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'This is a wake up call:'72 new cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba, marking highest single day jump – CTV News Winnipeg



The Manitoba government identified 72 new cases of COVID-19 Sunday, breaking a new record for the largest single day spike.

The previous record was 42 cases, set on Saturday.

Chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin and Health Minister Cameron Friesen made the announcement in a rare Sunday news conference.

“This is a wake-up call to Manitobans to again focus on the fundamentals,” said Roussin.

Of the 72 new cases, 45 are in the Prairie Mountain Health Region, where new restrictions are set to come into effect Monday. Masks will be mandatory in public places and group sizes will be limited to 10 people both indoors and outdoors.

Roussin said the majority of the cases identified Sunday are “linked to known clusters in communal living communities where we did proactive testing.”

Roussin and Friesen said these communities are working with public health officials to control the spread.

“Public health is engaged on a regular basis, for instance with Hutterian leadership,” said Friesen. “I think that it’s important to look past the large number (Sunday) to understand that a significant part of (Sunday’s) reported numbers is because of there is testing going on colonies and that is a good thing.”

Roussin urged Manitobans not to discriminate against people.

“It impairs our ability to address this virus, so please be kind, listen to credible information and do whatever we can to avoid stigmatizing people,” he said.

Sixteen cases were also announced in the Southern Health Region, nine cases in Winnipeg, one case in Interlake-Eastern and one in the Northern Health Region.

The case in the Northern Health Region is connected to one in the Prairie Mountain Health Region.

There are 356 active cases in the province, while 576 people have recovered.

Seven people are in hospital, with one person in intensive care.

Twelve people have died from the coronavirus.

Sunday’s update brings the total number of COVID-19 cases in Manitoba to 944.

The five-day positivity rate is 2.7 per cent.


Seven of the cases announced Sunday are linked to Bethesda Place, a care home in Steinbach, Man.

The province declared an outbreak there Monday, after one case was identified. The number of infections has spread.

“Three residents have been diagnosed, and four staff members,” said Roussin. “Residents were moved to hospital largely for infection prevention and control measures.”

COVID outbreak at care home

Bethesda Care Home in Steinbach, Man. where the province has declared a COVID-19 outbreak.

Despite the surge in cases throughout the province, Friesen said there are no plans to reverse reopening.

“It’s a balancing act,” he said. “We’re not going to be defensive by changing our direction broadly, with every hiccup that comes along. We do need to learn to live with the virus.”

Friesen said the province’s new colour coded system will make it easier to contain COVID-19.

Roussin reminded Manitobans to return to the “fundamentals,” which include washing your hands, keeping your distance and staying home when you’re sick.

“Manitobans have, and need to continue to respect this virus.”

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Oxford-Astra COVID vaccine review to start in Europe – BNN



European regulators are set to start an accelerated review of a COVID-19 vaccine front-runner from the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca Plc, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, in a sign the shot could be the first to seek approval in the region.

The European Medicines Agency is expected to announce the “rolling review” as soon as this week, according to the person, who didn’t want to be identified because the decision is still private. Such assessments are used in emergencies to allow regulators to see trial data while the development is ongoing to speed up approvals of drugs and vaccines that are urgently needed.

The move would be a key step forward for the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot after trials were halted earlier this month due to concerns about a participant in the U.K. study who became ill. The partners, along with companies such as Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc., are sprinting ahead with experimental shots as governments look for a way out of the global crisis.

The death toll from the disease exceeded 1 million this week, while the infection rate has rapidly picked up again in Europe.

While the British regulator cleared the Oxford-Astra trial to restart less than a week after it was paused, U.S. authorities have yet to give the go-ahead for trials to resume in the country. Studies in South Africa, Brazil and India have also restarted.

The EMA’s head of vaccines, Marco Cavaleri, said in July the agency would start rolling reviews of potential candidates after the summer. The approach means that a final approval could be granted a matter of days after the review period ends. Cavaleri said at the time the first approval of a vaccine could come by the end of the year.

In a normal environment, drugmakers submit trial data to the regulator for a review that can take many months. Once that’s complete, an opinion is given on whether the product should be authorized for use, which must be signed off by the European Commission.

In emergencies like a pandemic, a rolling review avoids delays so that an EMA recommendation and approval from the European Commission can be sought as quickly as possible. The agency started such an evaluation of remdesivir to treat COVID-19 in April, while trials were ongoing, and the drug was given conditional approval three months later.

AstraZeneca declined to comment. A spokesperson for the EMA declined to comment on the review.

“EMA has always stated that it will communicate the start of a rolling review for COVID-19 treatments or vaccines,” it said in a statement. “We have not made such an announcement for a vaccine.”

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Surge in health-care worker COVID-19 cases causing burnout, nurses union says –



Nearly two-thirds of Manitoba health-care workers who contracted COVID-19 did so in the past two months, data from the province suggests, and unions representing front-line staff say that’s contributing to burnout.

In a seven-week period in August and September, 61 health-care workers tested positive, making up the bulk of the roughly 100 such cases over the past six months, according to COVID-19 surveillance data from the province.

The recent uptick is adding strain to several health-care sectors, where employees are being required to work more overtime due to staffing shortages, said the Manitoba Nurses’ Union and the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

“Nurses are incredibly stressed,” said nurses union president Darlene Jackson. “It’s increasing, and then when you add an outbreak at a facility or on a unit, and you have staff off self-isolating, it’s the perfect storm. It just makes things even worse.” 

Jackson said 27 nurses have tested positive since March. That represents a quarter of all health-care worker cases.

Between mid-March and early May, the province reported 36 cases of health-care workers testing positive. That trend flatlined for months amid mass closures and pandemic restrictions, before picking up again on the heels of loosened rules this summer.

Spikes in Prairie Mountain Health led to the reintroduction of restrictions at the end of last month. Similar rules were imposed in Winnipeg and surrounding communities this week amid what Manitoba’s chief provincial health officer recently called evidence of a second wave.

Sample results fast tracked

As of Tuesday, Winnipeg was home to more than 80 per cent of Manitoba’s 606 active cases. That has led to a rise in demand at COVID-19 test sites, resulting in hours-long wait times, particularly at drive-thru sites in Winnipeg.

The province opened a new mobile screening station Wednesday, but Jackson still worries about long wait times for nurses who can’t work until results are in.

“We’ve had staff shortages for a very long time,” she said. “Now, if you have an outbreak in your facility, we have nurses and health-care aides off self-isolating, waiting for test results. That has absolutely increased the shortage in nursing.” 

A provincial spokesperson said when it comes to getting tested, health-care workers have to stand in line like the rest of the public. But at the lab, their samples are flagged to reduce turnaround times.

A union that represents health-care aides, transporters, ward clerks, security guards and more said it’s seeing signs of a stressed-out workforce in its members.

Staff at personal care homes and home-care workers appear to be among those most affected by burnout, said the president of CUPE Local 204.

“Anxiety levels have come up big time with COVID just because they don’t know who they’re coming in contact with,” said Debbie Boissonneault.

At least 18 front-line workers represented by CUPE have tested positive in the past six months, she said.

‘It’s been a problem’

Workloads have also increased and staff are spread thin filling in holes when peers are off sick, she said.

“Someone calls in sick, the employer doesn’t replace that person, so now you have three people doing the work of four, and sometimes two [doing] the work of four,” said Boissonneault.

“It’s been a problem long before COVID, and with COVID it’s even become more.”

Darlene Jackson is president of the Manitoba Nurses’ Union. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

An outbreak at Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre early in the pandemic resulted in 16 staff members testing positive, along with five patients and four close contacts. Two people died as a result of that outbreak.

After emerging from the first wave with no serious care home outbreaks, Manitoba has faced several in recent weeks, including one at Bethesda Place personal care home in Steinbach that has resulted in four deaths.

Jackson said cuts and closures stemming from the Pallister government’s health-care overhaul led to an increase in vacant nursing positions before the pandemic hit. That void contributed to a nurse workload that is “much heavier than it’s ever been,” said Jackson.

Jackson said appropriate personal protective equipment isn’t always available in some facilities, and that absence is also weighing on an already tired workforce.

“These nurses are incredibly stressed because not only do you have the workload and the staff shortage, now you have concerns about, ‘Am I protected? Are my residents or patients protected? And what am I taking home to my family?”

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COVID-19: Delta Hospital outbreak claims a life as 105 new cases reported – Vancouver Sun



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There have been 105 new cases of COVID-19 reported in B.C. over the past day and one death.

The provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, said there are now 1,268 cases of the disease, of which 69 are being treated in hospital including 20 in intensive care. The number of active cases has been falling.

There have been 9,013 cases of COVID-19 reported in B.C. since the first case appeared in late January in a man who returned to Vancouver from Wuhan, China, on a business trip.

Henry said 3,337 people are under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases and 7,485 people who had tested positive have recovered.

“There has been one new COVID-19 related death in Fraser Health, for a total of 234 deaths in British Columbia,” she said.

The death was connected to the Delta Hospital outbreak, where 17 people have contracted the disease.

Four of the 105 new cases are in long-term care facilities, including one at St. Paul’s Hospital.

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