WINNIPEG — A COVID-19 outbreak at a fly-in reserve in Manitoba and increasing infections in First Nations populations in the province has leaders worried.
“It’s a wake-up call for all of us,” said Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Arlen Dumas.
The First Nations population in Manitoba was largely spared of infections earlier this year during the first wave of COVID-19, as leaders imposed travel restrictions and lockdowns.
But Dumas said the initial success “allowed for a bit of apathy to creep in.”
There have been 179 COVID-19 cases among First Nations people in Manitoba, with most in the last few weeks, according to the Manitoba First Nations COVID-19 Pandemic Response Coordination Team.
Leading up to the Thanksgiving weekend, there were 143 active cases among First Nations people in the province. Sixty of those were on reserves, which is more than half of all on-reserve cases in the country.
Federal Minister of Indigenous Services Marc Miller warned last week that with a rise in outbreaks across Canada that the second wave of COVID-19 would hit Indigenous communities harder.
Dumas said chiefs in Manitoba are fighting to ensure the pandemic doesn’t gain a stronger foothold in the province.
Doctors and nurses from the assembly’s pandemic response team, as well as members of the Canadian Red Cross, were dispatched to York Factory First Nation, north of Thompson, at the start of the month after a family of seven was found to have been infected.
Soon after, teams were also sent to Little Grand Rapids First Nation, where 38 members have so far tested positive.
Dumas said the community of about 1,300, located about 260 km northeast of Winnipeg near the Ontario border, faces a lot of challenges in responding to the outbreak.
Community members need to take a boat to get to the nearest airport. Those who have tested positive and are considered vulnerable are being flown to Winnipeg, because there’s no quick access to care if their health declines further.
Come winter, the airport will only be accessible by ice road.
“It’s the reality of the logistical nightmare,” Dumas said. “The difficulty of service, the level of service that is afforded to our remote and isolated communities, is very minimal.”
Ottawa has provided two Blu-Med negative-pressure isolation tents to Little Grand Rapids to be used for COVID-19 tests and administration. Dumas is also calling for a field hospital to be set up in the north ahead of winter.
He warned that COVID-19 for Indigenous people can be deadly.
Dr. Marcia Anderson, who is Cree-Anishinaabe and works with the First Nations response team, said Indigenous people have higher rates of underlying chronic diseases like diabetes, which are linked to things like housing and food insecurity. It also means they are more susceptible to the severe impacts of COVID-19.
She said that more than 50 per cent of people in hospital with COVID-19 in Manitoba are First Nations. And they make up one-third of those in intensive care.
It means First Nations people have 10 times the rate of hospitalizations, compared to the rest of Manitoba, she added.
“(It’s) a really concerning trend,” Anderson said during the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs weekly update.
Melanie MacKinnon, head of the First Nations response team, said the Little Grand Rapids outbreak has shown that people need to take precautions and start planning for a challenging time ahead.
“Start thinking about a contingency plan.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 14, 2020.
Parkview Place to test all residents as more than 40% now infected with COVID-19 – CBC.ca
The for-profit company that owns Parkview Place is ramping up efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 by bringing in new staff and paying to have every resident tested.
This comes after Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) staff entered the residence last weekend for the first time since March and found numerous deficiencies including lack of cleaning, lack of staff knowledge of outbreak protocols and the need for more medical and clinical staff.
Ninety-seven of the home’s 221 residents — 44 per cent — have tested positive for the novel coronavirus since the outbreak began on Sept. 15, based on Parkview’s most recent occupancy figures.
As of Sunday afternoon, there are 17 reported deaths at Parkview.
Revera says it engaged Dynacare on Friday to test all residents at Parkview Place as part of a pilot project in order to accelerate the testing process and inform efforts to cohort and isolate residents.
Dynacare is the same private lab that’s analyzing some of the swabs for the provincial COVID-19 testing program.
“We appreciate the support of the WRHA in approving this Revera-funded solution to accelerate testing of our residents,” said Dr. Rhonda Collins, Revera’s chief medical officer who is registered to practice in Ontario.
Collins said more than 200 residents have been tested to date.
Twenty-six staff members have also tested positive, which is straining Parkview’s ability to deliver resident care.
Call for all staff to be tested
Revera says it is advocating for all-staff surveillance testing in all jurisdictions where it operates over the world.
“In areas of high community spread, this can be a valuable tool in helping us identify asymptomatic carriers early,” said Collins in a written statement.
Collins noted surveillance testing for all long-term care employees initiated by the Government of Ontario this summer identified numerous asymptomatic staff who, had they not been tested, would have unwittingly spread the virus.
Asymptomatic health care providers are not routinely tested for COVID-19 in Manitoba but they may be offered testing if they have been exposed to a case according to a Health Department spokesperson.
“Public health has continually revisited its advice on testing as the science develops, especially for vulnerable populations,” said the spokesperson. “[F]uture decisions on offering asymptomatic testing for staff who have not been exposed to a case will be made based on scientific data.”
Revera said that when the WRHA visited last weekend, the evening staffing fell “short of the target” because an unspecified number of staff were self-isolating due to the virus.
“Essential care did not suffer during those temporary shortages. All eyes and efforts remain focused on resident care and infection control,” said Collins.
She says staffing levels have stabilized at Parkview this week because some permanent staff who previously tested positive have been cleared to return to work.
In addition to an onsite pharmacist provided by the WRHA last week, Parkview Place has:
- added front line and management staff from other Revera locations, with WRHA approval.
- hired new employees.
- committed to bringing in agency staff for a number of different roles to support the home’s clinical, recreation and environmental services staff.
Parkview will be able to access staff recruited through last week’s provincial call for staff, which resulted in hiring 11 registered nurses, two health care aides,one respiratory therapist and one physiotherapist, according to a Manitoba Health Department spokesperson.
Manitoba Health did not specify how many, if any, of the new workers went to Parkview Place. Revera did not quantify the total number of staff it added.
Dedicated on-site physician touted by health minister does not exist
Revera says the WRHA is sending a dedicated full-time Nurse Practitioner to start working in-person at Parkview Place starting Monday.
This announcement comes a week after Manitoba’s Health Minister Cameron Friesen repeatedly said Parkview now has an on-site physician in multiple interviews with media.
“Everyone is working very, very hard at Parkview Place. We know that we now have a dedicated physician on-site,” said Friesen in a press conference on Oct.16. He repeated the same claim twice the day before when questioned about what the province was doing to curb its deadliest outbreak to date.
“If by ‘dedicated’ you mean full-time, then the answer is no,” wrote a spokesperson for Revera when asked if Parkview had a dedicated on-site physician
Revera did say its local medical director, Dr. Bharat Shah, “is completing on-site rounds,” but did not specify when he restarted in-person visits after pausing them due to the pandemic. She said the role of medical director is not a full-time job.
Minister Friesen, who has not held a press conference in more than a week, did not respond to multiple requests for comment about his statements.
Parkview Place located in hot zone
Collins says downtown Winnipeg has more active cases than anywhere else in Manitoba.
“The level of community spread is a direct predictor of the potential for, and severity of, an outbreak of COVID-19 in long-term care,” said Collins.
She said staff are grieving the deaths of residents and the pandemic has been incredibly difficult for the people who work in long-term care.
“Everyone at Parkview Place is focused on providing care to residents and stopping the spread of this devastating virus,” Collins said.
If you have a tip about personal care homes, click here to contact Jill Coubrough.
Canadian Press NewsAlert: Quebec reaches more than 100,000 total cases of COVID-19 – St. Albert Today
MONTREAL — Quebec reached more than 100,000 total cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, becoming the first province in Canada to hit the somber milestone since the pandemic began in March.
But despite remaining the country’s coronavirus epicentre, public health experts say a recent downward trend of infections is an encouraging sign.
“It’s a moment where we all sit up and say wow, 100,000 – that’s a lot of zeroes,” said Erin Strumpf, an associate professor at McGill University specialized in health economics.
“But again I think the more important thing to be paying attention to is the trend that we’ve been seeing recently in the province.”
The province reported 879 new cases on Sunday, bringing the total to 100,114 infections since the start of the pandemic.
The curve of new infections appears to have flattened over the past few weeks though, Strumpf said in an interview.
That downward trend, she said, coincides with stricter public health guidelines that aimed to stem the spread of the virus.
The government ordered the closure of bars and gyms, among other places, in hard-hit areas and advised residents to limit their contact with people who do not live in their households.
Montreal and Quebec City are among several Quebec regions that remain under the highest COVID-19 alert.
Strumpf said it is hard to pinpoint what exact measures are responsible for flattening the curve, however.
She added that she expects to see many public health restrictions remain in place moving forward. “It’s very difficult to know right now or to predict how long those closures may stay in place,” she said.
Still, the high COVID-19 infection numbers bring up painful memories for Quebecers who lost loved ones during the pandemic.
July Mak, whose 68-year-old father Paul contracted COVID-19 in a long-term care home in Montreal and died at the end of March, said the pain of her father’s death has not eased with time.
“To see these numbers this high… it blows my mind,” Mak said in an interview Sunday.
She said she wants the Quebec government to recognize that its COVID-19 data is more than just numbers — and thousands of people across the province have been directly affected.
“They mattered,” Mak said, about the thousands who have died.
On Sunday, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube said on Twitter that the number of new infections is “stable but remains high.”
Those cases can turn into hospitalizations and deaths, Dube warned, urging Quebecers to remain vigilant to reduce transmission.
Quebec health officials also reported 11 additional deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, bringing the total to 6,143.
Five of those additional deaths took place in the past 24 hours, five were reported between Oct. 18-23 and one occurred at an unspecified date.
Hospitalizations went up by two across the province, for a total of 551. Of those, 97 people were in intensive care — an increase of four compared to the previous day.
The province said it conducted 25,378 COVID-19 tests on Friday, the last date for which the testing data is available.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 25, 2020.
Jillian Kestler-D’Amours, The Canadian Press
Sobering milestones: Quebec passes 100,000 COVID-19 mark, Ontario counts highest daily count since pandemic start – National Post
Article content continued
The province’s recent COVID-19 numbers are more encouraging than they were last month, however, said Helene Carabin, a professor at Universite de Montreal.
The population has clearly understood that in order to limit transmission, we have to be more careful
Carabin said Quebec’s COVID-19 reproduction number, which measures the virus’ ability to spread, is slowly creeping lower — a positive sign that indicates people are following public health guidelines.
“The population has clearly understood that in order to limit transmission, we have to be more careful,” she said in an interview.
“We’re going in the right direction, unlike what was the case in September. Now what it tells us is that probably we will continue to have to keep being very careful during the winter months for it not to creep up.”
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s top public health officer, said in a statement Sunday that a “resurgence” of COVID-19 continues across the country.
Tam said there is a concern that Canada has not yet seen the full impact of the recent increase in COVID-19 cases, as hospitalizations and deaths generally lag behind case numbers.
Canada reported 215,879 total cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, including 9,940 deaths.
Manitoba announced 161 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday and the deaths of four people — two of which were related to an outbreak at a Winnipeg long-term care home where 17 people have now died.
Public health officials in Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case of COVID-19, while officials in New Brunswick reported two new infections and two additional deaths.
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