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Two new COVID-19 outbreaks in BC offices | New West Record – The Record (New Westminster)

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New COVID-19 outbreaks have been discovered in the past 24 hours at Abbotsford’s New World Technologies and Delta”s Maersk Distribution Canada, B.C.’s provincial health officer Bonnie Henry said June 2.

She described both of these outbreaks as being in offices. Both workplaces have two cases, and public health teams are at both sites to investigate and determine which people may have had contact with the infected individuals.

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The new outbreaks come on what was otherwise a relatively good day, given that there were no new deaths in the last 24 hours, and a spate of outbreaks at seniors’ homes and at an acute-care ward at Abbotsford Regional Hospital are newly declared over. 

Henry said that outbreaks are declared over at North Vancouver’s Amica Edgemont Village, Vancouver’s Royal Arch Masonic Home, Maple Ridge’s Chartwell Willow Retirement Community, and Chilliwack’s Eden Care Centre. That means that no new cases have been discovered at those facilities in the past 28 days, or two incubation periods.

This leaves eight active outbreaks at seniors’ care facilities, all of which are long-term care residences. Two of those homes are in Vancouver Coastal Health, while six are in the Fraser Health region. No new cases of COVID-19 have been discovered at any of those homes in the past 24 hours. 

Health Minister Adrian Dix said that while the good news on fewer seniors’ home outbreaks and no new deaths is promising, the new outbreaks at businesses show that COVID-19 is alive and well in B.C. and “requires vigilance.”

B.C. recorded four new cases in the past 24 hours of the virus that has caused a global pandemic, and a total of 2,601 cases.

The breakdown of all COVID-19 infections by health region is:
• 904 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
• 1,311 in Fraser Health;
• 127 in Island Health;
• 195 in Interior Health; and
• 64 in Northern Health.

Of all of those who have been infected, 165 have died, 207 are battling illness and 2,229 have recovered.

Most of the 207 people with active illnesses are self-isolating at home, although 31 of them are in hospital, with eight of those in intensive care units. 

Dix shared other good news that was part of his weekly update on personal protective equipment. Two separate independent labs in the past week have confirmed lab test results done at the University of British Columbia that showed that respirators that B.C. has bought from a new manufacturer in China has exceeded necessary standards.

“This is excellent news for two reasons,” Dix said. “We have a significant inventory of this product – three million respirators in B.C.,  and now [we] are assured that the product is safe and effective for our healthcare workers. And, the availability of this equivalent product will reduce our reliance on the traditional 3M respirators that have been extremely difficult to procure due to global demand and supply-chain issues.”

The government has not yet introduced the equivalent respirators for use in the healthcare system because officials have wanted to take time first to communicate with workers about the new product, and to ensure that the respirators are tested to ensure that they fit all employees who may need to wear them, Dix said. 

“The significant boost of three million N95-equivalent respirators puts us in good stead as we ramp up our health system, catch up on scheduled surgery volumes and prepare our province for a potential second wave of COVID-19,” he said.

Overall, B.C. has acquired more than four million N-95 or equivalent respirators, about 4.5 million surgical masks, 27 million pairs of gloves, 1.3 million gowns and 1.25 million pieces of eye protection, including goggles and face shields. 

gkorstrom@biv.com

@GlenKorstrom 

 

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Manitoba's no new COVID-19 cases streak reaches 8 days – Winnipeg Sun

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Manitoba has hit eight-straight days without reporting a new positive COVID-19 test.

The last positive case reported in the province was from June 29. This is now the longest stretch Manitoba has gone without recording a positive since the pandemic started, there have been two previous streaks of six days without a case.

Manitoba’s total positive cases remains at 325 with only six active cases, none of whom are hospitalized. There have been 312 individuals who have fully recovered from COVID-19 and seven deaths.

Canada as a whole, sits at 108,120 total cases as of 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Only Maritime provinces, P.E.I. (32), Newfoundland and Labrador (261) and New Brunswick (165) have reported fewer cases among provinces. Quebec, meanwhile, has had the most cases with 56,079 while Ontario has reported 37,932. A total of 8,777 people in Canada have died from the virus.

jaldrich@postmedia.com

Twitter: @JoshAldrich03

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Doctor accused in Campbellton, N.B., COVID-19 outbreak won't face criminal charges, says lawyer – CBC.ca

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The doctor accused of being patient zero in a northern New Brunswick COVID-19 outbreak after he travelled to neighbouring Quebec in May and didn’t self-isolate upon his return has been notified he won’t face criminal charges, his lawyer said.

Dr. Jean Robert Ngola’s defence team is now “seeking answers as to why proper procedures were not followed, why [he] was singled out and why privacy laws were breached,” said a statement issued by EME Professional Corporation, the Toronto-based law firm representing him.

Ngola, who is from Congo but has had a practice in Campbellton, N.B., for about seven years, is also still seeking an apology from New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs for what his lawyer calls “unacceptable and unfounded public accusations” and for the “extreme racism and threats of violence that he and his family have had to endure.”

If Higgs refuses to apologize, Ngola’s legal team will seriously consider taking the matter to court, his lawyer, Joël Etienne, said.

“We firmly believe the premier should publicly apologize for the condemnation he hurled against Dr. Ngola without taking, in our opinion, satisfactory steps to learn the truth in the matter,” Etienne said in the statement.

The absence of criminal charges does not preclude the possibility of charges being laid under the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Act.

A spokesperson for the New Brunswick RCMP said the investigation is ongoing.

During a news conference late Wednesday afternoon, Higgs told reporters he stands by the comments he made on May 27.

Higgs never publicly named Ngola but blamed a cluster of COVID-19 cases in the Campbellton region and a resurgence of the coronavirus in the province on an “irresponsible” medical professional who travelled to Quebec for personal reasons, “was not forthcoming about their reasons for travel upon returning to New Brunswick” and didn’t self-isolate.

“If you ignore the rules, you put your family, your friends and your fellow New Brunswickers at risk,” Higgs had said. “Today’s case is evidence of that.”

“My position hasn’t changed,” Higgs said Wednesday. “The comments I made previously, I stand behind those comments. I don’t intend to withdraw them.”

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs said Wednesday he stands by comments he made in late May in which he blamed a cluster of COVID-19 cases in the Cambellton region on an ‘irresponsible’ medical professional who travelled to Quebec.’ (Ed Hunter/CBC)

Ngola drove to Quebec the week of May 10 to retrieve his four-year-old daughter because her mother had to travel to Africa for a funeral. He immediately returned to work at the Campbellton Regional Hospital without self-isolating for 14 days.

He and his daughter were both tested for COVID-19 on May 25 after he was informed one of his patients had tested positive for the respiratory disease. Although neither of them were exhibiting symptoms, their results came back positive. 

A total of 41 people in the Campbellton region became infected with COVID-19 during the outbreak that began May 21, and two of them, who were in their 80s, died. As of Wednesday, there is only one active case remaining in the province and it’s linked to that outbreak.

Etienne said his client was questioned by the RCMP to determine whether he should be charged with negligence causing death or bodily harm.

But the lawyer said he received confirmation a few days ago that no criminal charges will be laid.

No timeline on investigation

Cpl. Jullie Rogers-Marsh, spokesperson for the New Brunswick RCMP, said she is not aware if the RCMP had a conversation with any lawyer.

“However, we would not discuss any private conversations we have had anyway,” she said in an emailed statement.

“The investigation is still ongoing, that has not changed. I cannot speculate on the status of any charges as we are still investigating.”

On May 30, the New Brunswick RCMP received a complaint from the provincial government and the Vitalité Health Network regarding an individual who “may have violated the mandatory order under the current Emergency Measures Act by travelling outside of N.B., and not following the guidelines of self-isolating upon their return,” Rogers-Marsh said.

The RCMP are continuing to investigate to “determine if a violation has occurred.”

Rogers-Marsh declined to discuss the details of the investigation.

There is no timeline on how long the investigation will take, she said.

Doctor still suspended

Ngola, who is also known as Ngola Monzinga and as Jean Robert Ngola Monzinga, declined to comment on Wednesday, directing media inquiries to his lawyer.

He remains suspended, said Vitalité spokesperson Thomas Lizotte, identifying Ngola only as “the individual.”

“Unfortunately, we cannot add any more comments as this is a confidential file in human resources’ hands,” he said.

Ngola was suspended on May 28, the day after provincial officials announced his case without naming him.

He has about 2,000 patients and also works at the Campbellton Regional Hospital’s emergency department. He cannot practise anywhere in the province while suspended.

Joël Etienne, Ngola’s lawyer, has said he’ll consider legal action if Ngola doesn’t get a public apology from the premier. (EME Professional Corp.)

Ngola’s lawyer, who wrote a letter to the premier last month saying he had proof his client was not patient zero and seeking a public apology, has written him another letter.

“For us, it is a truth that he has always been innocent and that is why we ask the premier of the province once again to apologize,” Etienne said.

The defence team contends the province should have, “at a minimum,” initiated an investigation “before immediately blaming Dr. Ngola.”

The investigation, it contends, should have included:

  • Performing out-of-province contact tracing, in consultation with pandemic medical experts.
  • Investigating and tracing a “massive breach of privacy” that allegedly originated from within the government within an hour of Ngola testing positive for COVID-19 and resulted in the “unlawful outing and shaming” of him, complete with his photograph circulating on social media.

Defence hired its own investigators

Private investigators for Ngola concluded last month that he “could not have been the first patient” and that his trip to Quebec was not the source, his lawyer said.

During Ngola’s overnight round trip, he interacted with only a few people — all of whom subsequently tested negative for COVID-19, Etienne said.

Based on the coronavirus incubation period of up to two weeks, Etienne said, the investigator concluded Ngola was infected in New Brunswick by either a patient or a colleague and did not carry the virus over the border.

The premier said at the time he’s bound by privacy rules and limited in what he could say.

“But I am quite comfortable in the position that I’ve taken, how I’ve spoken about it and the reality of how this situation developed,” he said.

“And if the facts are all on the table, I am sure that others will be clear as well.”

Asked Wednesday what the government is doing to look into the defence’s allegations of a privacy breach, Higgs replied, “Well, I appreciate that’s been the accusation.

“I don’t believe that certainly that I did that. I was concerned about the protocols being followed. I think that Vitalité [has] done a lot of research in that regard. We’ve had lessons learned from that experience in Campbellton.”

Rules for health-care workers

Public Health officials did not respond Wednesday to a request for comment.

At the time of Ngola’s trip, health-care workers who live and work in New Brunswick were required to self-isolate for 14 days upon return from travel outside the province, officials have said.

There were exceptions, however. Doctors and nurses who work in New Brunswick but live across the border and commute regularly don’t have to isolate, for example.

Out-of-province doctors who fill in on a temporary basis, known as locums, had not been required by Vitalité to fully isolate. But the province’s pandemic task force became concerned about the number of locums coming in and issued a directive on May 19 requiring the regional health authorities to seek isolation exemptions for their locums through WorkSafeNB.

Before the Campbellton outbreak, New Brunswick had managed to flatten the COVID-19 curve, going more than two weeks without any new cases.

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No new cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba, extending streak to 8 days – CBC.ca

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Manitoba has extended its record to eight days without a new case of COVID-19 being reported in the province.

The total number of cases identified in Manitoba is still 325, the province said in its daily coronavirus news bulletin on Wednesday.

There are currently six active cases of COVID-19 in the province. That number is down from 11 on Tuesday — which was also when Manitoba set its previous record for the longest stretch with no new cases of COVID-19, as the province marked a full week without a new case of the illness.

The province twice before reached a six-day stretch without any new cases reported.

There is still no one in hospital with the illness caused by the new coronavirus. The total number of deaths related to COVID-19 in Manitoba is still seven.

In total, 312 people have recovered from the illness in Manitoba.

On Tuesday, 614 tests for COVID-19 were done in the province, bringing the total number of tests done since the start of the pandemic to 67,618.

The province again asked for feedback on possible personal care home visitation shelters in its daily bulletin. 

Those centres are intended to help provide quality visits with people living in care homes, while making sure physical distancing is maintained and visitors and residents have personal protective equipment.

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