Connect with us

Health

Toronto’s top doctor issues ‘warning to the entire city’ as new cases surpass 200 in single day

Published

 on

As new cases of COVID-19 in Toronto reach the highest point in the pandemic since May, city officials are moving for the first time to shut down establishments that have put members of the public at risk of virus spread.

On Friday afternoon, in a late-scheduled press conference, Dr. Eileen de Villa said there were 236 new cases and the first reported outbreak in a Toronto school with two students infected and more than two dozen isolating at home.

And the medical officer of health, under her own authority, has moved to close four “hospitality-focused” businesses that have flouted public health orders and thwarted investigators, including pressuring employees who are ill to continue working.

“An increase, day-over-day, of this scale is a warning to the entire city,” de Villa said, urging residents to stay six feet apart whenever they can from anyone they don’t live with, wear a mask and wash their hands.

De Villa said “several concerning factors” led to the orders under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, including: Several infected employees working at multiple locations; illegal buffet dining; unco-operative business owners hampering investigative efforts; and staff working while ill and concerns of staff being pressured to do so.

“These factors combined to create a significant risk to efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19.”

With the orders still outstanding Friday afternoon, de Villa promised to update the public on the names and locations of the businesses once orders were served.

The steps taken Friday are the first time the city is acting to close businesses outside of provincial orders after the province claimed bars and restaurants were not to blame.

On Friday, Toronto Public Health posted the first detailed example of virus spread demonstrating how a night out led to at least 20 confirmed cases and dozens of high- or low-risk contacts across three separate bars and how the infection spread from one place to the next.

 

“A powerful reminder that #COVID19 spreads when given the chance & we all need to take steps for self-protection: here’s a real-world example of how 1 night out in TO led to 20 cases & at least 80 people exposed to the virus who had to self-monitor, self-isolate & get tested,” the tweet said, showing a chart of cases and contacts across the three locations.

Friday’s new case number is the largest single-day total the city has reported since May 22.

According to the Star’s daily count, the city has averaged 167 new cases each day this week, the highest its seven-day average has been since early June.

That average has been accelerating since the city entered Stage 3 or reopening on July 31, and has more than doubled in just the last eight days.

In early August, Toronto was seeing as few as 13 cases reported each day on average.

Like much of Ontario, Toronto was hit hard in the spring by institutional outbreaks in long-term-care homes and hospitals, and by mid-April these vulnerable settings accounted for the largest share of total cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

So far in the fall, the city is not yet reporting a similar rise in new institutional outbreaks. According to city data, the recent spike has been mostly driven by close contact in non-outbreak settings, such as at home, and by untraceable spread in the community.

The numbers account for more than half of the province’s total Friday and came as Premier Doug Ford announced the province would restrict bars open hours and shut strip clubs.

The limit on drinking in bars comes more than two months after the city requested the province make those rules — ahead of Stage 3 — to help reduce the risk of virus spread.

On Friday, when pressed by a reporter on why it took so long to implement those measures, Ford said they were being “cautious,” noting an earlier decline in cases.

Meanwhile all but one of Toronto’s health indicators on its online dashboard were yellow or red. Only the percentage of positive test results, at 1.9 per cent, was green.

 

But Dr. Irfan Dhalla, a vice-president and general internist at St. Michael’s Hospital, tweeted even that number may be troubling, saying other targets are much lower than the city’s 10 per cent — less than 0.1 per cent or between 0.1 and 1 per cent.

“So, really, there’s nothing green anymore on Toronto’s scorecard,” he wrote Friday.

Asked how the current case count will affect schools, de Villa said the first outbreak was expected and she anticipates more in future.

Two students at Glen Park Public School, near Bathurst Street and Lawrence Avenue West, have tested positive and are isolating at home. As a precaution, a teacher and two classes, with 35 students total, are also isolating.

A total of 28 other schools in the Toronto District School Board were also reporting cases, for a total of 20 infected students and 14 infected teachers. Richview Collegiate had the most, with three infected students.

The Toronto Catholic District School Board reported eight infected students and three infected staff at 10 schools.

Glen Park is the only Toronto school that meets Ontario’s “outbreak” definition of at least two cases where at least one is “linked to a school setting,” de Villa said. That suggests one student infected another, as opposed to schools where all the infected students contracted the virus at home or another setting.

“This (outbreak) definition supports a swift response that will help manage the spread of COVID-19 aggressively …,” de Villa said.

 

The Star spoke to a mother of a 10-year-old girl at Glen Park Public School who was among the children sent home to isolate for two weeks.

“We are still on the fence on whether it is worth getting in a lineup for testing,” said the mother, who did not want her name used.

On Wednesday, she said, parents received information from Toronto Public Health saying there was a case of COVID in the school but weren’t given any additional details, such as the grade level, so they could prepare themselves.

“It was really frustrating. It’s a quite a big school and it would have been very helpful to get more information from Toronto Public Health,” she said.

On Friday morning, a new message from Toronto Public Health was waiting.

“I woke up to an email saying there was a case in her class and she would be isolated,” she said.

“There was definitely a sense of high anxiety among the parents initially. It’s not an email you want to get but you put it in perspective.”

It was “bad luck” that Glen Park ended up with positive cases of COVID, she said. Staff have worked hard to get the students familiar with safety practices like social distancing and cohorting classes.

“They have tried to do everything they can to prevent this. Everything is very well planned out. It’s well organized.

“Here, if they have to go to the bathroom every class has 15 minutes where they can go knowing there won’t be a big group of kids,” she said.

The email that detailed the rules for isolation was soon followed by a message from her daughter’s teacher who said classes would continue on Zoom with two or three sessions held each day.

“It was very reassuring,” the mother said. “They are going to learn a lot about resilience and flexibility from all of this.”

“It is obviously unfortunate but it is not unexpected,” said Ryan Bird, TDSB spokesperson.

“With the numbers continuing to climb in Toronto and elsewhere, we did anticipate that we would have these cases start popping up in our schools among our students and staff.”

Bird said the TDSB continues with “enhanced cleaning multiple times a day” along with requirements for universal masking among students and staff, proper physical distancing and hand washing.

In a statement Friday, Coun. Joe Cressy, the city’s board of health chair, warned the city was reaching a “dangerous tipping point in our battle with COVID-19” and risk of future lockdown.

“Other jurisdictions that have been successful at containing the virus have shown that we need policies that directly respond to the very real risks that we’re facing,” his statement said. “While today’s announcement is welcome news, we still need more proactive actions on the part of all governments — and we need it now.”

He said that includes boosting testing capacity across the province and the federal and provincial governments working to provide rapid testing options for those in high-risk workplaces.

Elsewhere, officials were being clear about telling people to stay apart.

 

Quebec Premier Christian Dubé asked residents to cancel their gatherings over the next few weeks, including Thanksgiving, the CBC reported Thursday, as the province remains the hardest hit by the virus in the country.

With files from David Rider, Ed Tubb and Moira Welsh

 

 

Jennifer Pagliaro is a Toronto-based reporter covering city hall and municipal politics for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @jpags

JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Q:

Has Toronto’s recent surge in cases changed your behaviour or daily life? Share your thoughts.

Conversations are opinions of our readers and are subject to the Code of Conduct. The Star does not endorse these opinions.

Source: – Toronto Star

Source link

Continue Reading

Health

Ottawa Public Health flu shot clinics open, new appointments available at 9 a.m. – CTV News

Published

 on


OTTAWA —
Ottawa residents will be able to roll up their sleeves and get the flu shot starting today at Ottawa Public Health clinics across the city.

The health unit will also release more appointment slots for the flu shot at 9 a.m., after the first seven days were booked within 18 hours last week.

Flu shot clinics will operate by appointment-only at six locations across the city seven-days a week, from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. The flu shot clinic locations are:

  • Notre-Dame-Des-Champs Community Hall, 3659 Navan Road, Orléans
  • Ottawa Public Library-Orleans Branch, 1705 Orléans Blvd., Orléans
  • Lansdowne – Horticulture Building, 1525 Princess Patricia, Glebe
  • Mary Pitt Centre, 100 Constellation Dr., Nepean
  • Chapman Mills Community Building, 424 Chapman Mills Drive, Barrhaven
  • Eva James Memorial Centre, 65 Stonehaven Drive, Kanata

All six flu shot clinic locations will be appointment only, and no walk-up appointments are available.

Last Thursday, the health unit launched the appointment system to book a slot at the six clinics for the first seven days of the flu shot clinics from Oct. 29 to Nov. 4. Nearly 10,000 people booked an appointment for the first seven days within 18 hours.

Approximately 1,500 spaces are available daily at the six flu shot clinic locations. 

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches told reporters this week that new appointments will become available to book online starting at 9 a.m. Thursday.

The flu shot clinics will continue until everyone gets the flu shot that wants to get a flu shot.

Ottawa Public Health’s goal is to have 70 per cent of the population receive the flu shot this fall and winter.

For more information about the flu vaccine and to book an appointment, visit www.ottawapublichealth.ca/flu

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Health

Man in his 90s one of two new COVID-19 cases in Kingston region – St. Thomas Times-Journal

Published

 on


A resident and an employee at an Amherstview seniors and long-term care home are in isolation after Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox and Addington Public Health deemed them positive for COVID-19.

The home, Helen Henderson Care Centre, declared an outbreak on Wednesday as a result. It said in a news release that the resident and staff member are asymptomatic and isolating. No other staff or residents are showing symptoms, the home said.

It said the resident tested positive but the staff member received a negative swab. The home did not explain why public health declared the staff member a positive case. Jenn Fagan, spokesperson for public health, said it is still under investigation why the staff member was deemed positive.

On Wednesday, public health announced two new cases of the virus in the region. One is a man in his 20s, who caught the virus from an already positive close contact, and the other is a man in his 90s. The authority also announced two new recoveries, keeping the active case count at seven.

The man in his 90s is the oldest resident in the region to test positive. The next youngest were nine people in their 70s.

The public health authority is also asking some Kingston Transit riders to monitor themselves for symptoms after a fellow passenger tested positive for the virus. Fagan would not say when the passenger in question tested positive.

“For confidentiality reasons, we are not able to share any identifying information of any of case or potential case outside of the established contact tracing and case management procedures,” she said.

The ill passenger rode Kingston Transit north on Tuesday from 11 a.m. to noon and south between 4 and 5 p.m.; north on Wednesday between 1 and 2 p.m. and south between 6 and 7 p.m.; north on Thursday between 9 and 10 a.m. and south between 2 and 3 p.m.; and north on Friday between noon and 1 p.m. and south between 5 and 6 p.m.

Anyone who rode Route 1 during these times should monitor themselves until Nov. 6, which is 14 days after the last risk of exposure, public health said.

“The individual with a COVID-19 infection wore a face covering during all bus trips — and most likely other riders also did due to the mandatory requirement for face coverings — which can reduce the possibility of infection transmission to others,” public health said.

The Kingston region has had 182 cases of the virus since March of this year. While the cases were first found in a variety of ages, recently, the vast majority have been found in people in their 20s.

At the Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox and Addington Board of Health meeting on Wednesday, Megan Carter, local public health’s research associate in knowledge management, provided modelling that showed what might happen to 10 active cases in 20 days using different doubling periods: 14 days, 12 days and “the worst-case scenario” of seven days.

At our current doubling rate of 14 days, by mid-November there could between five and 47 new cases. If the doubling rate decreased to 12 days, there could be between seven and 56 cases, and if it decreased to seven days, there could be between 19 and 130 active cases.

Carter reiterated that the models show only what “might” happen, but the models are important for public health to prepare for the future.

Dr. Mark Mckelvie of Queen’s University’s department of public health and preventative medicine gave a general rundown of the region’s current COVID-19 status. He told the board of the region’s “chain of protection.”

The chain included the various different community members, including families, businesses, public health, hospitals, long-term care, military, correctional services and many others. He explained that all linked together, everyone needs to fulfil their roles to keep the region in its bubble.

“We really appreciate what people are doing and we thank the community for their co-operation,” Mckelvie said, adding that what everyone is doing is “saving lives.”

He then reminded the board that many of the cases in the region are connected to someone who has travelled, so staying local continues to be important.

The public health dashboard states 26 of the area’s cases caught the virus while traveling, 112 caught the virus from a close contact who had already tested positive, information is still pending for three cases and public health has found no epidemiological link for 41 local cases.

Mckelvie also spoke to the board about public health’s seasonal influenza strategy. He told the board that the National Advisory Committee on Immunization estimates that about 12,200 Canadians are hospitalized and 3,500 die every year of influenza. Last year, 42,537 Canadians tested positive for the flu. Those at the most risk are the elderly, the very young, pregnant women and people with chronic conditions.

While the Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox and Addington area has been above the provincial vaccination rate of about 40 per cent, Dr. Kieran Moore, medical officer of health, has set the goal of vaccinating 60 per cent of the region.

The local public health authority has been allocated 72,000 vaccines by the province to distribute, in addition to the more than 16,700 allocated to local pharmacies.

scrosier@postmedia.com

twitter.com/StephattheWhig

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Health

Manitoba piloting rapid COVID-19 testing for healthcare workers – CTV News Winnipeg

Published

 on


Public health officials in Manitoba are piloting a project to help reassure health care workers that they are safe when coming to work.

Lanette Siragusa, the chief nursing officer with Shared Health, revealed on Wednesday that public health is piloting a rapid COVID-19 testing pattern for healthcare workers.

“As of last week at the Health Sciences Centre, 150 symptomatic health care workers were tested,” Siragusa said, noting 146 of the workers tested negative for COVID-19, and were cleared to work.

Four of the staff members tested positive, and are now self-isolating.

The goal of the pilot project is to see if hospitals will be able to identify positive tests among staff earlier and help potentially reduce the spread of COVID-19 in health care facilities.

Siragusa said the rapid testing is also not a substitute for wearing approved personal protective equipment while working.

She added rapid testing could become important in the coming months.

“(Rapid testing) could prove to be an important tool as we approach the respiratory virus season, when many health care workers may have one or more influenza-like illness symptoms, but do not have COVID-19,” Siragusa said.

The pilot project is currently being assessed by public health, and Siragusa said they will announce more on it in the coming days.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending