While much of the rest of Canada was consumed with stories about politicians ignoring pandemic protocols and jetting south to sunny climes, Atlantic Canadians this week were puzzling over a tepid scandal involving a New Brunswick cabinet minister who drove to Nova Scotia.
Not Florida, Hawaii, Mexico, Arizona, St. Bart’s or California — some of the sun-drenched vacation spots visited last month by other Canadian politicians. Nova Scotia.
And the governing Progressive Conservatives in New Brunswick made a point of saying Mike Holland, the province’s natural resources minister, had in fact travelled to “rural Nova Scotia” to visit his partner.
After much hand-wringing, it was decided Holland had followed all COVID-19 guidelines, including 14 days of self-isolation upon his return. He was spared any punishment, even though non-essential travel remains frowned upon.
Holland’s minor indiscretion spoke volumes about Atlantic Canada’s response to the pandemic.
In short, politicians on the East Coast have followed the rules, which experts say echoes the behaviour of their constituents. A Canadian Press survey of political parties in the region — both federal and provincial — failed to find any elected members who had travelled outside Canada in December.
It’s no coincidence that Atlantic Canada has recorded the country’s lowest infection rates since the pandemic began, says David Johnson, a political science professor at Cape Breton University in Sydney.
“There’s real pride that we have been able to achieve something that most of the world hasn’t,” he said in an interview, adding for good measure that the New Brunswick politician should have stayed home.
“Maybe he should have . . . talked to his significant other via Zoom or other social media.”
As well, Johnson said it’s worth noting that East Coast politicians wouldn’t even consider a foreign getaway because there’s a higher likelihood they would be outed by a neighbour.
“Here in Sydney, if some (member of the legislature) was going through the airport, they would be recognized and people would be looking at their ticket,” he said. “A lot of people know your business. And if you’re not around, people start talking.”
Howard Ramos, a sociology professor at Western University in London, Ont., said the smaller communities in Atlantic Canada mean fewer degrees of separation between elected officials and the people they serve.
“In Atlantic Canada, it’s hard to hide for very long,” he said from his home in Shad Bay, N.S. “If you think of the largest cities in the region, they’re big enough to have a symphony but too small to have an affair.”
As a result, there’s more pressure to conform to social norms.
“Social shame and social pressure is higher in Atlantic Canada,” said Ramos, who studies the Atlantic region. “The social costs for not following the rules are higher.”
And that partially explains why Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil took a hard line last spring when he imposed strict lockdown rules.
“We don’t need online graphs to tell us what we need to do,” he intoned during a news conference in April, glaring at the camera. “We need to stay the blazes home.”
Everyone got the message, which immediately went viral.
“There’s been very clear messaging compared to other provinces,” said Ramos, adding that the province’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Robert Strang, has become a bit of a folk hero.
“Dr. Strang’s name comes up probably more than the premier,” he said.
Meanwhile, Nova Scotia’s Progressive Conservative leader, Tim Houston, issued a statement earlier this week that left no doubt about where he stood on an issue that has caused so much political pain across the country.
“For the better part of a year, Canadians have been asked — week in and week out — to make sacrifices to stop COVID-19. They had to cancel weddings, they were kept from visiting parents in long-term care homes, they often couldn’t visit sick loved ones and they were isolated when it was time to grieve,” he said.
“So when the same people who tell you to make sacrifices are unwilling to make them themselves, Canadians have a right to be ticked off. I know I am.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 9, 2021.
Federal Approval of AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine Changes Vaccine Roll-Out Plan – VOCM
Federal approval of the AstraZeneca vaccine forced some last-minute changes to the province’s vaccine roll-out plan.
Health Minister John Haggie says the new vaccine could be available in Canada as soon as late March.
Dr. Janice Fitzgerald says the AstraZeneca vaccine will provide more flexibility as it is stable at between 2 and 8 degrees and can be transported easily and stored in a fridge.
While the AstraZeneca vaccine’s efficacy is not as great as the two vaccines currently being used by Public Health, it still offers “pretty significant” protection says Dr. Fitzgerald.
Public Health is still looking at ways to incorporate AstraZeneca into the vaccination program.
COVID-19 in Ottawa: Fast Facts for Feb. 28, 2021 – CTV News Ottawa
Good morning. Here is the latest news on COVID-19 and its impact on Ottawa.
- Front-line workers wait in long, snowy line for COVID-19 vaccine following a “minor booking issue” in Ottawa on Saturday
- Ottawa’s top doctor addresses concerns about the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, saying “62 per cent effectiveness is still better than zero”
- Ottawa Public Health reports 62 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday
- St-Albert Cheese Cooperative re-opens factory store after COVID-19 outbreak
COVID-19 by the numbers in Ottawa (Ottawa Public Health data):
- New COVID-19 cases: 62 new cases on Saturday
- Total COVID-19 cases: 14,650
- COVID-19 cases per 100,000 (previous seven days): 35
- Positivity rate in Ottawa: 2.0 per cent (Feb. 19 to Feb. 25)
- Reproduction Number: 0.98 (seven day average)
Who should get a test?
Ottawa Public Health says there are five reasons to seek testing for COVID-19:
- You are showing COVID-19 symptoms. OR
- 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. OR
- You are a resident or work in a setting that has a COVID-19 outbreak, as identified and informed by Ottawa Public Health. OR
- You are eligible for testing as part of a targeted testing initiative directed by the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Long-Term Care. OR
- You have traveled to the U.K., or have come into contact with someone who recently traveled to the U.K., please go get tested immediately (even if you have no symptoms).
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 Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Friday to Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
- COVID-19 Drive-thru assessment centre at National Arts Centre: Open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- The Moodie Care and Testing Centre: Open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
- 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.
COVID-19 screening tool:
The COVID-19 screening tool for students heading back to in-person classes can be found here.
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
The Ottawa Hospital blames a “minor booking issue” for the long line outside the COVID-19 vaccination centre at the Civic campus.
Dozens of people lined up in a snowstorm on Saturday to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The Ottawa Hospital says people in line were hospital and community-based health care workers, staff and essential caregivers from long-term care homes, and staff from high-risk retirement homes.
In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, the Ottawa Hospital said the lineup was the result of a booking error.
“The Ottawa Hospital’s vaccine clinic experienced a minor booking issue (Saturday) morning which caused the line up to be longer than usual,” the Ottawa Hospital said. “Appointments are continuing as scheduled.”
Ottawa’s top doctor is addressing some concerns about COVID-19 vaccine efficacy, just days after Health Canada approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
“62 per cent effectiveness is still better than zero per cent,” said Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa’s medical officer of health during an interview on CTV News at Six on Saturday.
The AstraZeneca vaccine has already faced questions about its efficacy. Health Canada said receiving two doses of the vaccine is between 59 and 62 per cent effective. Pfizer-BioNTech has said its vaccine is 94.5 per cent effective after two doses.
Dr. Etches says the effectiveness compares to the seasonal flu shot.
“We know that compares to other vaccines we have, like the annual influenza vaccine is sometimes only around that level of effectiveness. So you know, the more protection that we can add in to the population and build immunity at this point, the better.”
Sixty-two more people tested positive for COVID-19 in Ottawa on Saturday.
Ottawa Public Health reported no new deaths linked to the virus.
Since the first case of COVID-19 in Ottawa on March 11, 2020, there have been 14,650 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 439 deaths.
The St-Albert Cheese Co-op plans to resume production in a limited capacity on Monday after a COVID-19 outbreak.
The factory east of Ottawa temporarily closed after three employees tested positive for COVID-19 this week.
The Eastern Ontario Health Unit tested all employees, and St-Albert Cheese Co-op director general Eric Lafontaine says the early signs are positive.
“Right now we’re still waiting the final result of the health unit, but so far what we got in is mostly 90 per cent, and 90 per cent is negative so that’s a really good sign, so we know it didn’t spread across. That’s the most important thing.”
The factory store at the St-Albert Cheese Co-op reopened on Saturday.
What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Sunday, Feb. 28 – CBC.ca
- Ottawa Public Health recorded 62 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday.
- The Renfrew health unit is considering targeted restrictions after cases rise in two communities.
- Parents with Ottawa’s largest school board will soon have to choose between virtual and in-person learning for the fall.
What’s the latest?
The acting head of the Renfrew County and District Health Unit says they’re considering targeted restrictions as COVID-19 cases have shot up in a pair of communities just west of Ottawa.
Dr. Robert Cushman says it’s possible tighter rules could be implemented in the town of Arnprior, Ont., and the township of McNab/Braeside, Ont., after 15 cases were confirmed this past week.
In Ottawa, meanwhile, another 62 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed on Saturday. No deaths were reported.
The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board says parents will have to make a decision by mid-March about whether their children will attend virtual or in-person learning come September.
If the pandemic’s left you feeling disconnected from loved ones, check your mailbox this week. Canada Post will be sending out 13.5 million postage-paid postcards to help Canadians stay in touch with the people who matter to them.
How many cases are there?
As of Saturday, 14,650 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19. There are currently 488 known active cases and 13,723 resolved cases. Public health officials have attributed 439 deaths to COVID-19.
Details on <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/OttCity?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#OttCity</a>’s first pop-up vaccination clinic will be announced on Monday , March 1. Please do not call <a href=”https://twitter.com/OttawaHealth?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@ottawahealth</a> or 3-1-1 at this time, as appointments are not yet available. To find out eligibility for this clinic, visit: <a href=”https://t.co/BPpKuJ3hou”>https://t.co/BPpKuJ3hou</a> <a href=”https://t.co/zmEProsLvL”>pic.twitter.com/zmEProsLvL</a>
Public health officials have reported more than 26,000 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 24,400 resolved cases.
Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, 130 people have died of COVID-19, and 160 people have died in western Quebec.
Akwesasne has had more than 230 residents test positive on the Canadian side of the border and seven deaths. Kitigan Zibi has had 21 confirmed cases and Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory has had five, with one death.
What can I do?
Restaurants, gyms, personal care services, theatres and non-essential businesses are open across eastern Ontario. Most sports can also resume.
Social gatherings can have up to 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors. Organized events can be larger.
People are asked to only have close contact with people they live with, be masked and distanced for all other in-person contact and only travel for essential reasons, especially between differently coloured zones.
Both Ottawa Public Health (OPH) and the EOHU are orange under the province’s colour-coded pandemic scale.
That area’s new curfew hours are 9:30 p.m. until 5 a.m.
Like in Ontario, people are asked not to see anyone they don’t live with in person and travel from one region of Quebec to another is discouraged.
Outdoor gatherings of up to eight people are now allowed.
Distancing and isolating
This means it is important to take precautions now and in the months to come like staying home while symptomatic — and getting help with costs if needed — keeping hands and frequently touched surfaces clean and maintaining distance from anyone you don’t live with, even with a mask on.
OPH says residents should also wear masks outside their homes whenever possible.
Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems stay home as much as possible and get help with errands.
Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate, as should those who’ve been ordered to do so by their public health unit. The length varies in Quebec and Ontario; the latter recently updated its rules, including in schools.
Symptoms and vaccines
COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, vomiting and loss of taste or smell. Children can develop a rash.
If you have severe symptoms, call 911.
Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine supply has stabilized.
About 79,800 doses have been given out since mid-December, including about 48,300 doses in Ottawa and 13,300 in western Quebec.
Ontario’s first doses have generally been going to care home residents and health-care workers.
Ontarians who are eligible can book appointments online or over the phone starting March 15. Vaccines are expected to be widely available in August.
Local health units have some flexibility in the larger framework, however, so check with them for specifics.
More details on those logistics are expected Monday.
Many eastern Ontario vaccine clinic locations are in the same communities as test sites and none are open yet for the general public.
Quebec is giving a single dose to as many people as possible, starting with people in care homes and health-care workers.
People who qualify can make an appointment online or over the phone.
Quebecers should get their second dose within 90 days.
Where to get tested
In eastern Ontario:
Anyone seeking a test should book an appointment.
People without symptoms but who are part of the province’s targeted testing strategy can make an appointment at select pharmacies. Travellers who need a test have very few local options to pay for one.
People can arrange a test in Picton over the phone or in Bancroft, Belleville and Trenton, where online booking is preferred.
Renfrew County test clinic locations are posted weekly. Residents can also call their family doctor or 1-844-727-6404 with health questions.
The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has sites in Alexandria, Casselman, Cornwall, Hawkesbury, Rockland and Winchester.
In western Quebec:
Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms and their contacts.
There are recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Maniwaki and Petite-Nation.
Call 1-877-644-4545 with questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby.
First Nations, Inuit and Métis:
Anyone returning to the community on the Canadian side of the international border who’s been farther than 160 kilometres away — or visited Montreal — for non-essential reasons is asked to self-isolate for 14 days.
Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing and now vaccines, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.
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