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Ventilator supply starts to increase as Tam warns of possible surge of COVID-19 – National Post

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OTTAWA — Less than two per cent of the 40,000 new ventilators Canada ordered for hospitals last spring have already been delivered.

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says Canada is better prepared for a fall wave of COVID-19 than it was in the spring, but also says that wave could be big enough to overwhelm Canada’s health-care system, including its supply of ventilators.

Health Canada won’t say how many ventilators hospitals could need to respond to such a surge, but insists it has enough for now, with the new ones ordered meant to augment existing stockpiles.

Only 606 of the 40,328 ventilators Ottawa ordered in April and May have arrived, but at least three of the companies involved say they expect to double or even triple the number they ship in the coming weeks.

Four of them needed Health Canada approval for their product, which is still outstanding in two cases, and another said supply chain issues delayed production.

While the contracts for the ventilators, worth more than $1.1 billion, run through March 2021, most of the companies expect to fulfil their entire order before the end of the year.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 15, 2020.

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Fourth staff member at Fellowes High School tests positive for COVID-19 – The Cold Lake Sun

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The Renfrew County and District Health Unit has ordered the closure of Fellowes High School due to a COVID-19 outbreak involving three staff members. A fourth staff member tested positive Thursday.

Tina Peplinskie / jpg, PM

The Renfrew County District Health Unit has confirmed a fourth staff member from Fellowes High School has tested positive for COVID-19.

RCDHU had deemed this person a probable case which factored into the decision to close the school on Sept. 16. This individual did not have any further exposures beyond the classes that have already been identified for testing and the staff member who became symptomatic last week has not been at school this week, according to a release issued Thursday evening.

The good news is that RCDHU has received negative test results for some staff and for all but two of the students in the original class that was exposed to the staff cases; these two tests have yet to be reported.

This afternoon RCDHU tested 98 individuals, 83 staff and 15 students. Almost all the staff from the school was tested along with most of the students considered to be at highest risk. There will be further testing tomorrow, for the remaining staff and students that could not attend today.

RCDHU will continue to update the school community and the public daily. In the meantime, RCDHU asks everyone to rigorously observe public health precautions as follows:

  • Limit your social activities and keep your bubble small.
  • Practice physical distancing (maintaining 2 metre distance).
  • Wear a mask when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Clean your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then clean your hands.
  • If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve and then clean your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, unless you have just cleaned your hands. • If you are ill, stay home.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Get your flu shot.
  • Use the COVID Alert App.

For all other information, visit RCDHU’s website at https://www.rcdhu.com/novelcoronavirus-covid-19-2/ or call 613-735-8654. For COVID-19 testing dates and times visit the Renfrew County Virtual Triage Assessment Centre (RCVTAC) website at www.rcvtac.ca for the testing schedule or call RCVTAC at 1- 844-727-6404 to book an appointment for testing.

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Mouth wash test coming for school-aged children in British Columbia – Red Deer Advocate

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VICTORIA — British Columbia is introducing a new saline gargle test for students from kindergarten to Grade 12 to help make COVID-19 testing easier for children and teenagers.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said B.C. is one of the first places in the world to use a mouth rinse gargle test for the new coronavirus.

“Unlike the (nasal) swab, this is a new saline gargle where you put a little bit of saline water, that is sterile water, in your mouth, you swish it around and spit it into a little tube,” she said at a news conference Thursday.

“This test is kind of cool and something we’ve had in the works for a while. This new method is more comfortable, particularly for our younger children.”

It is developed by a B.C. company, which reduces the province’s dependency on the global supply chain, she said.

Henry described the test as more efficient, which shortens the long lineups and wait times.

Getting tested is key in the fight against the pandemic and the test will make it easier to collect samples from young people, she said.

The test can be done without a health professional by parents or children themselves.

With schools reopening, Henry said the focus of this new and “easier” method of testing will be on children until there are more supplies.

“And we’re hoping to make it more broadly available as we go forward.”

The province announced a record daily high of 165 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and one additional death, bringing the death toll to 220.

There has been a total of 7,663 cases of COVID-19 in the province.

The uptick is caused by a combination of increased testing, awareness and contact tracing, Henry said.

“Remember that today’s cases are people who have been exposed over the last two weeks.”

The province tested 7,674 people for COVID-19 on Wednesday, the highest number of COVID-19 tests ever conducted in B.C. in a single day.

Health Minister Adrian Dix reminded people to keep groups small and limit social gatherings.

“So, this weekend, and as we plan for Thanksgiving in the fall months ahead, let us once again close ranks on COVID-19, and change its course,” he said.

— By Hina Alam in Vancouver.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 17, 2020.

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Alberta ends broad asymptomatic testing as flu season approaches; 146 new cases – Calgary Herald

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Alberta was the first province in Canada to offer widespread asymptomatic testing, a decision made in order to collect population-level data on the effects of Alberta’s reopening on COVID-19 case counts.

Since May 29, when the broad asymptomatic testing was introduced, the province completed about 233,000 such tests, with only 0.07 per cent returning positive — about 163 cases.

The low positivity rate shows this capacity could be better utilized, Hinshaw said.

“The asymptomatic testing program has also helped our labs prepare for the large volume of testing we will need in the months ahead,” Hinshaw said. “We processed a large volume of tests this summer, which has helped stress-test our system and identify places where we need to improve.”

Alberta’s testing capacity has increased gradually since the pandemic began in March, and the province was a world leader in testing capacity during much of the past six months. The province’s single-day testing record is nearly 19,000 tests, and more than 900,000 Albertans have been tested for the coronavirus at least once.

One expansion to Alberta’s testing capacity came when asymptomatic testing came to local pharmacies. Hinshaw said pharmacies would still be able to administer asymptomatic tests to those who are in priority groups.

Hinshaw said Alberta has been preparing for the flu season in a number of ways, including by ordering 360,000 extra doses of vaccines. A high-dose vaccine will also be made available for residents of continuing-care facilities. As well, Hinshaw said the province is looking at ways to deliver flu vaccines that won’t involve being in crowded, indoor spaces.

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