region. The outbreak at the Maple Ridge Seniors Village has been declared over. In total, nine long-term care or assisted-living facilities and two acute-care facilities have active outbreaks.
“There have been no new community outbreaks, although there continue to be community exposure events.
“Alerts are posted on the BC Centre for Disease Control’s (BCCDC) website, as well as on health authorities’ websites, providing details on where the potential exposure occurred and what actions to take – whether you need to self-isolate or monitor for symptoms.
“With COVID-19 in our province, we have continued to adapt our approach as we learn more about the virus and what we need to do to protect ourselves and those around us.
“Today, we shared the latest modelling data. The data shows us that although we have been able to find our balance – keeping essential services and businesses going, while protecting our most vulnerable, we continue to have new cases and new clusters across the province.
“We know COVID-19 is going to be in our communities for many months ahead, so our focus needs to be on keeping our communities vibrant and healthy, and keeping new cases low by breaking the chain of transmission.
“Our well-being includes getting back to work, getting back into classrooms, keeping our businesses going and staying healthy.
“We simply have to look at the successes we have seen in recent months to show us what we need to do. Thousands of our restaurants have reopened, millions of trees have been planted this summer and many people have safely restarted recreational sports once again.
“However, as we look to the fall, now is the time to pause the activities that we know are a high risk to all of us – spending time with groups of people we don’t know without taking personal precautions.
“Now is also the time to think about the number of contacts you have. There is no ‘safe’ number, but fewer people is better. If you know you have more interactions ahead – for example, if you are returning to work – then it is a good idea to reduce your time with other contacts.
“This upcoming long weekend, choose to go small, to spend time with your household bubble instead of a group of strangers, and choose to use the layers of protection, wherever you may go.
“We have the tools and we can make the right choices. To be successful in this next phase, we need to step back to safely move forward, so let’s all make that choices that will keep our communities, our Elders, our loved ones and ourselve
2 students test positive for COVID-19 in North York in 1st Toronto school outbreak – CBC.ca
Two students have tested positive for COVID-19 at a North York elementary school, marking the city’s first school-based outbreak.
Two class cohorts at Glen Park Public School— one with 17 children and the other with 18 — were sent home to self-isolate for 14 days, said Dr. Eileen de Villa, the city’s medical officer of health, at a news conference Friday afternoon.
“All steps have been followed as expected in a situation of this nature,” she said.
Parents in the school community were notified in writing, she said, adding that protocols at the school continue to be strictly followed, including masking requirements and enhanced cleaning measures.
“One of the realities of living in a world with COVID-19 is that there will be cases in schools,” de Villa said.
“Today’s news is expected. I expect there will be similar announcements in future and you can be confident the steps developed to manage the situation and reduce the risk of spread will be followed,” she added.
This occurrence qualifies as an outbreak, de Villa said, because it fits the definition of at least two cases within a 14-day period with one at least linked to the school.
And she said declaring it as an outbreak means a swift response.
“That’s really what the point of declaring the outbreak is,” she said. “[It’s] to make sure that you’re marshalling all the resources necessary, that the appropriate attention is paid to the circumstances so that we can manage the risk and reduce transmission.”
The Toronto District School Board posted on Twitter that it had updated its mask guidelines as a result of rising cases in the city, as well as due to confirmed cases in their community.
4 Toronto businesses caught breaking COVID-19 rules
Toronto’s top public health official also ordered four hospitality businesses to close on Friday after it was discovered they weren’t following the rules.
The businesses were flouting public health protocols and evading investigators, de Villa said. She added that some were pressuring staff to work even when sick.
The businesses, whose names she did not share because the operation to shut them down was not yet complete, will be allowed to reopen once the city is satisfied they’ll follow the rules.
“In these circumstances, the action taken is the right action to protect your health. The names of the affected businesses and their locations will be released to media once the process of serving the orders is completed,” she said.
While the reasons for the closures were “distinct” to each business, de Villa said Toronto Public Health found that “many people” were connected to more than one of the four businesses.
De Villa said some people who were infected with COVID-19 worked at more than one of the four locations.
In one instance, a business was also found to serve food buffet-style, which is prohibited by provincial regulations.
She added that the operators of the locations were so uncooperative that the city’s investigation efforts were “significantly impeded.”
Businesses who have complied with the city’s investigations, she said, are commended for stepping up.
Number of COVID-19 cases in schools on the rise in Quebec – Global News
Two Lower Canada College (LCC) teachers have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the school.
The college located in the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough sent a letter to parents with the news Thursday.
“In order to limit the possibility of further transmission in the school and after consulting with Public Health, teachers and staff who were in close contact with these teachers have been asked to be tested for COVID-19 and will remain at home for a period of 14 days following their exposure,” the letter read in part.
According to the school’s headmaster Christopher Shannon, no student was exposed. Shannon says teachers are in full personal protective equipment when they are with students and maintain a two-metre distance at all times.
Lower Canada College is just one of 489 schools that have reported cases of the virus in Quebec so far, according to numbers released by the province on Friday.
It brings the total of cases in schools to 1,163 of which 722 are currently active.
Olivier Drouin, a Montreal-based parent who decided to track COVID-19 cases in schools on a website he created, says he’s alarmed about the increase in cases lately.
Drouin believes it’s time for the government to take more measures in schools.
“I am worried and I would like at least — if the schools are going to stay open — that we introduce maybe mandatory masks in schools, or a little bit more of social distancing, or online learning,” Drouin said. “But [that] doesn’t seem the way the government is going right now.”
Coronavirus: Parents worried over differing protocols in Quebec schools
Health officials insist schools are not a problem.
“There are a lot of cases because there are a lot of schools and schools are a reflection of what’s going on in the community,” said Dr. Horacio Arruda, Quebec’s public health director.
“There’s going to be small outbreaks under control. If they are not in control then we can go to other steps.”
Arruda added that the virus is being brought into schools rather than it being a matter of schools driving the spread.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Toronto's top doctor orders closure of four businesses over concerns about transmission of COVID-19 – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Friday, September 25, 2020 4:43PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, September 25, 2020 6:17PM EDT
Toronto’s top public health official has ordered the closure of four hospitality businesses that she says failed to take the necessary precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa says that the reasons behind the closure orders are specific to each business but generally point to an abdication of responsibility to help control the spread of COVID-19.
As an example, she said that investigators with Toronto Public Health found that one of the businesses served food buffet-style in direct contravention of provincial regulations.
Others, she said, pressured employees to work when they were ill and were “frequently uncooperative” with Toronto Public Health investigators as they attempted to trace cases of COVID-19.
De Villa also said that investigators found a “concerning link” among the businesses with many people who contracted COVID-19 having visited more than one of them. There were also instances in which staff members who tested positive for COVID-19 worked at more than one of the locations.
“These factors combined to create a significant risk to efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19 so I am acting under my authority to close down these businesses,” de Villa said during a briefing at city hall on Friday afternoon. “These are not actions I take lightly but I act first in the interest s of public health and in these circumstances the action taken is the right action to protect your health.”
De Villa said that orders requiring the closure of all four businesses are currently being issued, at which point their names and locations will be released to the public.
She said that in order to reopen each business will have to satisfy the specific conditions spelled out in the closure orders.
Speaking with reporters alongside de Villa, Mayor John Tory said that her decision to use her powers under the Health Protection and Promotion Act to order the closure of the business is the sort of “tactical responses” that the city will have to take when it finds “specific hot spots contributing to the spread of COVID-19” going forward.
“The action that Dr. de Villa is taking today will close some businesses but they must close so the vast majority of businesses can stay open,” he said.
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