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Three Shoppers Drug Mart workers test positive for virus in Belleville stores

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Medical officer of health Dr. Piotr Oglaza stands outside Hastings Prince Edward Public Health.
FILE


Luke Hendry / Luke Hendry

Three employees at a trio of Shoppers Drug Mart store locations in Belleville “have tested positive on a presumptive test for COVID-19”and are in isolation away from work, said parent firm Loblaw Companies Limited.

Word of the three cases follows public notification by Hastings-Prince Edward Public Health of two positive cases of COVID-19, one recorded Tuesday and another reported Thursday in the region.

The transmission origin of Tuesday’s case is listed as pending while Thursday’s case was attributed to close-contact transmission.

Loblaw Companies said on its website that given “the important role we play in our communities, we are prepared for all possible situations, including a positive test for COVID-19 in our stores.”

All public safety measures are taken by Shoppers Drug Mart to clean and sanitize stores following a positive test of an employee, the firm said.

“In these cases, we work closely with public health and follow their guidance to ensure proper notification of close contacts and required cleaning and sanitization in our stores.”

The company said for “transparency, we regularly update the sections … with all positive COVID-19 cases in our stores by province in the last 15 days. For privacy, we will not release any personal information about our colleagues and employees.”

One infected employee working at Shoppers’ 150 Sidney Street location worked their last day Sept. 23, said the company, while another infected employee at Shoppers’ 405 Dundas Street location worked their last day Sept. 20, the company confirmed.

The employee at Quinte Mall’s Shoppers Drug Mart location at the Quinte Mall’s 390 North Front Street location worked their last day at the store Sept. 22, said the firm.

Quinte Mall property management did not return a phone call by The Intelligencer placed Monday for comment on any possible actions, if any, were needed to protect mall visitors.

Dr. Piotr Oglaza, medical officer of health for Hastings-Prince Edward Public Health, declined comment Monday on the Shoppers’ employee testing positive on a presumptive test at Quinte Mall and whether there was a safety concern for a privately-owned mall that sees high footfall daily on its premises.

Oglaza told The Intelligencer in an interview the health unit is bound by provincial health privacy provisions not to release information that could lead to the identification of an individual.

However, speaking in general terms, Oglaza said identifying an individual case and issuing a public COVID-19 advisory can be warranted if the health unit deems a public health safety risk to the public when proper contract tracing cannot locate all people who have been exposed to an infected person.

In the case of a COVID-19 outbreak earlier this year at a Kingston beauty services salon, for example, health unit officials there made the name of the spa public to trace all customers who may have visited the spa in order to conduct further contact tracing to find, isolate and stem any further spread of the virus.

Oglaza said contact tracing in all 54 local cases so far listed by HPE Public Health up until Tuesday’s latest additional case confirmation has been successful to the point that there has been no need to make any public appeals in the health unit’s catchment area.

Contact tracing is key to countering more anticipated cases in a second wave, Oglaza said, because health officials can rapidly identify, trace and isolate new infections to avoid community spread throughout Hastings and Prince Edward catchment area.

“There is a role, time and place for public announcements. That’s when we are unable to trace contact if the nature of the setting is challenging, impossible, and if there is a risk if we don’t get to the public,” Oglaza said.

“In cases of COVID-19, our work is really focusing on as quickly as possible connecting with the person who has been confirmed and getting from them a detailed history of who they’ve been in contact with over a certain amount of time we deemed they were infectious and then getting that list of individuals and connecting with them directly.”

“In that situation, once these contacts are basically identified,” Oglaza said, “connected with all the measures that are in place, there really is no need for anything more for the public to know other than there is a case and it’s being handled by us because any more information provided by a case could potentially lead to identify who that individual is and we’re not a position to do that.”

“This is personal health information,” Oglaza said.

 

 

Source: – Belleville Intelligencer

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Premier says he hopes to ease restrictions in hotspots as early as next weekend – 680 News

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Premier Ford says he hopes to begin easing restrictions in COVID-19 hotspots as early as next weekend.

The 28 day step back for Toronto, Peel Region, and Ottawa into a modified stage 2 expires at 12:01 a.m. next Saturday and one week later in York Region.

In his daily COVID-19 update, Ford says the latest modelling supports the move.

“Based on what I’m seeing in the modelling, I’ve asked our public health experts to come back next week with a plan to begin to ease restrictions in a way that safely allows businesses to open up when the 28 days is over.”

Ford says the restrictions that closed indoor dining rooms, gyms, and other businesses were never intended to be long-term solutions but were necessary to avoid reaching a point where more drastic measures would be needed.

The province released modelling on Thursday that revealed the growth of the second wave has slowed.

When the Ford government introduced the modified Stage 2 restrictions back on Oct. 10, cases were doubling every 10 to 12 days.

While growth has slowed, cases are still on the rise, with Ontario’s seven-day average surpassing 900 for the first time on Friday.

Ontario restaurants ask province to explain restrictions, show COVID-19 data

A group from Ontario’s restaurant industry is calling on the provincial government to explain its decision to impose tighter COVID-19 restrictions on the sector.

A coalition that includes the industry association Restaurants Canada and a number of food service businesses has issued an open letter to Premier Doug Ford, asking to see what data the province relied on in setting its health measures.

The letter says no data have been provided so far that would suggest restaurants are a major point of transmission for the virus.

It notes restaurants have had to make significant investments in safety procedures and training, personal protective equipment and other measures, yet those in some regions are nonetheless being forced to stop serving customers indoors.

The document released yesterday by the province showed that in four COVID-19 hot spots — where indoor dining is currently banned — the proportion of outbreaks linked to restaurants and bars between Aug. 1 and Oct. 24 ranged between 3.2 and 27.14 per cent.

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, said the provincial health table recommended targeting any “risk sites” where transmission could potentially be higher

Hospital association says more funding is needed

Ontario’s hospitals are facing “unprecedented” financial pressures because of the pandemic, the head of the association representing them said Friday, asking the government to speed up funding promised to address COVID-19 costs.

Anthony Dale, president of the Ontario Hospital Association, said many hospitals are using lines of credit or funding previously earmarked for capital projects to pay for pandemic-response measures.

Hospital resources are stretched thin, and many facilities remain at or above capacity, Dale said.

“For the hospital sector, we are spending a king’s ransom to fight this pandemic,” Dale said. “The hospital sector is facing unprecedented, truly unprecedented, financial pressures.”

In August, the province set aside billions in new funding to address COVID-19 costs in the health-care system.

Dale said, however, that while the government is aware of the fiscal pressure hospitals are facing, only COVID-19 costs from March and April have been covered so far.

If the additional funding promised by the province doesn’t begin to flow soon, the facilities may eventually not be able make payroll, he said.

“We hope that would never seriously happen in a hospital, but the reality is, at a certain point in time you hit a wall,” he said. “You really lose your ability to pay for your daily operating costs … because you don’t have cash on hand.”

Dale said slowing community spread of the virus is also an important part of relieving the stress on hospital resources and, in turn, cutting costs.

Ford responded to a question about the letter Friday’s news conference, saying he looks forward to speaking with Dale, but wishes the OHA would call him before releasing open letters.

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Paramount Foods CEO urges province to bring back indoor dining after data shows majority of outbreaks are not in restaurants – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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The owner of a well-known Middle Eastern food chain is demanding the Ontario government to reverse its decision and allow dine-in services in some hot spots after provincial data revealed that the majority of outbreaks in those areas are not linked to restaurants and bars.

On Thursday, the Ford government’s official modelling table provided three different scenarios for the second wave of COVID-19 in the province.

The report included data regarding the source of outbreaks in the four regions under a modified version of Stage 2.

Ontario government banned indoor dining and closed facilities like gyms and movie theatres in Toronto, Ottawa, Peel, and York earlier this month to curb the spread of COVID-19.

However, according to the data released on Thursday, restaurants and bars in Ottawa, Peel and York only accounted for two per cent, three per cent, and eight per cent of all outbreaks in their areas, respectively, between August and October.

In Toronto, 14 per cent of outbreaks were traced back to restaurants, bars, and clubs. Gyms and sports only accounted for three per cent of outbreaks in the city.

During that period, most outbreaks were reported in schools, child-care centres, and long-term care homes.

Source of outbreaks

Speaking to CP24 on Thursday night, Paramount Fine Foods CEO Mohamad Fakih said he is shocked to find out about the data, saying that many restaurants agreed to comply with restrictions, not only because owners want Ontarians to be safe, but also because many trusted that officials are making decisions based on the numbers.

“It makes me wonder if the Ontario government has any idea what it’s doing. We were promised a data-based approach,” Fakih said.

“Let’s fix what we’ve done wrong, so reopen the dine-in immediately.”

He said it is unbelievable that they shut down restaurants in places like Peel and Ottawa even though those establishments were not the problem.

“The provincial government needs to start doing a better job tailoring the closures to where cases are actually coming from. Surely that should be the whole point of restrictions,” Fakih said.

“Destroying people’s businesses, taking away that livelihood and killing their jobs is exactly the opposite of looking after the little guy, no matter what the premier says.”

When asked why restaurants and bars were closed in those four regions, health officials said those establishments are considered “social settings.”

“We were picking those settings where it’s indoors, where people are unable to mask for long periods of time,” Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said.

Williams added that facilities such as schools and long-term care homes have “proper steps and (personal protective equipment) in place.”

Adalsteinn Brown, the co-chair of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, said the data is “complicated.”

“The variation in the source of outbreaks across those four public health units that had restrictions reasonably showing us that there’s not one consistent pattern,” Brown said.

“There’s often concern that we need to wait to see outbreaks in a particular public health unit before instituting restrictions. That would be akin to waiting to close the barn door until after the horses left.”

Meanwhile, Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown said the data confirms what he’s been saying for quite some time that restaurants are not the source of COVID-19 spread.

“Restaurants were doing their job. They were following the advice of public health,” Brown said in an interview with CP24.

While the provincial data suggests that only three percent of outbreaks in Peel were traced back to the hospitality industry, Brown said the region’s medical officer of health, Dr. Lawrence Loh, informed him that there hadn’t been a single case in a restaurant setting.

The mayor said it shows that the data does not support tightening restrictions in restaurants and bars especially in his region.

“I do hope that once this 28-day period is over, that we can get these small businesses back and open,” Brown said. “Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, and our restaurants are really hurting right now.”

Peel was moved back to Stage 2 because there were concerns that Toronto residents would dine in the region, but Brown said the province could have been more surgical.

“If the data supports it, then yes, shut it down. But in the case of restaurants and recreation, it really wasn’t supported by data,” the mayor said.

“The spring was disastrous, and I was worried we’re going to see businesses go under if we don’t give them a plan to reopen.”

Brown hopes the province will give restaurants a blessing to reopen soon.

“I really believe that when there’s a will, there’s a way. And if it’s earlier closing hours, smaller capacity, we can do it. We can reopen these safely,” he said.

– with files from CTV Toronto’s Katherine DeClerq

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Two new cases of COVID-19 announced in Nova Scotia Friday – HalifaxToday.ca

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NEWS RELEASE
COVID-19/HEALTH/WELLNESS
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As of today, Oct. 30, Nova Scotia has six active cases of COVID-19. Two new cases were identified Thursday, Oct. 29.

The two new cases are in the Northern Zone and are related to travel outside Atlantic Canada. One individual has been in self-isolation since returning to the province, as required. The other individual was not required to self-isolate under the Health Protection Act Order, but did self-isolate as symptoms developed. The order allows workers who are essential to the movement of people and goods and who must enter Nova Scotia as part of their work, to be exempt from the requirement to self-isolate.

Nova Scotia Health Authority’s labs completed 950 Nova Scotia tests on Oct. 29.

To date, Nova Scotia has 111,395 negative test results, 1,104 positive COVID-19 cases and 65 deaths. No one is currently in hospital. Cases range in age from under 10 to over 90. One thousand and thirty-three cases are now resolved. Cases have been identified in all parts of the province. Cumulative cases by zone may change as data is updated in Panorama.

The province is renewing the state of emergency to protect the health and safety of Nova Scotians and ensure safety measures and other important actions can continue. The order will take effect at noon Sunday, Nov. 1 and extend to noon Sunday, Nov. 15, unless government terminates or extends it.

Visit https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/ to do a self-assessment if in the past 48 hours you have had or you are currently experiencing:
— fever (i.e. chills/sweats) or cough (new or worsening)
Or:
Two or more of the following symptoms (new or worsening):
— sore throat
— runny nose/ nasal congestion
— headache
— shortness of breath

Call 811 if you cannot access the online self-assessment or wish to speak with a nurse about your symptoms.

When a new case of COVID-19 is confirmed, public health works to identify and test people who may have come in close contact with that person. Those individuals who have been confirmed are being directed to self-isolate at home, away from the public, for 14 days.

Anyone who has travelled outside of Atlantic Canada must self-isolate for 14 days. As always, any Nova Scotian who develops symptoms of acute respiratory illness should limit their contact with others until they feel better.

It remains important for Nova Scotians to strictly adhere to the public health order and directives – practise good hand washing and other hygiene steps, maintain a physical distance when and where required. Wearing a non-medical mask is mandatory in most indoor public places.

As of July 3, interprovincial travel within Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador, without the requirement to self-isolate for permanent Atlantic Canadian residents, is permitted. All public health directives of each province must be followed. Under Nova Scotia’s Health Protection Act order, visitors from other Canadian provinces and territories must self-isolate for 14 days. Other visitors from outside the Atlantic provinces who have self-isolated for 14 days in another Atlantic province may travel to Nova Scotia without self-isolating again.

On Oct. 22, New Brunswick announced further restrictions related to a COVID-19 outbreak in the Campbellton-Restigouche region of northern New Brunswick. Nova Scotians should avoid unnecessary travel to that area.

Nova Scotians can find accurate, up-to-date information, handwashing posters and fact sheets at https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus .

Businesses and other organizations can find information to help them safely reopen at https://novascotia.ca/reopening-nova-scotia .

Quick Facts:
— testing numbers are updated daily at https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus
— a state of emergency was declared under the Emergency Management Act on March 22 and extended to Nov. 15
— online booking for COVID-19 testing appointments is available for Nova Scotians getting a test through primary assessment centres in the Central Zone or at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax

Additional Resources:
Government of Canada: https://canada.ca/coronavirus

Government of Canada information line 1-833-784-4397 (toll-free)

The Mental Health Provincial Crisis Line is available 24/7 to anyone experiencing a mental health or addictions crisis, or someone concerned about them, by calling 1-888-429-8167 (toll-free)

Kids Help Phone is available 24/7 by calling 1-800-668-6868 (toll-free)

For help or information about domestic violence 24/7, call 1-855-225-0220 (toll-free)

For more information about COVID-19 testing and online booking, visit https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/symptoms-and-testing/

The COVID-19 self-assessment is at https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/
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